Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned thus far in the Curriculum and Instruction program is the value of taking time to engage in metacognition and reflection on past practices to improve on and deepen my understanding of my present knowledge. I’ve spent the past few days picking at (and apart) my UbD_Reconstruction_blog1 (UbD) units that I created during my Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program through Southern Oregon University (SOU). My first thought was how thankful I am that my 2007 social studies Special Methods instructor was current enough in his practice to have us burgeoning teachers create our Winter and Spring work samples using UbD. This freed me from the task of creating from scratch an entirely new unit. Instead, I have been able to focus on matching my original work to the design template provided by Wiggins and McTighe (2005) and filling in the “missing blanks”. I was pleasantly surprised at how thorough my original Ubd is, including use of GRASP Task Design Prompts as outlined by Wiggins and McTighe (2005), although in retrospect, I am quite positive that my original task does not “present students with a problem: a real world goal, set within a realistic context of challenges and possibilities” (p. 157). Hindsight can be sobering.
Really, that’s the rub and the nagging question in the back of my mind; while I am still working on finishing this project, I am trying to decide if I should let my UbD stand on it’s own with its original content, or if I should make modifications? Clearly, no design can truly every be finished; it is the foolhardy educator who feels her units are impervious to improvement. I now know that my performance task is weak at best… how could my Special Methods teacher not point this out five years ago? Wiggins & McTighe (2005) may be easier on me than I am, “…the key to excellent design is to try something, see how it works, and make adjustments” and that “In any field, the value of regular feedback is recognized as a key to continuous improvement” (p. 271). It’s risky to put something out there that isn’t “perfect” but sometimes that’s where our best learning takes place. I feel that there is a greater value to be had in the reflective process and asking for peer review, rather than neurotically reworking my original UbD to the level that I could currently create. In the end, I would rather embark on an honest deconstruction of where I was and where I currently am as an educator as a window into how I have evolved as a curriculum developer. This being said, I did choose my Spring work sample over my Winter UbD because I felt it was more complete; I’m not complete mad. This will take more time and thought (and a finished product) but going through the process of breaking-down my original vision into finer grained detail is an involved, yet enlightening process.
Wiggins, Grant and McTighe, Jay. (2005. Understanding by Design 2nd Edition. Virginia: ASCD.