A couple weeks ago I was in a grocery store doing my weekly shopping. When finished collecting my various and sundry items, I approached an empty check-out stand and began placing my items on the belt. A smiling clerk greeted me with a warm “hello”, then proceeded to ask the ubiquitous question that all customer service representatives seemed tasked with, “Did you find what you were looking for?” I hesitated, then against my better judgment replied, “Actually, I couldn’t find any anchovy paste” with a questioning lilt to my voice; clearly I was asking for assistance. “Hmmmm” the clerk replied, “I’ve never seen any of that” and continued passing my items over the scanner as if I’d never asked. That was it; no offer of assistance, no calling of a Manager to see if the item was actually available in the store, no guessing as to a hidden location, or suggestion that perhaps it could be special ordered. Nothing. Instead, knowing I didn’t get everything I needed, my friendly customer service representative was content to finish the task at hand so she could move on to the next customer. This begs the question, why would a customer service representative, someone who’s sole purpose is to, you know, take care of customers needs be okay with sending me on my way when I was clearly missing a crucial component? You see, she didn’t offer assistance because she didn’t really care if I found what I needed. And believe it or not, I need anchovy paste. I love it’s tangy, pungent essence added to a cauldron of simmering red sauce; just a small squeeze in my homemade vinaigrette marries nicely with freshly squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and red wine vinegar. For me, anchovy paste brings depth and complexity to my cooking; it transforms an ordinary meal into something extraordinary.
As educators, utilizing the Understanding by Design (UbD) approach to Unit design is similar to excellent customer service; we’re beginning by asking what are our desired results? In customer service, the goal is content customers that return time and again with their wallets open. For educators, the goal is that our students will grapple with essential questions that help them to craft enduring understandings that can be drawn upon and applied again and again within and amongst content areas. Wiggins & McTighe (2005) contend that “only by having specified the desired results can we focus on the content, methods, and activities most likely to achieve those results” (p. 15). We must begin with the end in mind, as Stephen Covey so eloquently put it, then back-fill the rest. For educators new to UbD, it is helpful to realize that Wiggins & McTighe (2005) have identified six common entry points to the design process:
- Begin with content standards
- Begin by considering desired real-world applications
- Begin with a key resource or favorite activity
- Begin with an important skill
- Begin with a key assessment
- Begin with an existing unit
There are good reasons for adopting any of these entry points and the decision will come down to “…the content, the nature of the learners, available time, and your style as a designer” (p. 256). I decided to take the final tact on the list of possible entry points begin with an existing unit for a few reasons. First, both of my work samples from my Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) are UbD; China from my half-day Grade 10 teaching practicum and Reconstruction from my full-day Grade 8 practicum. Initially I began working with my China UbD but decided to switch to the Reconstruction UbD instead simply because I have not taught high school since my MAT program. I thought it would be useful to keep the bulk of my original unit intact and merely work on transferring the existing materials into the recommended UbD design template so I could analyze where my strengths and weaknesses lay sort of as a “then and now” designer. Also, I have the added benefit of begin nearly halfway finished with an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction. With additional training under my belt the opportunity to engage in self-reflective thought was just too tempting to pass up.
This is my completed UbD project:
Understanding by Design
|Unit Title:Reconstruction: Political and Social Renegotiation|
|Subject/Topic Areas:US History/Reconstruction|
|Key Words:Reconstruction, renegotiation, resistance|
|Designed by:Kim Rayl|
|Time Frame:11, 60-minute classes|
|School:Anytown Middle School|
|Brief Summary of Unit (including curricular context and unit goals):In this unit, students explore the concepts of resistance and renegotiation of the African American community following the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement, culminating in the election of Barack Obama as President. This unit follows extensive study of the Civil War with pre-assessment activities designed to move student thinking of how the South should be politically and economically restructured following defeat by the North.Students will take guided notes of PowerPoint presentations utilizing a graphic organizer and independent notes from their US History text readings, analyze a political cartoon for purpose and effectiveness and create their own political cartoon, analyze the effect of the phases of Reconstruction through creation of a “citizenship spectrum”, take a literacy test from Jim Crow era, view videos of the Civil Rights movement and the Ku Klux Klan, read biographies of African Americans that resisted Jim Crow laws. Students will take a summative Unit test (IEP test provided) composed of multiple choice and fill-in-blank items.In the culminating performance assessment task, students will create a “resistance collage” using words and pictures to visually represent how African Americans actively resisted Jim Crow Laws through the Civil Rights Movement and beyond.|
Stage 1- Identify Desired Results
|Established Goals:Students will understand that… Common Curricular Goal: Civics and GovernmentUnderstand and apply knowledge about government and political systems, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Standards: Understand how government is influenced and changed by support and dissent of individuals, groups, and international organizations.SS.08.CG.06 Identify and give examples of how groups and organizations can influence the actions of government.Common Curricular Goal: GeographyUnderstand and use geographic skills and concepts to interpret contemporary and historical events.Standards: Understand economic, cultural, and environmental factors that influence changes in population, and evaluate the consequences of the resulting increases or decreases in population.SS.08.GE.06.01 Identify and give examples of economic, cultural, and environmental factors that influence population.Common Curricular Goal: HistoryRelate significant events and eras in United States and world history to past and present issues and developments.Historical Skills Standards: Analyze cause and effect relationships, including multiple causalities.SS.08.HS.02 Distinguish between cause and effect relationships and events that happen or occur concurrently or sequentially.
U.S. History Standards: Understand the importance and lasting influence of individuals, issues, events, people, and developments in U.S. history.
SS.08.HS.06 Understand how individuals, issues, and events changed or significantly influenced the course of U.S History post-American Revolution through 1900.
SS.08.HS.10 Understand how Reconstruction affected the country.
SS.08.06.11 Identify and understand constitutional changes that resulted from the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Common Curricular Goal: English Language Arts
Read to Perform a Task
Standards: Find, understand and use specific information in a variety of texts across
subject areas to perform a task.
CIM: EL.CM.RE. Read textbooks; biographical sketches; letters; diaries; directions;
procedures; magazines; essays; primary source historical documents; editorials;
news stories; periodicals; bus routes; catalogs; technical directions; consumer,
workplace, and public documents.
Common Curricular Goal: Teamwork
Standard: Demonstrate effective teamwork in school, community, and/or workplace.
CS.TW.02 Demonstrate skills that improve team effectiveness (e.g., negotiation,
compromise, consensus building, conflict management, shared decision-making
Common Curricular Goal: Communication
Standard: Demonstrate effective communication skills to give and receive information in
school, community, and/or workplace.
CIM: CS.CM.01 Locate, process, and convey information using traditional and
CS.CM.03 Give and receive feedback in a positive manner.
|What essential questions will be considered?
|What understandings are desired?
|What key knowledge and skills will students acquire as a result of this unit?Students will know…
Students will be able to…
Stage 2- Determine Acceptable Evidence
|What evidence will show that students understand?Performance Tasks:Resistance Collage- Students create a mixed-media collage using text and pictures to graphically represent examples of African American resistance to Jim Crow lawsPolitical cartoon- Students will create a novel political cartoon as their Unit graphic organizer cover page demonstrating their understanding of caricature, purpose and effectiveness|
|What other evidence needs to be collected in light of Stage 1 Desired Results?Other Evidence:
|Student Self-Assessment and Reflection:
Assessment Task Blueprint
|What understandings or goals will be assessed through this task?Students will understand that although African Americans still struggle to successfully negotiate their political and social lives in a dominant white society, they nevertheless have a long history of active resistance to political and social inequality. What criteria are implied in the standards and understandings regardless of the task specifics? What qualities must student work demonstrate to signify that standards were met?
|Through what authentic performance task will students demonstrate understanding? Task Overview:Students will create a mixed-media symbolic collage that visually represents how African Americans actively resisted Jim Crow Laws. Students will locate pictures and written text symbolic of African American resistant to inequality.Goal: Your goal is to create a poster that visually represents how African Americans have actively resisted white domination from Reconstruction through the Civil Rights Movement.Role: Your role is poster creator.Audience: Your audience is your teacher.Situation: You will have half a period in-class to work on your symbolic collage. The remainder will be finished outside of class.Product: You will create a symbolic collage that represents how African Americans have actively resisted white domination. Your poster must have a minimum of five different ideas representative of resistance. You must have pictures, sentences, words and your own drawings. Your poster must be in color, but may include black and white as well.Success: creating a collage that contains five different examples of African American resistance to Jim Crow laws will attain Success.|
|What student products and performances will provide evidence of desired understandings?Students will… be able to design a symbolic representation of African American resistance using pictures, words and phrases.Students will… be able to utilize five different examples of resistance to Jim Crow laws.Students will… recognize that African Americans have a long history of active resistance to political and social inequality.|
|By what criteria will student products and performances be evaluated?Resistance RubricStage 3- Plan Learning Experiences|
|1. Hook with a bell warmer “You are a parent whose child has run away. How do you react? Do you punish your child for rebelling, or do you welcome your child back without punishment?” to get students thinking about how to reconstruct the South following the Civil War. Follow with small group discussion “What should be done with southerners who rebelled? What should southern states be required to do to be re-admitted into the Union? What should be done for the newly freed blacks?” H2. T-Chart: What I Know, What I want to Know about the South following the Civil War W, E, T, O3. Presentation/discussion: slide 4.2 A The Destruction of the South H, E, R, O “What do you see here? What has happened to this city? What will it take to rebuild the city? Who should pay the cost?”4. Note: key vocabulary terms are introduced as needed by the various learning activities and performance tasks. Students read and discuss relevant selections from the US History textbook to support the learning activities and tasks. W, E5. Note: introduction of graphic organizer- students synthesize their understanding of Unit concepts and knowledge by designing symbolic representations (hand drawn pictures) in their Unit graphic organizer W, E, O6. Group discussion activity: How do we treat the South? Punish or renegotiate? H7. Essential question introduction and introduction of performance task GRASPS: Resistance Collage W, E, O8. Hook students with discussion of renegotiating a relationship with friend or parent H9. Discussion seminar: Transparency 4.2B Freedmen’s Bureau School H, E, O“What is happening in this picture? Who are the students? The teacher? Is this an integrated or segregated school? How did students receive an education previously?”10. Note: student will understand phases of Reconstruction through guided and independent note-taking while viewing the following PowerPoint presentations: E, H, Oa. Punish or Pardon?b. Presidential Reconstruction & Black Codes
c. Congressional Reconstruction & Sharecropping
d. Southern Reconstruction, Scalawags & Carpet Baggers
e. End of Reconstruction
f. Ku Klux Klan
g. Reconstruction Reversed & Jim Crow
h. We Shall Overcome
11. Direct instruction: PowerPoint: Presidential Reconstruction, Freedmen’s Bureau, Black Codes E, H, O
12. Essential Question writing prompt/discussion W, E, E-2, O
“Was Presidential Reconstruction working towards a “just and lasting peace?” Under Presidential Reconstruction, did African American’s successfully renegotiate their political and social relationship with white society?”
13. Hook students with political cartoon of President Johnson: What is happening in this cartoon? Who is the man? What is he doing? What is the artist’s intended message? H, E, E-2, O
14. Direct Instruction PowerPoint Congressional Reconstruction: H, E, O
15. Rebus story of sharecropper’s daily life (students write a story about a day in the life of…replacing some words/key vocabulary with graphic representations (drawn pictures) R, E, E-2, T,
16. Hook students with writing prompt, “How did sharecropping benefit white planters? Did sharecropping help former slaves become independent? Why or why not?” H, R, E-2,
17. Discussion Seminar: Transparency 4.2D African American Congressman Menard addressing Congress: Where is this taking place? Who is the man addressing the assembly? What is significant about his presence? H, E, E-2, R
18. Direct Instruction: PowerPoint Southern Reconstruction, Scalawags & Carpet Baggers W, E, O
19. Review and discuss: What was a scalawag? A carpetbagger? Why did poor whites support the Republican Party? Why did Ulysses S. Grant win the Election of 1868? What was the 15th Amendment? R, E, E-2 O
20. Hook students with a political cartoon: Transparency 4.2E “Patience of a Monument” H, E, R, O
What do you see in this picture?
Who does the figure on the monument represent?
What does the monument itself represent?
What are the figures in the background?
What has happened to the woman and child in the foreground?
21. Teacher directed activity: Soapstone: Women and the Vote E, O
Explain the SOAPStone process: http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/public/preap/teachers_corner/45200.html
Explain that women were divided regarding supporting 15th amendment
Background information on Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Teacher and students will analyze “Women and the Vote” using SOAPStone
22. Direct Instruction PowerPoint End of Reconstruction W, E, E-2, O
23. Students synthesize understanding of purpose of political cartoons and the Jim Crow era to create a novel political cartoon- Unit Title Page expectation explanation: create an original political cartoon E, R, T
24. Direct Instruction: PowerPoint Ku Klux Klan W, E, O
25. Watch video The Klan followed by debrief/class discussion H, E, R
26. Hook students by having them take a literacy test from the Jim Crow era H
27. Direct Instruction PowerPoint- Reconstruction Reversed W, E, O
28. Hook students by having them place events on a spectrum childhood———-adulthood then discuss results H, E
29. Evaluate the different phases of Reconstruction’s effect on African American citizenship through the creation of a “citizenship spectrum” partner activity: place events from different phases of Reconstruction on spectrum labeled limited citizenship ————– full citizenship. Pairs will write a sentence explanation of their choice then report back to class E, R, O
30. Direct Instruction PowerPoint We Shall Overcome W, E, O
31. Show video: A Time for Justice: America’s Civil Rights Movement then debrief through class discussion H, E, R
32. Explanation of GRASPS performance task Resistance Collage
Students create a collage symbolic of African American resistance to Jim Crow laws using mixed media text and pictures W, T, O
33. Hook students with the following writing prompt “Pretend you are an 18-year-old African American living in the South during the 1950’s. It is an election year and you want to vote. What are the dangers and prejudices you face? How can you overcome these obstacles?” Students share their writing with class. H
34. Understanding examples of daily resistance to Jim Crow laws through written summary: students will read biographical notes about a famous African American that resisted Jim Crow laws answering: who, what, when, how, and their impact on final panel of unit graphic organizer. Class discussion: what are some ways that your African American character worked against Jim Crow laws? How can we as individuals work against injustice? W, E, R, O
35. Students use their completed Unit graphic organizer to review for a written Unit test, IEP test provided for applicable students E, R, O
36. Students share their Resistance collage with class E, R, T
37. Final class discussion of essential questions E, R, O
38. Students complete end-of-unit reflection E, R, T
39. Collect student spirals (Unit Graphic Organizer) for final assessment O
My original UbD unit plan did not have a calendar (I submitted individual lesson plans) so I created one for the purposes of clarity and following the recommended steps of the design process.
Stage 3- Plan Learning Experiences
Punish or Pardon?
Presidential Reconstruction & Black Codes
Congressional Reconstruction & Sharecropping
Southern Reconstruction Scalawags & Carpet Baggers
End of Reconstruction
|1. Hook students with discussion of rebellious child run away.2. T-chart: Know, Want to Know3. Destruction of South presentation/discussion4. Vocab check: renegotiation, reconstruction5. Read aloud Reconstruction Means Rebuilding: A History of Us pp. 12-146. Essential Question introduction
7. Vocab Check #2: Reconstruction, Freedmen
Civil Rights, Renegotiation
Scalawags, Social, Carpet Baggers, Jim Crow Laws, Political
Materials: PowerPoint punish or pardon Student spirals, US History Book
|1. Hook students with discussion of renegotiating a relationship with another2. Seminar: Freedmen’s Bureau School (segregation of education)3. Direct instruction: PowerPoint: Presidential Reconstruction, Freedmen’s Bureau, Black Codes4. Essential Question writing prompt/discussion5. Graphic Organizer- pp. 312-13 in History Alive Finish for homeworkMaterials: PowerPoint Presidential Reconstruction? Student spirals, US History Book||1. Hook students with political cartoon of President Johnson2. Vocab check (veto, impeach, radical3. Direct Instruction PowerPoint Congressional Reconstruction:
4. Graphic Organizer- pp. 314-315 in History Alive Finish for homework
Homework: Rebus Stories of sharecropper daily life
Materials: PowerPoint congressional, student spirals, US History Book
|1. Hook students with review about sharecroppers2. Seminar: 3. Direct Instruction PowerPoint: Southern Reconstruction
4. Graphic Organizer- pp. 316-331 in History Alive Finish for homework
5. Closure- review vocab, concepts
Materials: PowerPoint southern, Student spirals, US History Book
|1. Hook students with writing/seminar of political cartoon “Patience of a Monument”2. SOAPStone- Women and the Vote3. Direct Instruction PowerPoint End of Reconstruction
4. Unit Title Page expectation explanation: author an original political cartoon
Homework: Work on Unit political cartoon
Materials: PowerPoint end of, Student spirals, US History Book
Ku Klux Klan
Reconstruction Reversed & Jim Crow
We Shall Overcome
|1. Students share their political cartoons2. Direct Instruction: PowerPoint Ku Klux Klan3. Video and class discussion- The Klan4. Graphic Organizer- pp. 318-319 in History Alive- Finish for homeworkHomework: The Compromise of 1877 worksheet, finish graphic organizerMaterials: PowerPoint KKK Student spirals, US History Book||1. Hook students by taking a literacy test2. Direct Instruction PowerPoint- Reconstruction Reversed
3. Read- Jim Crow-What a Fool from A History of Us pp. 160-164.
4. Graphic Organizer- pp. 320-321 in History Alive
Materials: PowerPoint reversed, Student spirals, US History Book
|1. Hook students by having them place examples of life events on spectrum childhood vs. adulthood2. Political Spectrum partner activity: place each phase of Reconstruction on spectrum labeled limited citizenship/full citizenship3. Spectrum activity debrief; partners explain their choices and whyMaterials: Example of spectrum, Student spirals, US History book||1. Direct Instruction PowerPoint We Shall Overcome2. Video: A Time for Justice: America’s Civil Rights Movement3. Explanation of GRASPS performance task Resistance CollageStudents create a collage symbolic of African American resistance to Jim Crow lawsHomework: work on Resistance CollageMaterials: PowerPoint we shall overcome, Student spiral, US History book||1. Hook students by taking on perspective of 18-year-old voter (in the South) during 1950’s to write about dangers and prejudices they face.2. Read biographies of African Americans that resisted Jim Crow laws.3. Graphic Organizer- Summarize who, what, when, how and impact of resistance examples.4. Class discussion-
Homework: Finish Resistance Collage, due next class.
Materials: Biographies of African Americans, Student spiral, US History book
|1. Students share their resistance collages2. Class discussion of essential questions:
3. Students review their graphic organizer to prepare for unit summative test
4. Students take Unit test
5. Students complete end of unit reflection
6. Collect Student Spirals for assessment
Materials: Unit Test, IEP Unit Test
UbD Self Reflection
Consistent, constructive reflective thought is one of the hallmarks of good teaching. As I review the good, the bad and the ugly of my original UbD I can identify weaknesses in areas in my design that could use some attention.
GRASPS Performance Task
According to Wiggins and McTighe (2005) “Performance tasks typically present students with a problem: a real-world goal, set within a realistic context of challenges and possibilities. Students develop a tangible product or performance for an identified audience….the evaluative criteria and performance standards are appropriate to the task- and known by the student in advance” (p. 157). Suffice to say, I am not pleased with the final performance task I created for my original UbD unit. I am also disappointed with the resistance rubric that I used to assess students Resistance Collage; the focus is primarily on student use of color, pictures, five examples of resistance and use of text. Absent in a deeper focus on student understanding of unit essential questions. Another mistake is lack of choice; students are instructed to make a poster collage with no opportunity for differentiation, this removes the “real-world goal” from the project.
Perhaps a better performance task would be the following:
TASK OVERVIEW– You have landed your dream job as a historical storyteller. Your first assignment is to work with the African American virtual living history museum to create an online webpage exhibit for middle school aged students that explores the African American experience from Reconstruction through the Civil Right Movement until today. Your online webpage exhibit must grapple with and take a stance on two of the three following issues:
- Did the reconstruction of the South achieve Abraham Lincoln’s ideal of a “just and lasting peace” based upon inclusion and equality for all?
- Did Reconstruction successfully renegotiate African American’s political and social relationship with white society?
- Are African Americans passive victims of political and social inequality today?
GOAL– Your goal is to create an online webpage exhibition that visually and textually demonstrates your understanding of two of the three issues listed above.
ROLE– Your role is historical storyteller/webpage builder for an African American virtual living history museum
AUDIENCE– online visiting middle school aged students
SITUATION– you will have four class periods in the computer lab to work on your task and you may use your graphic organizer, history text and other online resources to create your product.
PRODUCT– Your online webpage exhibit must clearly answer two of our three essential questions. Each essential question will be supported with three separate pieces of evidence; each piece of evidence must include a paragraph explanation of why it is a relevant and appropriate evidence to support your claim. You must create an engaging title for your exhibit that will make students want to explore your exhibition.
SUCCESS– Your online webpage exhibit will be age-appropriate (easily understood by your classmates) with a minimum of three pieces of “evidence” (text, pictures, Youtube video, PowerPoint, lecture notes summarized in your own words) to support each of your essential questions. Your product will follow standard design criteria (see rubric) and will include an engaging title that draws viewers to your exhibit.
I did not create a new rubric for this assignment, but I would be sure to do a couple things to help ensure student success. First, I would have a sample of “student work” demonstrating meets, exceeds and does not meet standard. I would have to create this product the first time I taught the unit but it would be time well spent to help guide students towards success. Since this unit is the last of the year, I would have made sure that my students were already adept at webpage building so that familiarity with and use of online technology would not be what was assessed. Rather, students ability to synthesize and evaluate Unit information would be at the forefront of the assessment performance task. I would also provide two rubrics; one would be a generic design rubric that students would already be familiar with from early projects in the year. The second rubric would be task-specific addressing use of relevant and appropriate evidence to support student project title and artifacts, and would also focus on student ability to articulate their enduring understanding through narrative.
While the performance task is the biggest issue with my original UbD, there are other areas for improvement. For example, although I am happy that I created a separate version of the test based on Individualized Education Plan for a couple students in my class, I believe that the addition of short response questions related to the essential questions would provide students an opportunity to express their understandings in a more comprehensive manner. I would also provide more opportunities for cooperative learning activities including peer assessment of political cartoons and the final performance task. I would have students self-assess their work as well, again, focusing on their political cartoon, Rebus story, and final performance task. It is also crucial for student and teacher development to offer opportunities for feedback on Unit design. I would provide students a voice in guiding the direction of this Unit for future students by lending their thoughts to an end-of-Unit refection. The benefits are two-fold. First, through self-reflection students are able to reflect on their learning one final time, cementing the connections made and knowledge gained during the unit. Secondly, I would be provided a coveted glimpse into the metacognitive thinking of my students aiding in my own professional development and design abilities.
For educators, metacognition and self reflection are key ingredients to a rich and satisfying learning experience for our students. If teachers pay close attention to what our desired results are, which is equipping our students with enduring understandings that get to the heart of our content area and are applicable to novel situations, then we have added the same essential ingredient to our units that my anchovy paste achieves; depth and complexity. The goal of every educator should be to provide excellent customer service to our students, we need them to leave our classrooms feeling like they found what they were looking for and ready to come back for more.