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Understanding by Design (ASCD)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,277 Ratings  ·  90 Reviews
The highly anticipated second edition of "Understanding by Design" poses the core, essential questions of understanding and design, and provides readers with practical solutions for the teacher-designer. The book opens by analyzing the logic of backward design as an alternative to coverage and activity-oriented plans. Though backward from habit, this approach brings more f ...more
Paperback, Second Edition, 384 pages
Published July 1st 2005 by Pearson (first published October 1st 1998)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,347)
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Oct 01, 2012 Philip rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As a rule, if I review a book, I read every word of the book. There have been a few exceptions (this brings the total up to 4, I believe...)

There was a lot of good content in this one. The concept is pretty solid, and I think most teachers are using Backward Design by now. I remember learning about it in my undergrad methods courses, but it wasn't nearly as in depth as it was here.

Basically, as the title implies - you start with what you want kids to know, and develop the curriculum from there.
Michael Burnam-fink
This book should be required reading for educators at all levels. Like all great ideas, Understanding by Design presents a process that seems like common sense, is surprisingly difficult to implement properly, but could have astounding results. The premise behind Understanding by Design is that learning doesn't happen by accident, or merely by hard work on the part of students and teachers, but from the deliberate mastery of skills in pursuit of hard questions. Understanding by Design doesn't re ...more
Garrett Zecker
Understanding by Design is a technical publication for building curriculum using the backward design process. This book helps instructors support their work by implementing Essential Questions so that a course can be built around the end result and focused on understanding rather than milestones and tasks. It is a pretty basic lesson planning guide – almost a 101 for teachers of anything. It lacks a few fundamental ideas, such as using taxonomy as a basis for questioning, but I think that the bo ...more
DWRL Library
Wiggins offers ideas for designing curriculum to engage students in exploring and deepening their understanding of important ideas, and creating assessments that reveal the extent of their understanding. This is not a step-by-step guide on how to design a course, but rather a conceptual framework and design process. It offers a way of thinking about your course, but does not offer individual lesson plans.

I read the book at the same time I was putting together my 309K proposal, and found it very
Jan 03, 2015 Mac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is tough to get through but a must read for anybody who wants to be a leader of teachers. The concepts involved in backward design can be used for everything from unit planning to curriculum writing to professional development. Unfortunately not enough administrators have read this book. I absolutely loved it.
Aug 24, 2014 Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book covers an eminently critical topic in contemporary education practice -- developing curriculum that covers all the essential concepts in a course in an engaging and measurably effective manner. Wiggins and McTighe expertly present a lot of great material, both theoretical and practical to help teachers, administrators, schools, and districts to develop their own Understanding by Design units. No serious educator should be able to walk away from this book with nothing new to add to thei ...more
Erica Paythress
Jul 06, 2015 Erica Paythress rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enduring understandings have lasting value beyond the classroom. It is what students should understand, not just know or do after studying a subject. This course learning will stay the students for a lifetime to recall when need.

Learning outcomes are how we determine what was learned. It is assessing the outcomes that educators determine if students achieved their goals and met learning objectives. It let the teacher gage the level the students have learned and aids in accountability among teac
May 30, 2016 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my 4th time through this book, discussing it with different groupings of colleagues at different schools. I learn new things every time, and the discussions sparked are excellent: about how to plan for and then execute significant learning. Understanding. By design. (1) Target big goals (what students need to know, understand, be able to do: standards, essential questions, enduring understandings), decide how students will demonstrate mastery of the target (assessments: valid, authentic ...more
Mark Feltskog
When I was a forklift operator, I topped out in terms of skill pretty quickly. And one need only receive one or two truckloads of any kind of merchandise to master the warehouse worker's skills. One of the great things about being a teacher, for me, is that it is a career that offers virtually endless opportunities to improve as a practitioner; it is, therefore, never boring. Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe's Understanding by Design is in all respects a guide to keep one's teaching career stimu ...more
Henry Wijaya
Mar 19, 2013 Henry Wijaya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers
Recommended to Henry by: Professor Lesley Bartlett
It is a great book for teachers to help them evaluate what they have been doing in their teaching works. Reading this book makes me revisit all works that I have done related to the actual teaching in the classroom, my preparation before that, and my follow up after that. Furthermore, it also makes me rethink about curriculum design and material development.
It is scary to think how easy it is for a teacher to design a curriculum, develop the materials, teach the students, and evaluate the outcom
May 27, 2008 Mary rated it really liked it
This thing is such an institution at Teachers College we use UbD as a verb. As in, "Did you UbD this novel yet?"


But I certainly can't think of a better way to plan than the approach so laboriously extolled in this tome. It's a smart, methodical way to make truly rigorous curricula that demand authentic learning, not coverage or cute performance tasks. And I'd say it's worth it to give the opening chapters a thorough read. Most teachers only get a forced march through the UbD Workbook tem
Alyssa Shepherd
Sep 13, 2014 Alyssa Shepherd rated it it was amazing
Companion to the workbook. This is the nuts and bolts of the planning. However, you need to see if you can get the school headed in this direction. It doesn't help the school if you are the only one backwards designing. It will help your classroom, but think Macro, and how this will help all of the children in your sphere of influence.
Apr 03, 2012 Kimiamqa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was assigned for a graduate Information Literacy course I took for my Master's in Library Science program. I thought it was a smart choice for an info lit book since it is not a "library science" course book. I have fifteen years teaching experience and I learned new and fresh ideas from this book for developing lessons using the authors' backward design process. I had been using a version of backward design for many years now, especially for teaching conversational English and recentl ...more
May 03, 2016 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book for educators. There are some excellent resources within the book to help teacher plan lessons around what the students should be learning instead of tying what should be learned into the lessons. It is dry, since it is like a textbook, but there is a lot of valuable information.
محمد النجيمي
It's good to read such a book that cares so much about understanding and the importance of backword design. There are lots of examples that explain different stages of planning and facets of understanding and components of performance task. All that is helpful in clarifying the concept and application.
Jan Michael
Aug 03, 2014 Jan Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trains one how to design powerful unit lessons using the latest trends in pedagogy. Combining constructivist, project-based, problem-based, metacognitive strategies, the book ensures that any educator creates a learner-centred classroom. Drift is, one's understanding is designed.
May 08, 2014 Komal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2014, education
Even if you ultimately decide that "backwards design" is not for you, this book is still worth reading. Lucid and well explained. I particularly appreciated the distinction made between knowledge and understanding.
Zach Parsons
May 03, 2016 Zach Parsons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that all teachers should read that goes through the ins and out of backwards design. It provides many strategies to assure purposeful teaching in the classroom.
Jul 01, 2009 Jmswtsn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Somewhat thick verbiage makes it a little hard to read, but the main point of the book is about a more effective way to teach current curriculum to students and the basic premise should be fairly obvious to anyone who teaches regularly - you think about the learning outcome and devise essential questions and discussion points to get students to your level of understanding of a topic.

Helpful in working through a unit of instruction, but not something aimed at the larger questions of why do we eve
Sep 09, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting academic read. Backwards design is something that many people I think have been doing but not to the detail the Wiggins describes it in. I used the design for my new Catcher unit and I like were it has taken me. I feel more confident in why I am teaching what I am teaching, and that makes it easier to explain to my students. The only problem is how time consuming it can be to revamp a unit, especially during the school year. Naturally teachers do not get nearly enough time to accompl ...more
Jul 24, 2016 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
A lot to think about but good thinking for my classroom especially in regards to IPA's now becoming more important.
Apr 15, 2016 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Interesting concepts and a useful planning framework, but I found large sections of this book quite tedious to read.
This book basically covers the lesson planning idea of 'beginning with the end in mind'. This is not a new concept and most schoolS require you to plan this way. I am actually kind of saddened that my masters program would have us read this and have us base an entire course off of it.
Chad Lamb
Feb 21, 2016 Chad Lamb rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
Great approach to designing units and assessments and great non-jargon-filled writing by the authors.
Jul 17, 2014 Shayneswift rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of a digital book club for teachers but purchased the PD workbook and essential questions book as well. I think this is extremely helpful in supporting laser-focused teaching with respect to student outcomes.
Vicky Kennard
May 19, 2014 Vicky Kennard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy to read and has done good stuff that all teachers should know and use
May 29, 2014 Jacinda rated it liked it
Shelves: own, 2014-books
A useful book for backward design, but incredibly redundant.
Stan Golanka
Dec 30, 2014 Stan Golanka rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The standard for curriculum design.
Jul 26, 2014 Dave rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: curriculum
There is no better book for curriculum design and deployment. I came to the party late, considering my old unit designs to be extraordinary. Oh how wrong was I. The key however comes in that my old aligned plans and units were the best teachers can be expected to do without the added piece of time. To create units and instruction from this model you have to have lots of it. I'm blessed to have it now in my new position, but until PLCs can address the time issue, we won't see more than pockets of ...more
Jay Salikin
Feb 20, 2011 Jay Salikin is currently reading it
Three stages of backward design:

1. Identify desired results (To what extent does the design focus on the big ideas of targeted content?)
2. Determine acceptable evidence (To what extent do the assessments provide fair, valid, reliable, and sufficient measures of the desired results?)
3. Plan learning experiences and instruction (To what extent is the learning plan effective and engaging)

To what extent is the entire unit coherent, with the elements of all three stages aligned?
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