Understanding by Design (UbD)-Backward design

Understanding by Design (UbD) backwards design according to Wiggins and McTighe (2005) “… involves thinking a great deal, first, about the specific learnings sought, and the evidence of such learnings, before thinking about what we, as the teacher, will do or provide in teaching and learning activities.” (14)

This past week I was asked to look at the UbD Design, backward design.  At first I felt comfortable using the model since I had been exposed to it previously in my school district.  In my district, this design is used to help teachers create their lesson plans for the upcoming units, which range  from a week to months at a time.  When I started to write my UbD design I had the mentality , that I was writing it for one unit, but I soon realized that was not what was being asked.  I later realized I had to design a UbD for larger units.  I had to combine two units together to make sure that my UbD design fit over  a long period of time.  So I took my Operation units (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and combined them together.  Once put together it would take about 3 months to teach.  With that in mind developing my UbD design was more difficult than i originally thought.    The following  UbD design is one that I developed for a 4th grade math unit on the four basic math operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division).

Stage 1- Desired Results

Establish Goals:

Students will…

  • Analyze different digital media to create tutorial videos.
  • Add and subtract whole numbers and decimals to the hundredths place.
  • Determine products of a number using properties of operations and place value understanding.
  • Represent the product of 2 two-digit numbers.
  • Multiply up to four-digit number by a one-digit number.
  • Represent the quotient of up to four-digit whole number divided by a one-digit whole number.
  • Interpret remainders.
  • Utilize different strategies to solve real world math problems.
  • Analyze, evaluate and solve one to two step math word problems.
  • Be exposed to different strategies they can use to solve math word problems.
Students will understand that…

  • Using different strategies will help them solve math word problems.
  • Using digital media will help them grow as a learner.
  • Solving math word problems may involve more than one operation.
Essential Questions:

  • How do we analyze word problems to choose the correct math operation(s)?
  • How can we use the created videos to help further student’s learning?
  • How can using different strategies can help solve math word problems?
  • How do all four basic mathematical operations connect?
Students will know…

  • How to solve multi step math word problems using multiple operations.
  • How to analyze a word problem and choose the correct math operation(s) to solve.
Students will be able to…

  • Create tutorial videos.
  • To make connections between the four different math operations.
  • To create a plan for their own learning.

Stage 2- Assessment Evidence

Performance Tasks:

  • Flipped Classroom instructional videos
  • Student-created tutorials
  • STAAR like worksheets
Other Evidence:

  • Quizizzes
  • Small group notebook
  • Providing peer feedback
  • SeeSaw Journal
  • Peer work
  • Exit tickets

Stage 3- Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

1.     Teacher will have students activate prior knowledge of the four basic math operations. W

2.     Students will have a have a small quiz on their prior knowledge. (From this data the teacher will be able to make small groups, prepare for misconceptions for new knowledge.) W, T

3.     Students will be given the url for the instructional videos. (Students will be introduced to each operation one at a time.) W

4.     When student come in the classroom after watching the instructional videos, they will be completing a group project. (Multiday) H

5.     Students will continuously work on math word problems. E

6.     Students will be asked to make short videos using different software. W,H

7.     Students will be completing independent work, peer work and small group instruction on the various math operations. E

8.     Students will design a plan to create their tutorial videos. E, O

9.     Students will collect data based on their completed work in order to tailor their learning. (What they are not mastering? What can they do to master the skill?) E, T, O

10.  Teacher will work with students in small group to fix any misconceptions they may have. R, T

11.  Students will get with a partner to provide feedback on their tutorial videos. R, E

12.  Students will be uploading their videos to SeeSaw. O

W = Help the students know Where the unit is going and What is expected? Help the teacher know Where the students are coming from (prior knowledge, interests)?
H = Hook all students and Hold their interest?
E = Equip students, help them Experience the key ideas and Explore the issues?
R = Provide opportunities to Rethink and Revise their understandings and work?
E = Allow students to Evaluate their work and its implications?
T = Be Tailored (personalized) to the different needs, interests, and abilities of learners?
O = Be Organized to maximize initial and sustained engagement as well as effective learning?

UbD and 3 column table (BHAG)

I found both of these lesson plan models very difficult.  Of the two, the UbD was easier to work with.  Since I had been exposed to this design in the past,  I felt more comfortable using this method..  I believe that UbD design would be more beneficial for lesson plans for smaller period units.  The 3 column table is more suited for long term goals, such as semester term goals.  

I can see myself using both templates for my innovation plan even though the 3 column table is by far more challenging for me.  The way I would use the 3 column table would be to plan the year long goal for my students. This is what I would  show my administrators at the beginning of the year.  The UbD design would be more efficient for my unit lesson plans.  They would be about the skills that I need to teach, what my instruction is going to be, and what activities my students will partake on.




         Fink, L. D. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning. Retrieved fromhttps://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf.


          Wiggins, G., & Mctighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design, expanded 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

One thought on “Understanding by Design (UbD)-Backward design

  1. Pingback: Learning Environment, Design and Purpose | EduTech With Mrs. Perez

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