Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement

Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement

Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement

Schooling by Design: Mission, Action, and Achievement


Now you can apply Understanding by Design?ASCD's renowned framework for results-based curriculum and assessment'to your entire systemwide school improvement. UbD authors Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe describe how to start with your school's mission and goals and develop a powerful school improvement plan focused on desired results. Learn how to use UbD's backward-design process to determine the evidence for your plan's success and to plan improvement steps in instruction and leadership roles. Wiggins and McTighe explain:
• Why to refocus your school on the goals of understanding and transfer rather than low-level knowledge and discrete skills
• How to organize curriculum and assessment for accomplishment-based learning
• How to determine the teachers? role in the instructional process based on desired learning accomplishments
• Which job functions are most critical for the academic leader
• What's holding schools back from entering a new era of effectiveness


Form follows function—that has been misunderstood. Form and function should
be one, joined in a spiritual union.

—Frank Lloyd Wright

In Chapter 1 we noted that curriculum is properly derived from mission. A curriculum is literally “the course to be run” for best reaching a desired result. In other words, any curriculum is implied by and derived from a prior decision about the destination. When we are clear on what should result, we design the best “course” for getting there. The curriculum is a means for achieving our goals and is therefore derived backward from what the goals imply. The NEASC Accreditation Standards highlight this very point in Standard 2:

The curriculum, which includes coursework, co-curricular activities, and other
school-approved educational experiences, is the school's formal plan to fulfill its
mission statement and expectations for student learning. The curriculum links the
school's beliefs, its expectations for student learning, and its instructional prac
tices. The strength of that link is dependent upon the professional staff's commit
ment to and involvement in a comprehensive, ongoing review of the curriculum.
(Commission on Public Secondary Schools, 2005, p. 4)

It sounds straightforward: derive the curriculum content and its requisite teaching—the “inputs”—from the performance goals—the “outputs.” Logically, the curriculum emerges as a result of asking, “If that is what learners are supposed to accomplish in school and be prepared to accomplish in the future, what should the learning plan look like, and what methods of learning and instruction are most likely to help us achieve our goals?” We have also said that a primary aim of schooling is to develop student understanding—the ability to make meaning of and transfer the learning—and the related habits of mind that both permit and flow from such . . .

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