As part of an ongoing and culminating project for my EDTC 6102 course this winter, my cohort members and I were asked to create a community engagement project using backward design thinking, from Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s Understanding by Design (UbD) Model. For my project, I decided I wanted to focus on our 4/5 SPARK unit “The Journey of Foods.” This unit ended up being one of my favorite units to teach, however upon reflecting on the desired results the last time I taught it (two years ago), I was left wondering about what my students actually learned. There was so much content packed into this unit, and it was clear to me that it needed to be scaled back and redesigned. I felt that this project would be a great opportunity to use Understanding by Design’s backward design model to re-examine this unit’s established goals and essential questions, and help to define clearer, more intentional learning outcomes. I knew that I wanted to do develop a detailed plan using the three stages of the UbD Model, but before I did I wanted to outline what these stages looked like as a unit overview. Identifying are three stages of the unit and its essential questions and desired results helped me to then focus in on one specific lesson. Below are the three stages outlined for “The Journey of Foods” unit.Stages1-3-_-Unit-Overview
After I had used the UbD Model to reconstruct an overview of my “Journey of Foods” unit, I was able to more effectively identify which lesson I wanted to focus on. I was interested in developing Lesson 9: Ways that we can reduce food waste (Day 3) with the UbD Model because this lesson has students utilizing the knowledge they have gained from throughout the unit to demonstrate performance tasks around a school food waste audit. Developing stage 1 of this lesson came quickly for me because I was able to efficiently identify desired results that were outlined in the unit overview. I believe this lesson connects with ISTE Students Standard # 2: Digital Citizenship because for the culminating performance tasks students are asked to create Flipgrid videos to share out their findings from their school waste audit. These Flipgrid video QR codes will be displayed near waste reciprocals around the school to connect with an authentic audience and educate the community.Stage-1-Lesson-9_-Ways-that-we-can-reduce-food-waste-day-3
Once I had planned out what the desired results look like for this lesson, I focused on the performance tasks and the was students would be assessed on their understanding. In this lesson, students participate in a school food waste audit. Students have an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways. These assessments will show up as both informal assessments and self-assessment refections. Students will participate in class discussions, collaborate in a group setting, and demonstrate their understanding through creative digital posters and interactive videos. After completing the food waste audit at the culmination of this lesson, students will also receive feedback through the Food Waste Audit Rubric.Stage-2-Lesson-9_-Ways-that-we-can-reduce-food-waste-day-3
In completing stage 3 of the UbD Model for this lesson, I felt challenged in my lesson plan design in a way I have felt in a while. Throughout this stage I felt myself reflecting back on stage 1 and 2, making sure they were intentionally connected and connecting back to the desired results identified. When it came to lesson planning, I wanted to think purposefully about the “WHERETO” elements of this lesson and how it all tied together. In the unit overview, I outlined the 11-day unit, but in stage 3 below you will find a more detailed lesson plan that walks through each of the teaching points I would deliver to my students.Stage-3-Lesson-9_-Ways-that-we-can-reduce-food-waste-day-3
Lesson Plan Links:
Food Waste Infographic
Food Waste Bin Signs (Recycling, Trash, Compost)
What goes into recycling? poster
Food waste harms climate, water, land, and biodiversity
Food Waste Audit
Food Waste Audit Rubric (in collaboration with ThemeSpark)
As I reflect on this community engagement project, I am really grateful for the knowledge I have gained around Understanding by Design and the backward design model. What I am aware of now in reflecting on this project, is that many of these components I was already doing without realizing it. I think that this is an important takeaway because hopefully, this is a helpful reflection for other educators looking to explore this model for the first time. Due to the unforeseen circumstance of needing to shift to distance learning, I ended up modifying the food waste audit. Instead of completing this performance task at school, students will be completing an at-home food waste audit. They’ll be weighing their food waste, accessing how well their family has disposed of waste, making posters to educate their family, and performing a second audit. In the end, the way this design model stretched my thinking and helped me to grow in lesson plan design, ultimately made this unforeseen shift that much more seamless. I am excited to continue to explore and grow in using the UbD Model.
ISTE Standards for Students. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students
Wiggins, G., & Mctighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design, Expanded 2Nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.