"To 'understand' has two general connotations: (1) applying your understandings, knowledge, and skill effectively in new situations results in successful transfer; and (2) making inferences and grasping connections, to culminate in understanding" (Wiggins & McTighe, 2011, p. 14).
I wanted to use this post to clarify a few terms:
The ability for students to transfer their learning to new and different situations is the ultimate goal of education. We do not want students to parrot back and not retain. We want students to know, understand, and use what they know beyond the context of our classroom. We want students to be able to size up a new challenge and transfer learning efficiently and effectively; rote knowledge alone will not support this ability. Therefore, when students can transfer their learning they can use it in multiple contexts on their own.
We identify transfer goals when we identify what we want students to be able to DO as a result of their learning.
Meaning is divided into two sections on our template: understanding and essential questions
Students come to an understanding by reflecting on and analyzing their learning. They demonstrate their understanding by being able to make important generalizations and connections, sharing new insights, or discovering useful ways to make sense of prior experience or learning. When students can make meaning of what they are learning in broad, theoretical ways, we know that they understand. Understandings can be based on content or process.
- Essential Questions
Being able to pursue quality questions at the heart of a discipline facilitates our understanding of that discipline. As students discover answers to essential questions, they are active in the process of making sense of what they are learning. Students make meaning actively when they continue to consider quality questions.
We identify meaning-making goals when we identify what we want students to UNDERSTAND as a result of their learning.
Acquisition is divided into two sections on our template: knowledge and skills:
Knowledge (facts, vocabulary, basic concepts, etc.) and skills (basic know-how, discrete skills) are the necessary tools of understanding and transfer. Avoid listing picayune facts or definitions; instead, list core building blocks that fit naturally within the unit and that you plan to assess.
We identify acquisition goals when we identify what we want students to KNOW as a result of their learning.