This weekend I had the pleasure of attending an EARCOS workshop on Understanding by Design with Jay McTighe at ISKL (as part of the Educational Leadership certification program I am doing through SUNY Buffalo). It is always so rewarding and motivating to attend these types of events where I can learn how to do my job better.

Sometimes I feel so wrapped up in technology that I can forget about other aspects of teaching and learning. This weekend was a great opportunity to work with colleagues from my own school, as well as people from around the South East Asia region. And, of course, to have the author of the book present his own methods – it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

I really enjoy working on aligning standards and assessments (that sounds strange when I read it over, but it’s true). I like the idea of making assessments and standards transparant through essential questions and big ideas. Why do I always try to cover more than I need to? If I focus on my standards and ensure that there is alignment, both the students and I will have an easier time.

This weekend was a clear reminder of that process. We did an activity where we created a UbD unit plan in small groups. When our plan was done, we joined 2 other small groups and shared only our assessment tasks (which used the GRASPS model). The other groups had to determine what our essential understandings were just by reading our assessments. That was an excellent way to see if we are really aligning our assessments. I only wish there was more time to be able to do these kinds of things on a regular basis. I know that schools understand the value and benefits of working together, but it seems like we never get dedicated time to things like this in the schools I’ve worked at. What are your schools like?

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