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Stephanie L. Thompson
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I at first felt very daunted by the concept of backward design (i.e. Understanding by Design, or UBD). It looked really complicated, it sounded like "teaching to the test", and I thought for sure that it would add an ungodly amount of extra hours to my lesson planning. I stubbornly claimed (at first) that I would NEVER switch from how I was already doing things! However, after I took a class in Understanding by Design, I realized just how GOOD this method actually is. So, before I go any further with my review, let me strongly encourage anyone looking into buying this book to see if you can also take a class in this methodology or even just attend a conference session about it -- there are also, sometimes, decent webinars about it. UBD can be very overwhelming at first, especially if you're used to a different method in your curriculum design and/or lesson planning.
As I learned after implementing this in all of the classes that I taught for a year, UBD does take more time at first. I found that by making a template in my word processing program, I was able to cut the design process length down considerably; also, you get faster as you get more experienced. I do NOT recommend using this as a means for creating daily lesson plans, as the format is so detailed that you'd have little time for anything else. However, for unit plans, this is a fantastic method (and the way it's done, you then don't need to write out separate daily lesson plans). Everything is measurable! Everything is balanced! You plan the assessment methods right as you figure out the content, so that you start out from the beginning knowing exactly how you'll prove that students have learned, as well as well as what they will learn. There is emphasis, too, on building in opportunities for metacognition, which is so important if you want to train students into becoming more masterful learners. From the students' standpoint, they get much more organized classes out of this, and they also have a much better idea of exactly what is expected of them. Furthermore, by me getting so organized about making sure my units had all the necessary parts, I ended up teaching much, much better.
I used UBD as a high school teacher, but now that I'm in a PhD program, I am using it in the creation of college courses (100-level electives). The framework makes so much sense and it is surprisingly helpful to my own ingenuity and creativity. Some people fear UBD-style course design because they think it'll make them too formulaic as teachers, but I've found the exact opposite to be true. It alters the way that you think about lessons as much as it does how you create/plan them. Finally, I found that my job satisfaction really increased when I started using this methodology, largely because my output was so much better and I knew for a fact that it was better. It makes a huge difference to how you go about a job when you know that you're doing it well.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to become a master teacher (or even to current master teachers who want to be even better). However, as I mentioned, I also recommend that you don't just get the book on its own. Try to find some form of additional training to help you understand it better and visualize better how things work. The book is a great resource, for sure, but it is a LOT to take in, especially if you are not already familiar with backward design.