Transformational Teaching: UbD for pre-service teachers

This was my final ASCD session 😦 , and it was from the standpoint of teacher education; a university team from Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, involved in pre-service education, and how they were working with UbD with these new teachers.

New Jersey revised Core Curriculum Content Standards in 2008 and that revision was framed in the language of backward design: big ideas, essential questions, enduring understandings. (Wiggins is from New Jersey!) For a brief moment listening to yet another state talk about their journey, I felt that a national curriculum might be a good idea.

They began with a single faculty (Science), followed up by a team who went to Princeton to work with Wiggins. Not everyone was on board or enthusiastic (surprise?) However, UbD was infused into all subject matter methods at both undergraduate and graduate levels for initial certification candidates.  They then took these ideas and presented it at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in January 2010.

‘It’s everywhere now’ is the message.

We then moved into activities (eek): a carousel brainstorming activity which aimed to explore the differences between knowledge and understanding.

They also linked UbD (kinda sketchily) with Bloom’s taxonomy and the six facets of understanding (explanation, interpretation, application, perspective, empathy, self-knowledge) and see it as connecting well.

Interestingly, they emphasised the terminology of instructional blueprint over lesson or unit plans.

The key message of this session for me was that UbD was now so entrenched that it was becoming part of core practice in some teacher training

The presenters were:

Dr Donna Jorgensen

Dr Martha Viator

Dr James Stiles

Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

And then I was walking out of the big convention centre for the last time,  with people heading off to all corners of the United States, many with their bags already packed and heading out to the airport directly, the Exhibitor’s Hall already dismantled and the cleaning staff moving in.

I’ll reflect on the big picture meaning of the conference on the way home. I’d like to pick up on the themes and ideas that resonated for me across the sessions and how they apply to my own context.  I also want to prepare a presentation summing up some of those ideas too.

I’ve enjoyed walking around San Antonio too. It’s a strange place from an Australian perspective, Texan, Mexican; a widely distributed city that, according to Wikipedia, is the seventh largest city in the USA at 1.3 million.  It certainly didn’t feel that big or busy, or prosperous really, and I imagine a lot of the life of the city must be out in the suburbs away from the city centre. I loved the Alamo and the Cathedral and the Riverwalk, and I’ll post some better photos when I get home and make sense of them.

Meanwhile, I’ve got at least 25 hours of travelling ahead of me today, and a long wait at LAX.