Understanding By Design: Curriculum Map

Curriculum Map


Theme, Enduring Understandings, and Essential Questions for Unit

How Students Will Demonstrate Their Understanding

Standards-based Essential Skills and Concepts to be Targeted Throughout

Strategies/Best Practices Used to Explicitly Teach the Skills and Concepts

Resources for this Unit

Theme: Fables

Enduring Understandings:

Fictional stories, called fables, are used to teach a lesson.


Fables contain specific elements that make up the story structure.


Essential Questions:

How do we learn lessons from the characters in fiction?


How is a fable different from other fiction?

Summative Assessment: Teacher will use a rubric to assess final drafts of students’ original fables.


Formative Assessment: Student/Teacherconferences during editing/revising process of fables, peer evaluation using rubric/checklist after final draft of fables.

Students will identify key elements in popular fables.


Students will write fables in which they appropriately use the structural elements of a fable.


Students will practice reading fables aloud with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression.


Teacher will model and lead collaborative effort to complete venn diagrams.


Students will connect prior knowledge from other writing units to continue strengthening their writing abilities.


Students will learn by watching, listening, and participating.

Venn diagram template


Student Original Fable rubric


Conferencing Sheets for teacher


Writing Supplies (pencils, lined paper, etc.)

While creating a curriculum unit using the Understanding by Design format, a teacher must first determine the learning outcomes desired. This approach focuses on the standards and learning that are to be learned by students, rather than the instruction and activities planned by the teacher. According to Wiggins and McTighe (2005), ways to assess student learning should be created along with determining learning out comes, or big questions to be answered. They recommend teachers follow the following three steps to correctly implement Understanding by Design in their curriculum design.
Stage 1- Identify desired results.
Stage 2- Determine acceptable evidence.
Stage 3- Plan learning experiences and instruction. (p. 18)

During the creation of my Understanding by Design unit, I have been reflecting on my own approach to instruction and lesson planning. I created a unit for first grade, as UbD lends itself to elementary to high school learning, however, I currently teach in the early education field. As I attempted to focus my lessons on answering ‘big questions’ instead of the instruction itself, I considered how this would translate into an early childhood classroom. I believe that the big questions in early childhood are even more broad. For example, for many of my students the concept of writing carrying meaning is a ‘big question’ they are beginning to answer. This both complicates and simplifies the Understanding by Design units that I can create for my students. I feel the more broad the question, such as teaching the alphabetic principle, the more options I have when it comes to helping my students answer this question. However, the attention span of my students is much shorter than those of older children, therefore my units have to remain short and simplistic. Understanding this approach to instruction has already increased learning in my classroom. By working lessons backwards I am able to ensure that my lessons are meeting the needs of students.

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J., (2005) Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.


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