Understanding by Design: Unit Calendar

Unit Calendar 
Day 1- IntroTeacher will read aloud some of Aesop’s Fables and lead a discussion about the moral of each story. Day 2- FablesStudents will work together to compare/contrast fables with other fictional tales using a venn diagram. Day 3- AssessStudents create a rubric or checklist for determining if a story is a fable. They will apply this checklist to several stories, practicing retelling and assessing skills. Day 4- CreateUsing their checklists as a guideline, students will create a story web for an original fable, including characters, a problem, a solution, and a moral. Day 5- DraftStudents will create first drafts of an original fable.
Day 6- EditFocusing on content, students will edit their rough drafts Day 7- ReviseStudents will revise their second drafts, focusing on grammar and punctuation, to produce a final draft. Day 8- EvaluateStudents work in groups to evaluate each other’s final fable drafts using checklists previously created. Day 9- PresentStudents will practice and perform one original fable they have selected from their group. Day 10- PresentStudents will practice and perform one original fable they have selected from their group.

This curriculum calendar, suited for 1st or 2nd grade, depending on the stories and complexity of the material. I am enjoying working with Understanding by Design because I am able to take any learning outcome I desire and formulate an entire unit around it. While creating lessons for my early childhood students, I often find myself creating lessons that I know they will enjoy and that contain activities that meet the needs of the children. For early childhood education, where there are no concrete learning standards, lessons tend to be all over the place. It’s hard to create entire units. Using the Understanding by Design format, I can create units based on a few ‘big questions’ and then my single lessons, which all work towards a large goal, can contain smaller skills that need to be practiced.


Beginning next school year, I will no longer be teaching, but will be a curriculum coordinator for my early childhood development center. My job will be to help teachers create and implement developmentally appropriate curriculum that the students will most benefit from. I plan to spend the summer adapting UbD to meet the needs of my school and training teachers to work backwards when creating lessons. I look forward to using this instruction design technique with teachers and students. The authors of Understanding by Design discuss several rules that teachers need to keep in mind while designing a unit. They all focus on advancing students’ understandings as they work through the unit. One rule, “Understandings are of two kinds, topical and overarching.” (2005), is often overlooked by early childhood teachers. We tend to focus on either topical or overarching understandings, instead of combining the two. In my school, I see this most often because teachers are creating their own curriculum without a set of common standards or a knowledge of the standards in the grades following their own. UbD can help these teachers create units of study that guide children through all the necessary learning and still provide the topical understandings that ECE teachers are always so excited to teach!



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



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