Sunday, September 11, 2011

How to Write Enduring Understandings - What's the Big Idea?

It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day details of our classrooms --lunch counts, testing, reading groups,homework, specials schedules, assemblies. Every once in awhile, even the best teachers find that their lessons have wandered off track.   Sometimes we need to be reminded to stop, take a step back and look at the big picture.  In our classrooms, the big picture is made up of the main themes or ideas we build our lessons around during the school year.  These big ideas help us to plan units, choose materials and develop projects.   Enduring Understandings is the phrase we can use to help us label these big ideas.   The first step in creating a curriculum is to identify what the Enduring Understandings will be.

Guiding Questions for Identifying Enduring Understandings
  •  List units that you teach - What connecting ideas can you see between the units?
  •  If you had to come up with 4 or 5  words or phrases to describe what you want your students to learn in a year's worth of your class, what would they be?
  •  Using a web or other graphic organizer to lay out your lessons for the year - what topics would you place in the main idea circles?
  • At the end of a year, how would students define the important ideas they learned in your class?
  • If you had to design a bulletin board that you could leave up all year, what ideas would you want to include on it?
  • If you had one day to spend teaching your students before they moved on to another teacher, what would be the key ideas you would want them to understand before they walked out of your class?
  • What pictures would you draw to symbolize the big ideas in your classroom?
Examples
  • 3rd Grade    "Being a Problem Solver"   This enduring understanding could be used in Math, Science, Language Arts and Social Studies as the basis for developing unit ideas or lessons.
  • k-6   "Cycles"   This enduring understanding could be used in Science and Social Studies.
What examples can you think of....add them in "comments"


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