Tips for Teaching for Understanding: Ongoing Assessment

How do we navigate an open-ended classroom, with students working collaboratively while at the same time accurately assessing individual understanding? This is one of the primary challenges teachers face when making changes to their practice and adopting new techniques.

We want students to be driven by their innate curiosity and interests, but how can we chart this evenly across the entire roster of our class?

This simple question forces us to look into our philosophy on assessment. What is the purpose of assessment and how is it being used in our classes? With a shift towards understanding, over coverage, our assessments need to chart understanding and not simply give an evaluative snapshot. Let’s take a look at ongoing assessment. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching for Understanding: Ongoing Assessment”

Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Performances

Previously, we summarized what Understanding Goals are and their placement within the Teaching for Understanding framework. Let’s take a look at Understanding Performances to see how they relate.

The major difference between understanding goals (UGs) and understanding performances (UPs) is UGs state what students should understand while UPs are what students do to demonstrate their understanding. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Performances”

Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Goals

According to The Teaching for Understanding Guide, there are four components to the framework:

  • Generative Topics
  • Understanding Goals
  • Performances of Understanding
  • Ongoing Assessment

We looked at Generative Topics here and that would be a great place to start if you are considering retooling your practice. Here, we are going to take a look at Understanding Goals and how they can be implemented. Continue reading “Tips for Teaching For Understanding: Understanding Goals”

Tips for Teaching with Generative Topics

One aspect of developing a practice of teaching that focuses on understanding is using what is called “generative topics”. These are topics that are both interesting to students and to teachers and often reach across curricula. Because of their open-ended nature, they are accessible to students of various abilities and also can yield a wide range of resources.

Yet, with so much open about generative topics, how can we as teachers use them to bridge our students towards thinking, learning, and ultimately understanding? Continue reading “Tips for Teaching with Generative Topics”

A Framework for Teaching for Understanding

Every teacher incorporates, knowingly or not, a framework into their classroom practice. This is the skeleton, or bones, of a course and helps provide reference points for what needs to take place in class.

A framework is vital for a couple of reasons – to help consciously focus on your practice so that improvements can be made during reflection and also to create a way to discuss with other teachers how to institute necessary changes. Often times, we are tasked with collaborating with others and if we do not have a framework in place, there will be lots of frustration regarding what approach should be taken. How free are you to teach a shared course the way you want? Having a framework in place helps ease such tensions. Continue reading “A Framework for Teaching for Understanding”