By Grant Wiggins
Coauthor, with Jay McTighe, of Understanding by Design Over the years, educators have often asked what to consider whenevaluating textbooks in the context of Understanding by Design (UbD). In recent years many publishers have begun to use UbD terminology (e.g., “the big idea” or “essential questions”) as a way to label theirbooks without necessarily integrating the UbD approach. Below is a series of questions to evaluate the fidelity of a textbook program to UbD and help inform your adoption decision. A total score ofmore than 60 (an average rating of at least 3 on each question) would be needed in order to make the claim that the text is faithful to the UbD approach.
Rate textbooks on each criterion using a 1–4scale. ➊ not at all ➋ rarely ➌ usually ➍ always
Do the materials really stay focused on big ideas? Or do they just mention them in passing and focus on content?
Materials provide: • A few “big”questions and ideas—concepts, themes, issues—worthy of intense study • Assessments and activities that ask students to reconsider their previous answers and textbook claims from previous lessons, unitsand/or chapters
• Questions and issues that are vital and thoughtprovoking, not just “teacherly”
Do the materials consistently require learners to draw inferences beyond what isstated in the text? Or are the learning activities predominantly low-level and devoted mostly to learning content without larger purposes or tasks?
Materials provide: • Continual opportunities forstudents to go beyond the content to make important generalizations, conclusions, and other inferences
• Chapters and units that are not only introduced with a key question, concept, orstrategy, but are explicitly organized around them
• A layout that focuses learner’s attention on a few key understanding-related goals without endless distractions
• Work that requires...