Some time ago I mentioned that our school was undertaking an initiative to redo ALL of our curriculum following the Understanding by Design model. I have dragged myself through the required readings and discussion board posts - some of it has honestly been very interesting but by Thursday doing homework myself is usually the last thing on my mind. I am happy that I feel like we are finally moving into applying the skills that we are learning. Last week drafts of our Big Ideas were due to be shared with our colleagues. The Big Ideas are supposed to be overarching concepts that are necessary for students to develop transferable understanding.
I have decided that for my first unit I will focus on cellular energy (photosynthesis and cellular respiration). Cellular energy is something that I have struggled in teaching in the past. I have some great lab activities and inquiry projects but I always felt like there was a disconnect, like we were doing the lab work but the students were not really getting the big picture. I am hoping that looking at this unit under a microscope and reworking it following the UbD model will help me solve this issue once and for all.
Based on this topic I have reviewed the standards and settled upon the following Big Ideas for my unit. Warning! Much of the language here is not mine, it is pulled from the NGSS crosscutting concepts. We were told not to reinvent the wheel if we didn't have to, so I am taking the help where I can get it. The hardest part therefore wasn't writing the statements but figuring out which ones would apply to this particular unit for me.
1) Energy and Matter:
-All living things obtain and use energy.
- Energy cannot be created or destroyed.
- Energy drives the cycling of matter within and between systems.
2) Systems and Models
- Models can be used to simulate systems and interactions.
I believe that next up on our to-do list for this is writing essential questions and enduring understandings. Stay tuned for more progress.