Design Thinking: "The Big Picture"


Last year, my campus began to implement Understanding by Design (UbD), and this year I have worked hard to grasp the concepts in a deeper, more meaningful way than before.

Since November, I have attended three UbD Stage 1 trainings where I really dug into writing Transfer Goals, Essential Questions, and Enduring Understandings.

At the first training I attended, led by Brooke Sims (@dlcoachbrooke) and Ashley Minton (@AM_MathCoach), the idea that stuck most with me actually had nothing to do with any of these concepts. After each new idea was explained and explored in the training, participants were directed to write a brief reflection and add it to a Making Meaning Mural. The images on the mural all represented different components of the training.

Something about the combination of images, pointed reflection, connections to reflections of others, and the blood flow returning to my legs when I got up to add my Post-Its to the wall made this a meaningful experience for me, so of course I wanted to find a way to use this in my classroom.


When I pitched my idea to Brooke, she jumped on board immediately and began brainstorming ways to bring this into my classroom. Brooke introduced me to Hexagonal Thinking, and after reading about it and doing lots of brainstorming, we came up with a plan that I am so excited to implement!

The Enduring Understandings for this unit will actually span the entire semester, and we will use what we've dubbed "The Big Picture" to work toward these understandings:

Students will be able to independently use their learning to…
  • be empathetic toward the struggles of others both near and far.
  • express empathy toward the struggles of others through effective communication.

We are beginning the unit with Lit Circles. Each Lit Circle will read a historical fiction novel from a list I cultivated. Each group consists of 3-5 learners who have chosen a lens through which to examine their novel as they read (character, setting, conflict, or plot).




Daily responses to the novels will occur in the form of a Dialectical Journal-esque reflection, which you can read about here.

I introduced journal in class today and my kids established their roles within the Lit Circle. Tomorrow my kids will decide what form their personal reflections will take.

Our next big steps will be:

  1. Begin reflecting in the Dialectical Journals, keeping in mind the first essential question (Why do humans perpetuate social injustice on others?)
  2. View a series of ports that expose the learners to different modes of reflection so that they can determine what works best for them as well as explore new ways of reflecting

Brooke and I will be blogging as this process unfolds, and I hope you will join us on our journey in The Big Picture! 

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