Quick and easy UDB

You Win UBD, you Win.

UBD is tried and true. It might get some flack from teachers but at the end of the day, if you are unsure of what you are teaching, or how you are teaching, nobody is going to call you crazy for focusing on UBD.

I still remember the day that I learned about UBD. It was a lecture class, It was late, I had worked all day and was taking a class from 6-10 once a week. Yikes. Then the Prof started talking about these things called UBD, I already thought she was nuts but, by this time I think I had confirmed it.

Honestly, I got through the class but I still dont think that I had a firm grip on the topic. I’ve been thinking about how there are some gaps in my Genius Hour and I think that part of my issue is that when problems come up, I just try to patch them with a new Stage 3 task, then a Stage 2 to get Stage 1…I’m doing UBD backwards! So, I’m going to dive back in and try to clean up this Genius Hour class.

If this is murky for you as well, here are the coveted Three Stages:

Stage 1  (Remember this is backwards Design):

What is your Essential Question or Enduring Understanding for your students when you are done? Look at Standards, content or do research to figure out what is important that they know. Write that down.

Stage 2

How can you assess what they have done? What will you use to determine if students are proficient in the content that is being delivered? Make those assessment(s)

Stage 3

Now create your activities. Using materials and instruction that helps your attain your Stage 1 goals using Stage 2 Assessments. Get your stuff together!

Some teachers do UDB in the brain automatically I’m sure. There is a tendency to go from 3-2-1 and I get how you can leave students behind in the gaps if you go that route. How do you plan your lessons? Always consulting Wiggins? Or do you martch to a different beat?

Genius Hour Motivation

Genius Hour Motivation: An Honest Discussion


I started my first Genius Hour class this year and had high hopes coming in. I was excited to read a plethora of stories online about students solving real world problems as well as creating connections with community members and improving the surrounding community. As it began some students were motivated and went off to the races, they loved the idea. I was surprised by the number of students who had no idea what they wanted to do. To them this was yet another school project handed down by the man, a real eye roller. They did have Genius Hour motivation! I thought that came with the territory?

A few weeks into Genius Hour, I found myself pleading with students to pick a good topic…or to do anything at all!

  • Some had no idea what they wanted to do, nor had interest in any topics
  • others picked topics with very little information(Ligers)
  • a few just wouldn’t do anything. Seriously they just sat there.
  • A few just watched videos of O’dell Beckham

Even more, I found myself constantly pushing kids. Really hard to do research and to dig into their topics more. If this is supposed to be a passion project…where is the passion!?

I think the online teacher community can be a bit of a utopia sometimes.

People are tweeting and blogging about all these sunny day lessons that kids love and helps them learn tough concepts. Teachers have 3rd graders fixing water sprinklers and others have 5th graders coding in C++. Not to say I dont have those kids, I do. They are great, they are self starting and Genius Hour is a time for them to flourish. Their projects really keep me encouraged about how important 20% time is.

It doesn’t always go great in classrooms. I think if I could critique most of what I read online is that we as teachers do not post what could or will go wrong in a lesson or activity like Genius Hour. I do still love the idea but I am saddened by the way a large percentage of my kids regard Genius Hour that I am tempted to just ditch the project for them and give them more of a scaffolded lesson, because I think in their strange way, they are uncomfortable with the freedom the Genius Hour provides. Does this make sense?

Also, I don’t want to come off that I am not open to suggestions, and am just another teacher whining about newer trends. I am open! I just would like to get out and see what other teachers are doing to deal with a lack of motivation in a class that bills itself as a…self-starter for kids.

So, what do you do? How do you battle this problem and motivate those students in your class who are not captured by the Genius Hour allure?

I want your brain to hurt.

A student said a really nice thing to me the other day and he didnt even realize it. He said “Mr. Worth, my brain hurts leaving your class.” This made my day.

Not to mention the behaviors that we squashed at the beginning of the class, I had no idea the class with this student would end on such a positive note. I want my students to get the feeling when they leave  because that means learning is happening.

I remember in college leaving classes with a complete migrane becuase my mind had been opened in such a way that I knew I would never be the same. Learning has that power on us. I hope to have all my lessons to be in such a condition of rigor that students are always leaving my class with that feeling. So yes. When I think of if I have succeeded as a teacher, I want my students brains to hurt afterwards!

Let your students fail.




This week in my technology classes I have been trying to explain what it takes to have a growth mindset to my students. I have done this in the past as a few inspirational speeches but I’ve tried a few things this week that I think are helpful to teaching this awesome outlook on life. First up is Letting your students fail.

I’ll say it again, let them fail.

We love to tell students and then let them practice this new skill before we let them experience life before we (hopefully) brought new knowledge into their lives. For growth mindset teaching to students, I think it is important to show students first that they might fail while trying an assignment. So, you might let your students try an activity with vague directions, or no directions at all. This might be hard and confusing for students, so don’t let this go on for very long. Then stop the class, talk about failures and successes, what worked? What didn’t? Focus on how failure can help your students learn what not to do on the road to learning the correct process!

I thought hard about failure this week and it is really a great thing, it shows our students what doesn’t work. Sometimes, it is frustrating, but it is another rung on the ladder of success. Try to celebrate those times when a student fails, then decides to use that information to a new academic or relationship success!