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?

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!

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants

We all have a Growth Mindset (sometimes)

Playing video games or sports are examples of where we persist. We never give up because we get frustrated and want the notoriety of beating the game, or scoring the game winning goal. It is competitiveness and it is the way we are wired. So, use that to your advantage as a teacher when talking with your students!

I started talking about Odell Beckham Jr. (a favorite among most middle school football fans) and his famous catch. It is ridiculous. The sports world went crazy for how impossible this catch was. Afterwards, when the dust settled from this amazing touchdown, we realized that it wasn’t luck. It was a skill that he has been developing for a long time.

I took a ball and passed it back and fourth with a student gingerly. Asking the class if we are going to make a crazy catch like that. Of course not! We’re not testing ourselves. We’re not trying new things, not practicing running and catch, or defending the pass from the defender(he was also fouled on the play).  What about the one handed catch?

I then showed the catch to the students… They all loved it.See it below.


Afterwards we talked about the catch, it’s insane! Talked about how it could be luck, but then I showed my students this video.

He is still practicing his one handed catches. Something he knows he needs to work on to be the best receiver he can be.

What can you do work on? What have you failed at that you need to get better? What is something that you failed at first, that you worked on to be successful?

Hands flew up. Many sports stories about goalies letting in easy goals to hockey skating skills. I want students to see that they already have a growth mindset in some areas, you just need to tap that drive to compete and be successful and harness it for other areas of your life.

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!


Make a Radio Show for your Class!


I am having my students create a podcast to show off a certain skill that they know about computers. This is my first time using a podcast with the iPads, so feel free to chime in if you know of a better way to go about doing this.

I have four iPads and four rows of students, so I figured that I would divide each row into groups and give them an iPad. I used two apps to get this done.

Rec Pad $2

BossJock $10

Basically, what I had the students do was use Rec Pad to record themselves reading their written script. Then I Sent it to Bossjock and ordered it into a recording.
It was a lot of work, but the payoff was a few great recordings. In hindsight, maybe I would have students investigate more about certain skills, so I wouldn’t hear so many explanations about control shortcuts, but it was a good first run around.

another thing was that Students handled their iPads a lot so the recordings came out scratchy, I would try to do a better job of having them listen to their recordings. This can be tough because if you have an hour of class time, students can do multiple re takes until they are satisfied, leaving your lesson to stretch out over weeks of time.

Overall I think that the podcast idea is a good one.  I spent a lot of time with this combination, but it came out great. Next time I would just move the files over to audacity and do it all at once. but, you live and learn, so take note, because your students will love this assignment!


Educational Technology Opportunities

Teaching about technology in school is my thing, but I have realized that there are plenty of other opportunities from companies and organizations outside of my school that can help get students excited about learning new things about technology and even might help propel them into a STEM field later in life. Below I will make a list of good programs or websites that are helping to put technology into the hands of K-12 Students (that I know of).

Google Ninja Program: The Ninja program is a free tutorial site that allows users to learn about specific Google products and services. This is great for teachers, parents and students who want a fun and easy way to learn about Google Apps.

Technovation, Global Technology Entrepreneurship Program for Girls. This program looks really exciting, it is a free program that teaches girls how to build a sample business plan and how to code an app. No prior knowledge is necessary. It looks like it is a lot of work, but the experience and results are very compelling! First place in the Middle School category wins $5000 and a trip to Silicon Valley to pitch their app!

MIT App Inventor: App Inventor is an Android app creation software that helps using a block style way of coding to help students create an Android app!

Explore MIT App Inventor logo