Scope and Sequence for the Understanding Ideal

How much time?

The Understanding Module can take anywhere from 12-15 weeks to a whole year to complete. In fact, many teachers never really "complete" or end the Module as understanding is so central to everything that happens in the classroom.

With the exception of the introductory and closing activities, much of the work of the Understanding Module is integrated by way of the thinking routines. This means that no additional instructional time is needed for the activities, though using them meaningfully may require additional planning time and an addition of time for classroom discussion and practice. A new thinking routine might be introduced every week or two weeks. However, since they are so easy to integrate, you need not hold off on introducing a routine if you think it will be useful.

The Understanding module does contain some actual lessons as well. Most notably at the beginning when students' initial ideas are uncovered, in the middle when students are asked to think about occasions for understanding, and at the end when students' current thinking is assessed.


What happens when?

The Understanding Module follows a loose sequence that can be varied and adapted to fit your situation. Uncovering students' thinking and introducing the concept map needs to be done early on in the module to provide you with some basic understanding of how your students are thinking about understanding. After that, the thinking routines can be introduced and used in any order. The idea is not to work through each of the routines with a sense of completion or coverage, but to introduce a new routine in context and then use it as often as it makes sense to do so. In this way the routines become a part of the classroom culture. The initial probing activities to uncover students' thinking will be repeated at the end of the module. The sequence might look like the following:


Introducing the Ideal

Week 1: Initial "Thinking about Thinking" activities

Week 2: Concept maps activity and introduction

General Emphasis: Uncovering students' thinking about understanding. You'll learn what your students' think about understanding. During this initial phase you will also introduce students to the "Understanding Map" to provide an anchor for the key thinking students will be doing throughout the module.

Working with the Ideal

Weeks 3-7: Introduce and practice 2-4 routines

Week 8: Mid-point reflection and discussion

Weeks 9-14: Continue to introduce new routines and practice previous ones. Work on activities for helping students to spot occasions for understanding.

General Emphasis: Exploring, reflecting, and detecting. Students explore the Understanding Ideal and foster the thinking involved with it through regular and repeated use of the routines. Students reflect throughout the module by identify what types of thinking they are using and by considering how their ideas about understanding are changing. Students also learn to detect occasions for developing understanding.

Looking at Students' Conceptual Development

Week 15: Closing Activity and Assessments

General Emphasis: Reviewing and assessing. While you may never completely leave the understanding module, these activities allow you and your students to look back at how their thinking about understanding has changed over the course of the module.