Overview of the Understanding Ideal
The Understanding module helps students delve
into the complexities involved in directing one's own learning
for understanding. Specifically, the Understanding module aims to:
- Increase students' appreciation for what
is involved in developing understanding – as opposed to merely working
to remember knowledge and skills.
- Develop students' awareness of occasions
when it is important to invest time and energy in working to understand
- Provide students with strategies that they
can use to develop their own understanding.
- Engage students in reflection and communication
that fosters the thinking skills involved in developing understanding.
As in all the modules, the Understanding Module makes extensive use of learning routines that are thinking rich. These routines are simple structures—for example, a set of questions or a short sequence of steps—that can be used across various grade levels and content. The routines become the ways in which students go about the process of learning. Routines are always used for a purpose and not merely to practice the routine. Routines for any one module are not exclusive to that particular module. For example, there are perspective-taking routines in both the Understanding and the Fairness modules,. In addition, some routines work well across all modules. Think-Pair-Share and What makes you say that? are good examples of such routines. The seven routines for this module are:
- What makes you say that? A routine for looking
closely, interpreting what is observed, and reasoning with evidence
- Think, Puzzle, Explore. A routine for eliciting
prior knowledge and developing curiosity about
- Think, Pair, Share. A routine for promoting
communication and active engagement of all students
- Headlines. A routine for summarizing and
consolidating ideas, events, and experiences.
- Question Starts. A routine for activating
curiosity and generating questions for exploration.
- The Explanation Game. A routine for building
explanations about parts or features of something.
- Connect, Extend, Challenge. A routine for
processing and making sense of new information.
Each of these routines is explained in the Understanding
Because the Understanding module is an inquiry
into students' thinking as much as it is an instructional program,
the module includes several activities for probing students' thinking.
These are often done at the beginning of the module as a way of
the Ideal. Other activities involve students in reflecting on
their learning and can be found in the Working
with the Ideal section. Finally, wrap up and post-measures of
students' thinking are included in the Looking
at Students' Conceptual Development section.