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Identify Desired Results

  • What should students know, understand, and be able to do?

  • What is the ultimate transfer we seek as a result of this unit?

  • What enduring understandings are desired?

  • What essential questions will be explored in-depth and provide focus to all learning?


  • Desired results do not necessarily have to be linked to 'standards,' they can be community driven


Developed by Wiggins and McTighe, Understanding by Design (UbD) is a framework for planning high quality yearlong curriculum frameworks and unit plans. Using UbD's backward design, NISN schools plan meaningful learning experiences for their students. 



Determine Assessment Evidence

  • How will we know if students have achieved the desired results?

  • What will we accept as evidence of student understanding and their ability to use (transfer) their learning in new situations?

  • How will we evaluate student performance in fair and consistent ways.


  • Authentic Assessments that reflect how students will transfer what they learned in school to how they act as community members/citizens is important and can include things like elder interviews based on interactions with students



Plan Learning Experiences

  • How will we support learners as they come to understand important ideas and processes?

  • How will we prepare them to autonomously transfer their learning?

  • What enabling knowledge and skills will students need to perform effectively and achieve desired results?

  • What activities, sequence, and resources are best suited to accomplish our goals?


  • Students come to class with funds of knoweldge; planning learning experiences that are student-centered and based on what students can relate to is vital to success.

  • See also Alternative Instructional Methods Section

Understanding by Design

The UbD framework, as used by NISN schools in intended as a way to organize indigenous knowledge and understandings with best practices in 'western education'  to bring cultural learning to students. Here is an Overview of UbD. Here is a video that explains the difference, in UbD context of Knowing versus Understanding.

UbD Resources
Development Tools
Further Readings
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