We’ll Start At The End….

CategoriesEDLD 5313innovation planunderstanding by designTagged ,

In my last post, I outlined goals (both Big Hairy Audacious ones and…Little Bald Reticent ones?) for my innovation plan, which can be found here. In that post, I used a modified version of Fink’s 3-column table to map out goals, activities, and assessments for the Technology-Assisted Music Course that is the keystone of that plan.

In this post, I’ve taken a different approach to do a deeper dive into one part of that class. Using the “backward design” principles put forth in McTighe and Wiggins’ Understanding By Design (2005), I designed one of the culminating projects of the TAM course: an “audio self-portrait,” in which students attempt to express part of their personalities through self-produced audio recordings of their own compositions.

In my as-yet-limited experience with the Fink and UbD models, I have found that Fink’s 3-column table was very helpful for helping me get a wide view of the course learning goals. Once I began looking in more detail at specific content units, I found the UbD model much more useful. The 3-column table made me consider the broader plans for the course and overarching themes to keep in mind, which I found I was greatly in need of. When I began designing the individual units and activities outlined in the table, however, the high level of detail and critical examination required by the UbD model really helped me focus all of my energies on keeping the activities pointed at the learning goals. As my mother has often said, and I have often repeated, “It’s good to have a plan, if only so you have something to deviate from.”


Fink, L. D. (2003). A self-directed guide to designing courses for significant learning.  Retrieved from https://www.deefinkandassociates.com/GuidetoCourseDesignAug05.pdf

McTighe, J., & Wiggins, G. (2005). Understanding by design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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About the author

I am an instructional technologist for the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry in Richmond, VA. Before that, I spent more than 20 years as a public school music teacher in Chesterfield County, VA, primarily teaching guitar and music technoogy at the high school level. I hold a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of Richmond, and a Master of Education degree with a focus on Digital Learning and Leading from Lamar University. I believe that every person has the need, the desire, the ability, and the right to learn, and that as educators we must meet our students wherever they are, and help bring them to where they want and deserve to be.