SMART Chapter 3 and Understanding by Design (Overview)

When exploring the theme of teachers and their functions, it is important to consider the question, “What do we teach?” and its implications.  It is apparent that teachers have a curriculum that, through different mediums, is delivered to the students.  Simply delivering the curriculum to the students, however, does not induce actual learning or retention of the content matter.  It is not only a matter of what it is that teachers teach but also how they teach.  In the readings, it is clear that teachers must have a seeming backward mindset when it comes to how they approach the construction of their curriculum.  Teachers must ask themselves first what are the big concepts and themes they want their students to grasp.  Once there is a foundation, it can be built upon by activities, readings, relevant evidence, and assignments that can be tied to the concepts and also help to reinforce the ‘big picture.’  Due to adolescents entering a phase in their life in which their brain is more adept to making complex connections and being cognitive of relationships, they are able to handle big themes and big ideas that they can then retain and draw upon when exploring new themes in a particular subject.  What adolescents are not equipped for is having endless information being thrown at them and being expected to retain all of it.  Rather, if teachers organize their curriculum by the concepts and themes they want their students to understand, then the readings and assignments can be used as a means of making a connection to the concept that is trying to be unlocked by the student.


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