Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grant Wiggins: Big Idea


I have a workshop coming up this Saturday on authoring STEM curriculum. One of the key starting points will be identifying a big idea that threads the student learning experiences together.

A definition of a big idea that I use is a concept that is actionable (i.e. provides guidance, a schema, a framework for understanding disparate information) and transferable (i.e. the concept or theme can be applied to multiple scenarios or contexts). This definition is heavily influenced by an article written by Grant Wiggins, a Harvard University researcher who in partnership with Jay McTighe authored the Understanding By Design curriculum. What I like about this article is the definition of a big idea is spelled out clearly and concisely, and there are great examples such as "follow the money" (detective's big idea) or Newton's law's of motion (science big idea). Overall a solid resource for wrapping your head around how to incorporate powerful ideas into your instruction.