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Enduring Understanding: B.F. Skinner said, "Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten." This statement explains enduring understandings. In Understanding by Design, by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, enduring understandings are defined as "specific inferences, based on big ideas, that have lasting value beyond the classroom." These are typically written as full-sentence statements about what, specifically, your students will understand and be able to use later on in life, even when the small details of what they learned have been forgotten.
Enduring understandings are also transferable in new situations. Wiggins and McTighe explain that, because enduring understandings are often abstract, "they require uncoverage through sustained inquiry rather than one-shot coverage. The student must come to understand or be helped to grasp the idea, as a result of work. If teachers treat an understanding like a fact, the student is unlikely to get it."
Essential Question: An essential question is "a question that lies at the heart of a subject or a curriculum (as opposed to being either trivial or leading) and promotes inquiry and uncoverage of a subject. Essential questions thus do not yield a single straightforward answer (as a leading question does) but produces different plausible responses, about which thoughtful and knowledgeable people may disagree." An essential question can be either overarching or topical (unit-specific) in scope.
(Source: Understanding by Design, by Grant P. Wiggins and Jay McTighe; ISBN: 416600353.)
Explain why physical geography affected the development of early civilizations.
- How did physical geography influence the location and success or decline of early civilizations?
- Identify the major physical features of the regions where ancient civilizations flourished.
- Describe how these features influenced the success or decline of the civilizations.
- Compare maps of these ancient civilizations to current political maps and make inferences about the continuing affects of physical geography on cultural development.
Evaluate how religion has played a central role in human history from ancient times to today.
- What role has religion played in human development from ancient times to modern?
- Explore the importance of religion in the cultural expression of ancient civilizations (e.g. customs, artistic expression, creation stories, architecture of sacred spaces).
- Identify key tenets of the major world religions (i.e. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism).
- Analyze how religious ideas influence current issues.
Explain how modern governments can trace some of their attributes to the systems of power, authority, and governance established in ancient civilizations.
- How are the systems of power, authority, and governance used to establish order in ancient civilizations still present in today’s modern governments?
- Identify forms of government within these civilizations.
- Compare those forms to existing systems of governance in today’s world.
Analyze how the earliest civilizations created technologies and systems to meet community and personal needs.
- How did the people of early civilizations use innovation and technology to meet personal and community needs?
- Identify innovations in manmade structures over time (e.g. irrigation, roads, building materials) and their influence on meeting needs.
- Examine the evolution and importance of writing.
- Identify cultural expressions that reflect these systems (e.g. architecture, artistic expression, medicine, philosophy, drama, literature).
- Compare social classes, vocations, and gender roles within ancient civilizations.
Students will understand the transformation of cultures during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and the impact of this transformation on modern times.
Explain how physical geography affects economic and cultural expansion.
- How does physical geography affect economic and cultural expansion?
- Identify natural resources and physical features that affected expansion.
- Describe the development of international trade via the desert, sea, and land and the resultant cultural exchanges between Asia, the Middle East, and Europe (e.g. the Silk Road)
Explore the importance of religion in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and its relevance to modern times.
- Why was religion important during the Middle Ages and Renaissance?
- How is religious influence from those times relevant today?
- Explain the influence of religion on cultural expression (e.g. the arts, architecture, government, education, family structure).
- Compare relations between the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and the modern world (e.g.
Crusades, periods of peaceful coexistence, periods of conflict).
Examine how systems of governance began steps toward self-rule during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
- How did governmental systems transition toward self-rule during the Middle Ages and Renaissance?
- Examine relationships between significant events and ideas and their influence on systems of government (e.g. the rise of the merchant class, the Magna Carta, the impact of the Black Death, Germanic tribes, feudalism, manors, city-states).
- Compare individual rights of people in the United States today with the rights of selected groups in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (e.g. serfs, nobility, merchant class).
Explain the importance of the Renaissance as a rebirth of cultural and intellectual pursuits.
- Why is the Renaissance described as a rebirth of cultural and intellectual pursuits?
- Investigate how technological and scientific developments of the time promoted literacy and the exchange of ideas that continue to this day (e.g. moveable type, telescope, microscope).
- Identify leading Renaissance artists and thinkers and their contributions to visual arts, writing, music, and architecture (e.g. Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Palestrina, Shakespeare, Tallis).
Students will understand how revolutions have had an impact on the modern world.
Understand processes of revolution.
- How do different types of revolutions begin, and how do they progress toward resolution?
- Examine social, religious, and economic issues that may lead to revolution.
- Identify and compare how revolutions develop in multiple areas of human life (e.g. scientific, agricultural, industrial, political, medical).
Analyze the impact of selected revolutions.
- What lasting impacts were made by selected revolutions?
- Identify representative people from selected revolutions (e.g. Napoleon, Martin Luther, James Watt, Isaac Newton, Madame Curie, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek).
- Examine the outcomes of selected revolutions (e.g. the Scientific and Industrial revolutions, the Reformation, the French Revolution).
Students will understand current global issues and their rights and responsibilities in the interconnected world.
Analyze how major world events of the 20th century affect the world today.
- How have major world events of the 20th century affected our world today?
- Identify key events, ideas, and leaders of the 20th century (e.g. World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts, dynamic Asian economies).
- Describe the impact of these events on the world today.
Explore current global issues facing the modern world and identify potential solutions.
- What current global issues are we facing in our modern world?
- What are some current issues facing the world today, and what are possible solutions?
- Who should be involved in resolving those issues and why?
- Investigate pressing issues facing the world today (e.g. environmental, pollution, political turmoil, hunger, poverty, genocide, famine, natural disasters, child labor).
- Identify potential solutions to pressing issues.
- Identify individuals and groups making positive changes in the world today and support these choices with evidence.
Determine human rights and responsibilities in the world.
- What rights and responsibilities do we have in our world today?
- What are essential human rights?
- What civic responsibilities do humans have to one another in the modern world?
- Identify rights considered essential for all humans (e.g. health care, education, safety, freedom from fear, freedom of expression).
- Propose steps individual students can take to protect these rights (e.g. support for sister schools, energy and resource conservation, letter writing, career choices, fundraising efforts).
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