Learn to develop robust learning experiences that prepare students for an ever-changing future.
As educators, we seek to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will help them become productive, responsible members of their communities. But none of us can predict the kind of future that awaits, so how do we create learning experiences that prepare our students for an uncertain future?
Teaching for Understanding is an approach to curriculum design that goes beyond the simple relay of information to help students develop transferable knowledge and skills that they can apply in situations they have never encountered before. In this course, participants will become familiar with the Teaching for Understanding design framework and develop lessons that will foster deeper, more transferable learning in any environment.
New Course Modifications Due to the Pandemic
We have modified course content, the application process, and course completion options in order to support the many different and shifting professional circumstances that educators may experience due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Course Content: Over the last two decades, Project Zero has developed approaches to online professional learning that incorporate core research-based principles about how people learn. Through these online courses, participants have the opportunity to experience for themselves some of the pedagogical strategies and activities that support effective distance learning. In addition, courses have been adapted so that assignments can be carried out by both educators working with learners in face-to-face contexts and those working in virtual/online contexts.
Individual Application Option: Because the courses require teams to meet regularly throughout the course and to complete assignments collaboratively, enrollment in the PZ online courses has historically been open only to teams whose members come from the same school or organization. While preference will continue to be given to teams of colleagues from the same school building or organization, we also now accept applications from:
- teams comprising individuals from the same district or organization but not the same building or working group;
- educators who form teams across districts or organizations; and,
- individuals who have not formed a team. People applying individually, if accepted into the course, will be placed on a “virtual team” that includes two to three other educators who have also applied individually and who come from the same or proximal time zones.
Teams with members in different geographic locations (or teams in areas in which social distancing is the norm) have the option to meet and complete collaborative assignments virtually.
The online course, developed by Project Zero’s Tina Blythe, begins with a one-week orientation, during which you will explore the online platform and get to know fellow members of the learning community. Six two-week content sessions follow, with an average time commitment of about 3-4 hours per week. In each session you will:
- Learn new ideas
- Review and reflect on key ideas from the previous session
- Plan for trying and/or fully implementing course ideas in the classroom
- Work on a project or curriculum unit
- Reflect and share feedback with a coach and peers
Enrollment is by team, which promotes a deeper and richer learning experience and will help you sustain your use of core Project Zero ideas after the course concludes. Team members will collaborate on most of the assignments, including the development of a project. Teams meet face-to-face or virtually once every two weeks, so all team members will need to commit to a regular common meeting time throughout the term.
Although the sessions are structured and coach-facilitated, all the online interactions in the course are asynchronous. You and your team can decide when to work on the course materials as long as you submit the assignment(s) on or before the due dates.
This online course is not linked to a degree program. Academic credit is not available. You will be eligible for a digital certificate representing 45 professional development hours upon successful completion.
View the course outline for additional information on course sessions.
Online Course Schedule
Please review the course schedule to ensure that you and your team will be able to participate fully in the course, taking into account your local holidays and vacations. The average time commitment is about three to four hours per week.
September 2020 Term Schedule
Session 1: Monday, September 21
Session 2: Monday, September 28
Session 3: Monday, October 12
Session 4: Monday, October 26
Session 5: Monday, November 9
Session 6: Monday, November 23
Session 7: Monday, December 7
Course closes: Sunday, December 20
- Explore the nature of understanding and why it should be a central goal of contemporary education
- Consider what we should teach to foster understanding and how to prioritize the content that is most important for students to understand
- Learn to design learning experiences that foster true understanding
- Participate in a reflective online professional community that supports your own understanding of how to teach for understanding
Who Should Participate
This course requires enrollment by teams of 3-6 people. Those who register individually will be placed on a virtual team with two or three other educators (all in the same or proximal time zones) who have also registered individually. Team members must be able to try out course ideas with students/learners in classrooms, either virtually or face-to-face, or other direct learning environments with students. Depending on pandemic circumstances and/or team composition, while the learning design encourages teams to meet locally, in person, once every two weeks to engage in group-based activities, these team meetings can occur virtually. Teams can be comprised of:
- Classroom teachers of all grade levels and disciplines
- Administrators who have responsibility for supporting curriculum, instruction, and assessment
- Educators working in out-of-school settings that focus on learning, such as museums, afterschool programs, youth organizations, and outdoor education programs
If possible, we recommend team members have similar roles and work in the same school or district. We also recommend that teams have at least one group of students with whom they can try out tools throughout the course.