Tag Archives: planning documents

John Dewey on Instructional Planning

“No experience is educative that does not tend both to knowledge of more facts and entertaining of more ideas and to a better, a more orderly arrangement of them…. Experiences in order to be educative, must lead out into an expanding world of subject matter…. This condition is satisfied only as long as the educator views teaching and learning as a continuous process of reconstruction of experience.”

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

A Writing Prompt from Edmonton, Alberta

[Here’s a writing prompt from the Great White North.]

“Imagine that your Uncle is a Hollywood film producer and has asked for your ideas for a possible new movie. Because many movies are based on books, he has asked you to tell him about a book you’ve read that you think would make a good movie. Write a letter to your uncle and describe a book that you enjoyed and explain why you think it would make a good movie.

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

Jerome Bruner III: On Essential Questions in Biology

“One of the principal organizing concepts in biology is the question, ‘What function does this thing serve?”—a question premised on the assumption that everything one finds in an organism serves some function or it probably would not have survived. Other general ideas are related to this question. The student who makes progress in biology learns to ask the question more and more subtly, to relate more and more things to it.”

Jerome Bruner

The Process of Education

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

Jerome Bruner II: On Avoiding Inundation in Curriculum Design

“Let me suggest one answer [to the problem of going into depth and avoiding excessive coverage] that grew from what we have done. It is the use of the organizing conjecture. They serve two functions, one of them obvious: putting perspective back into the particulars. The second is less obvious and less surprising. The questions often seemed to serve as criteria for determining where [students] were getting and how well they were understanding.”

Jerome Bruner

Beyond the Information Given: Studies in the Psychology of Knowing

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

Jerome Bruner I: On Instructional Design

[In late 2002, as I considered entering the teaching profession, I was running an internet-based used and rare book business–also named Mark’s Text Terminal. It happened that I had several of Jerome Bruner’s books in stock, so I read them all. Encountering the quote below a second time, 16 years later, in my current rereading of Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe’s Understanding by DesignI was reminded of how resonant it was in the context of the way I was educated, and how it appeared to summarize the act of instructional design and delivery. Here it is for your consideration.]

“The curriculum of a subject should be determined by the most fundamental understanding that can be achieved of the underlying principles that give structure to a subject…. Teaching specific topics or skills without making clear their context in the broader fundamental structure of a field of knowledge is uneconomical…. An understanding of fundamental principles and ideas appears to be the main road to adequate transfer of training. To understand something as a specific instances of a more general case–which is what understanding a more fundamental structure means–is to have learned not only a specific thing but also a model for understanding other things like it that one may encounter.”

Jerome Bruner

The Process of Education

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

A Worksheet and Learning Support on Forming the Plurals of Nouns

This combination worksheet and learning support on forming the plurals of nouns is something I’ve very nearly dumped several times. Instead, I reformatted it and cleaned up various design errors. I think it could very easily be converted into a simple learning support by supplying students with the declined plurals.

In fact, there are a number of ways this document could be rearranged for classroom use. I’m confident readers of this blog will figure them out.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.


Ever since William Empson published Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930) this term has had some weight and importance in critical evaluation. In brief, Empson’s theory was that things are not often what they seem, that words connote at least as much as they denote—and very often more.  Empson explained thus: ‘We call it ambiguous…when we recognize that there should be a puzzle as to what the author meant, in that alternative views might be taken without sheer misreading….An ambiguity, in ordinary speech, means something very pronounced, and as a rule witty or deceitful.’ He uses every word in an extended sense and finds relevance in any ‘verbal nuance, however slight, which gives room for alternative reactions to the same piece of language.’ ‘The machinations of ambiguity,’ he says, ‘are among the very roots of poetry.’

He distinguishes seven main types, which may summarized as follows:

  1. When a detail is effective in several ways simultaneously.
  2. When two or more alternative meanings are resolved into one.
  3. When two apparently unconnected meanings are given simultaneously.
  4. When alternative meanings combine to make clear a complicated state of mind in the author.
  5. A kind of confusion when a writer discovers his idea while actually writing. In other words, he has not apparently preconceived the idea but come upon it during the act of creation.
  6. Where something appears to contain a contradiction and the reader has to find interpretations.
  7. A complete contradiction which shows that the author was unclear as to what he was saying.

In varying degrees, Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem The Bugler’s First Communion exemplifies all seven types.”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.