“UbD” is NBD when you have QUAVER!

by Abby @ Quaver on May 19, 2016

in At Quaver HQ

Mary Haskins from Reinberg Elementary in Chicago, IL is back on the Quaver Music Blog! Today she is sharing how Quaver helped her adapt to a new teaching movement called Understanding by Design (UbD).  

Take it away, Mary!



If you already have Quaver’s Beyond Marvelous General Music Curriculum, you know what a time-saver it is when it comes to lesson planning. National and Core Arts Standards alignment? Check! Selecting learning objectives? Check! But what happens when your school or district asks all teachers to dig deeper into their standards and shift focus to vertical alignment of skills? [insert panicked music teacher here]

Understanding by Design (UbD) is a new teaching movement that is sweeping into schools. This unit-based practice uses several interrelated components that force teachers to reflect on what impact the unit will have on students now, and into their future education. Thankfully, as music educators, we already do this! But how do we take all of our reasoning and document it for administration?

To better understand what UbD is, here are my musical “Cliff Notes:”

  • Transfer Goals are what students will be able to use their learning to do in the future
  • Enduring Understandings are what the students will understand from the unit, which works parallel with….
  • Essential Questions which are what the students will keep considering throughout the unit
  • Knowledge & Skills is another category that is a little bit easier to work with. This is the stuff we are doing within every lesson; what we want them to know is generally the objectives, and the skills are what we will instill in them to get there!

After 4 hours of professional development, I started to understand UbD, but as with many PD’s I asked myself “How is this relative to me? How can I align this to my standards when these examples are about reading and math?”

Overwhelmed, I headed over to my Quaver Curriculum Board, clicked on the “Kindergarten” heading, then “Curriculum Features & Best Practices,” selected “Standards,” and something truly marvelous happened. I saw words like “Enduring Understandings” and “Essential Questions” and my face lit up with joy!

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I walked down to our UbD liaison, who had patiently trained the arts department, and showed her a printout of the exact standards sheet I found. “Wow, you’re so lucky!” she said, with a bit of envy in her voice.

Quaver never fails to amaze me with the resources they provide! Curriculum Features & Best Practices offers a lot more than just Standards. In Best Practices you can find a glossary of music terms in other languages – perfect for English Language Learners – and tips on strengthening the Teacher Student Bond.

I know the word “free time” isn’t usually something we use very much these days, but I hope these few tips can further your understanding of UbD and encourage you to explore all of the things we have available to us through Quaver’s Curriculum!


How to find Standards in Curriculum Features & Best Practices:

  1. Visit QuaverMusic.com and Log In to your Teacher Account
  2. Click the Teacher Tab
  3. Click the Curriculum icon, located on the flagpole
  4. Select a grade
  5. Click the Curriculum Features & Best Practices button, located in the upper left-hand corner
  6. Under Curriculum Features, choose Standards
  7. And Boom-Chicka-Boom…Core Music Standards are ready to view and print for your supervisor!

Have you had any experience with Understanding by Design? How has Quaver helped you meet your school or district requirements?

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