What Is the Teaching For Understanding Framework”?


What is understanding?

“The performance view of understanding is consonant with both common sense and a number of sources in contemporary cognitive science. The performance perspective says, in brief, that understanding is a matter of being able to do a variety of thought-provoking things with a topic, such as explaining, finding evidence and examples, generalizing, applying, analogizing, and representing the topic in new ways.”


From The Teaching for Understanding Guide by Tina Blythe and Associates (Jossey-Bass, 1999)


The Teaching for Understanding framework

  1. Throughlines, or Overarching Understanding Goals (extend through the entire course—focus learners on BIG understandings)
  2. Generative Topic (the content we focus on in our unit; what it is about the topic that motivates us to learn more)
  3. Understanding Goals (extend through a unit; connect to Throughlines and stem from the Generative Topic)
  4. Performances of Understanding (learners demonstrate their understanding of the topic at various points in a unit)
  5. Ongoing Assessment (learners assess themselves and one another, and receive frequent formative feedback from the teacher)


Teaching for Understanding: An introduction to the framework (mini course powerpoint) 

Teaching for Understanding Project Organizer


Reese, James. “Teaching for Understanding 1: An Introduction to the Framework” Project Zero Summer Institute 2013. Harvard Graduate School of Education. . 22 July. 2013. Lecture.


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