#OLW14 Meets #SOL14

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.


My One Little Word (#OLW14) for this year is



Our focus for curriculum development for all content areas is Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design (UbD).  UbD is one of three models typically used in Iowa.  Since June, we have worked with four different groups of ELA teachers and administrators to begin development of “units” through the UbD planning process.  We have also worked with two content area groups on how to use the ELA Standards for all content areas as required by the Iowa Core Standards.   Jay McTighe will be in Iowa next week for the fall ASCD conference to work with educators on unit design to improve understanding.  What a great opportunity to increase our own understanding of UbD.


In the UbD model, what is transfer?

Grant Wiggins says it is the “Point of Education” as teachers plan, teach and assess for transfer including long-term goals.  In a post that includes that phrase, Wiggins defines transfer as:

“[Transfer is] the ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts. Educators hope that students will transfer learning from one problem to another within a course, from one year in school to another, between school and home, and from school to workplace. Assumptions about transfer accompany the belief that it is better to broadly “educate” people than simply “train” them to perform particular tasks.”  (“Transfer as the Point of Education”)


Does transfer happen automatically?

As a teacher have you ever taught something, given students time to practice, used a formative assessment, but still had students fail the summative task?  I think that the typical ubiquitous spelling list often led this category for many students.  Transfer can only happen when there is reflection, analysis, and generalization from the lessons learned as “rote memory tasks” do not typically “transfer” learning.


So are hands-on projects conducive to “transfer” of learning for students?

Wiggins says,  “The typical hands-on project – done for all the right reasons – does not assess for transfer if the student 1) gets help all along the way in completing the project, 2) the work is highly contextualized, and 3) little demand is typically made whereby the student must draw general and transferable lessons from the doing of this and other projects.”  The thought that projects are often not about transfer can also be a reason to stop and think about the purpose of the performance task that is being used.  Is it a new, real, and relevant situation?  (“Transfer as the Point of Education”)


What does transfer look like?

In this UbD video, Wiggins talks about soccer and education.  “The goal is not to see if they got what you taught; the goal is to see if they can use it when you are gone.  The goal is NOT to be better at school.”  Specific information about Transfer Goals can be found in this video by Jay McTighe.  Additional articles and blog posts include:

Long-term Transfer Goals

From Common Core to Curriculum: Five Big Ideas

TCRWP featured speaker Grant Wiggins


So how does transfer fit into my life as a Reading Specialist? What are my expectations?

Considering Transfer and Professional Development. . . .

I will model a lesson / strategy / practice and then:

  • Teachers will practice and use modeled lesson in PD..
  • Teachers will use lesson  in classrooms.
  • Teachers will independently use lesson in other content areas/situations in their lives!

Considering Transfer and Students . . . .  

Teachers will model a lesson / strategy / practice and then:

  • Students will practice and use the lesson in class.
  • Students will use the lesson in other classrooms where not taught.
  • Students will apply the learning on their own, in any situation, without help!


Possibilities for transfer  . . .

There are many paths for instruction,  further work with UbD and even this post by Anna Gratz Cockerille,  “Using assessment tools  to teach transference”.  with my “One Little Word” I am looking for transfer every day.

What is your understanding of “transfer”?  Do you see teachers or students “transferring” their learning?




10 responses

  1. My Goal, as a consultant, is to see that teachers are transferring when I teach them into their classrooms. I have set up a program with a new school where I will go out to train teachers and conferring and then follow up one month later to find out how it’s going. Hopefully, we will do a video study or two so that other teachers can see how their colleagues have applied what they have learned in the PD sessions with me to their classroom practices.

    1. Thanks, Stacey! I love the idea of a video study. There’s a delicate balance between leaning, conferring, follow up and the whole “evidence” of learning because “what you thought you heard me say” and “what you saw modeled” may look and sound differently when you work with students!

      Transfer is the whole world in my work life!

  2. I feel that for transfer to happen there must be some meaning associated with it. Without this I believe that what is learned in one moment is forgotten in the next.

    1. I agree, meaningful tasks/actions are so important for transfer. I don’t think it is intentional. Each moment is just so fleeting that they are easily forgotten without that meaning! Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

  3. Transfer is the whole world in our work too! We think and talk about transfer all the time. In the gradual release of responsibility we need to be look for and assessing transfer. We think time, reflection, feedback and revision are essential to transfer.
    Thank you for the great resources!

    1. Clare,
      The resources are just a part of trying to keep up with the name of the blog!!! 😉

      I like the idea of revision as an essential characteristic for transfer. Revision is so critical in planning, thinking AND writing!

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Fran,
    What a fantastic OLW. It fits you perfectly. Using a skill taught in another context or class seems to be an area we don’t always consider or are able to notice. In light of the common core literacy goals across the curriculum, I am seeing a bit more of of it. I also wonder about how transfer takes time and is additive.

    Thank you for all the links. I have to take time to process it all !

    1. Thanks, Julieanne!
      Transfer definitely takes time and I also believe that it is additive. There’s probably a “mindset” as well that is attached to taking a risk to build connections for transferring learning!
      See you in two weeks +!

  5. I think about transfer in regards to classroom work. As a teacher, I have really started to converse with my super colleagues about how do we engage students in their work throughout the day? How can we teach a mini lesson and have this transfer into independent learning? Can we transfer enough in the early grades so they can be more autonomous in their work? Can they choose their direction more during the day? This is a great OLW! I’ll be considering this post as we continue to talk as colleagues.

    1. Kendra,
      I love your thinking about transfer across grade levels. I believe that transfer will be easier for students as more consistency is developed in language and expectations for instructional progressions in all content areas!

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