Planning better in the new year: day 2

Did you come up with a way to assess your unit? After you know what you plan to assess, now it is time to come up with some enduring understandings! What do you want students to take with them for life? Look hard at the unit and really evaluate it. What do they need to know to communicate in the target language in meaningful ways. This part of backward planning is what made me completely skip the “school supply” and “household chore” chapters! With the limited time I have to increase fluency, I did not see those as enduring understandings!!!

Choose 3-5 things you want your students to take away from your unit and never forget. So take my water unit, for instance…. Students will understand that access to clean water is more valuable than they realized. Students will use the TL to discuss ways that they can impact the lives of those where water is scarce. Students will connect what they know about water scarcity to poverty and illness in affected areas.

Of course we are learning more and more TL but my enduring understanding isn’t that they will be able to conjugate a verb. Maybe they’ll go on to careers in medicine, engineering, or to the mission field. Using the language is far more important to me than knowing about the language!

So today, what are your enduring understandings?

Author: senoracmt

I began teaching Spanish in Illinois in 1994. I have taught levels 1-4 in a small rural high school, 8th grade introductory Spanish, Biology 1, and 101 and 102 at the community college level. My Spanish classes are partnered with the community college to offer students 8 semester hours of dual credit on completion of Spanish 4. In 2011 I met Carol Gaab and Kristy Placido and have since co-authored the book "La hija del sastre" with Carol Gaab and authored the novels "La Calaca Alegre", "Bianca Nieves y los 7 toritos." "Vector," "48 horas" and "Bananas" through Fluency Matters. In 2006 I became National Board certified and I have been serving as a mentor both for candidates seeking certification in world languages other than English and a virtual mentor for candidates in all certificate areas. I completed my Masters degree in Spanish education in 2011 and did my research on the use of Understanding by Design to create meaningful cultural units for the language classroom. I am a frequent presenter on this topic, please consider me if you are interested in a workshop on backward design. In 2013 I was named the ICTFL Foreign Language teacher of the year and in 2014 I was selected as CSCTFL's teacher of the year. In November of 2014 I was lucky enough to be one of the five finalists for the ACTFL National Teacher of the Year in San Antonio, TX. What a "Cinderella" experience! You can reach me via email at senoracmt at

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