Significant Learning Plan

In my previous post, I approached my cloud-based unit of instruction based on L. Dee Fink’s 3-column table. I began by setting a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”, which summed up what I wanted my students to be able to do as a result of the unit. This overarching goal allowed me to plan with the end in mind, while focusing on six categorical learning goals. I created activities and assessments that indicated my students’ understanding of the unit, using each of these six categories as basis for instruction.

In this post, I approach the same unit using the UbD model of instruction. Like the 3-column table, UbD is based on a backward design; that is, the ultimate goal of the unit provides a starting point for determining the steps and lessons necessary for achieving it. But a significant difference between the two is in the process of teaching the unit. While the 3-column table consistently places the focus of learning on the ultimate goal, the UbD model calls for breaking the unit into smaller goals which ultimately work together to get the job done. This is the version that I prefer to use when designing my lessons.

My UbD breaks my cloud-based unit into three sub-units, each of which focuses on a feature of Office 365, and the students’ recalling of previously learned features of Microsoft Office.  I appreciate the UbD model as a planning tool because it calls for attention to detail and focus on more specific goals and objectives than Fink’s model. In my experience, there is much to be gained by approaching larger tasks through a series of smaller ones. Not only does it allow for more realistic and precise goals, but it provides for a more constructive process as students build on previous learning to discover new skills, all working toward the same big goal.

Stage 1 – Desired Results
Established Goals


Learners will analyze the functional uses of Office 365 as a means for organizing, creating, communicating and collaborating in the learning environment.


Learners will apply previously learned skills using Word to create a Word document in OneDrive.


Learners will create a table and format a document for the purpose of organizing data in a research activity.


Learners will consider the technology available in their classroom learning environments and outside the computer lab.


Students will discuss and demonstrate the benefits of using cloud-based documents in a classroom-based research project.


Learners will use the cloud to discuss in small groups the ways in which cloud-based computing could benefit them in a career-based environment.


Students will work collaboratively to create a presentation about an assigned topic.

Students will be able to independently use their learning to…


T1 – Use OneDrive to create and share Word documents and Powerpoint presentations.

T2 – Use OneDrive to collaborate with others online.

T3 – Use various online resources to gather and share information effectively.



Students will understand that…


U1 – OneDrive can be used as a creative, organizational and collaborative tool.

U2 – Formatting a document can make it more effective



Students will keep considering…


Q1 – Who is my audience?

Q2 – What is my purpose?

Q3 – What tools should I use?

Students will recall/know…


K1 – They can access OneDrive files from any Internet accessible device

K2 – They can create the same Office documents online as they can on their classroom computers.

K3 – How to be responsible digital citizens

Students will be skilled at…


S1 – Accessing OneDrive files

S2 – Sharing OneDrive files

S3 – Creating works collaboratively

S4 – Formatting documents to make them more effective.

S5 – Choosing the tools needed to most effectively complete a task

S6 – Demonstrate digital citizenship.



Stage 2 – Evidence
Code Evaluative Criteria
All transfer goals




All Meaning Goals











Students will show that they really understand by evidence of…


Students will transfer their learning into real-world applications of Word and PowerPoint. For example,

1.       Task: Students will upload a previously made Word file into OneDrive and edit it in Word online.

2.       Task: Students will create a PowerPoint presentation and share it with teachers/students.

3.       Task: Students will use a new online Word document to organize research information.

All Meaning Goals


All Skill and Transfer goals







Digital Ethics


Students will show they have achieved Stage 1 goals by…

1.       Identifying their audience and explaining choices in formatting and design in their work

2.       Identifying Word and PowerPoint formatting tools

3.       Show evidence of discrete skills and overall fluency in using OneDrive

4.       Demonstrate digital responsibility and ethics when collaborating online.



Stage 3 – Learning Plan
Code Pre-assessment based on previously made documents and classroom experiences.






































Learning Events


Student success at transfer, meaning and acquisition depends on previous knowledge of Microsoft Word and formatting tools. Instruction will take place and be assessed through a system of increased independence in three sub-units.


Sub-unit 1

o  Log into Office 365.

o  Access OneDrive and upload a previously made file (Word document).

o  Edit the uploaded document demonstrating use of formatting tools.

o  Discuss (compare and contrast) online and offline versions of Word.

Sub-unit 2

o  Create a new Word document in O365.

o  Use formatting tools to insert a 2×5 table.

o  Label columns appropriately for research.

o  Record researched information in the table.

o  Share the document with teacher and partner. Partners edit one another’s documents.

Sub-unit 3

o  Create a new PowerPoint presentation in O365.

o  Use a total of five slides to share the information gathered in research.

o  Add images and design the presentation appropriately for the topic and audience.


Examples of design themes will be modeled and discussed, with emphasis on the significance of font, color and image choice.


Learning the beginner (and intermediate) tools of Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Examples of successfully completed work are provided. Instruction on manipulation of design elements are used.


Skill development and real-world practice in:

Keyboarding Collaborating Communicating
Writing Design Digital Ethics
Internet Research Troubleshooting
Uploading/Downloading Organization
Creating Editing Formatting
Progress Monitoring


·       Formative assessment and informal feedback by instructor as students share their work.

·       Look for common problems, including:

o   Failure to name documents appropriately

o   Failure to share documents

o   Lack of contribution to collaborative work

o   Improper sentence structure/spelling

o   Inconsistencies in formatting/design

o   Improper use of digital tools

o   Issues of online respect, online safety and/or responsibility.




The unit planned in the UbD above contributes significantly to the success of my innovation plan. Employing cloud-based learning strategies prepares my students for a blended learning environment in their classrooms. But perhaps just as important is the fact that their teachers are becoming familiar with how the tools can be used effectively. The students’ successful sharing of documents with their teachers almost forces them to consider the benefits of sharing documents online. It also promotes their ethical and responsible use of the Internet as they collaborate with one another.

Including my UbD in the cloud and sharing it with my colleagues gives them ideas for how they can incorporate what the students are learning in technology through their own classroom lessons. In some sense, my UbD offers examples for blended learning that all of my co-workers can benefit from.

Fink, L.D. (2003). A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. Retrieved from Designing Significant Learning Experiences: Materials in Print website:…


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