Designing Learning

Designing Engaging and Rigorous Learning Experiences

Designing Engaging and Rigorous Learning Experiences

This guide-book from Toddle will walk you through the process of examining your learning experiences and provoke you with questions to redesign them with a goal to promote higher-order thinking. Discover frameworks and examples to understand how you can integrate technology, focus on higher-order thinking skills, and support student agency, to make your learning experiences truly come alive!

Use This Resource To:

  • Explore frameworks that will help you shift from surface learning to higher-order thinking

  • Unpack examples of learning experiences to get a glimpse of these frameworks in action

  • Create learning experiences that promote creativity and student agency

Designing Engaging and Rigorous Learning Experiences.pdf
Source: Toddle Website
Toddle is a collaboration platform for IB PYP and MYP teachers, designed by IB teachers. Toddle seamlessly integrates curriculum planning, evidence collection, student portfolios, reporting, and parent communication - all from one beautiful interface - and helps teachers focus on the important things. Toddle is ideal for schools looking to streamline their entire planning and evaluation process or for schools looking for a one-stop technology solution for the PYP - both for in-school and online learning.
Contact their support team at to learn more about pricing and what might suit your school best.

Foundations of Understanding

Source: Toddle Website
Foundations of Understanding by Design with Jay McTighe is a series of four workshops presented by Toddle. In these sessions, Jay elaborates on the various stages, key elements, and processes of the UbD framework, along with providing accessible tips and handy resources for educators to make the best of the planning process.
**Note: You may be asked to fill in a short form - For your school / organization you can use "Inspiring Inquiry".

Rules of Great Teaching

15 Rules of Great Teaching.pdf

Reasons Why Failure is Important

10 reasons Why Failure is Important.pdf

Reminder: Children Still Love Learning

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Something I've been reminded of over and over again the last few weeks as I talk with my own children, and educators around the country working in K-12 classrooms: Children still love learning. They don't always like school, and therein lies the paradox, as school is supposed to be a place where we learn.

As I was wrestling with these two thoughts, Tim Smyth posted this on his @historycomics Instagram page:

What's so fascinating about this sentiment is that we all KNOW this intrinsically. I wonder what would happen if we stopped asking the question at school: Will this activity/lesson/assessment/content PREPARE children for ________?

And, if instead, we asked the question: Will this activity/lesson/assessment/content keep children loving learning?

We Know a Few Things to be True:

  1. Standardized assessments do NOT predict student success.

  2. Many decisions around curriculum and what/how we are teaching are tied to success on those assessments (ex: Common Core standards correlation to state tests, AP curriculum connected to AP assessments, etc)

  3. Student engagement drops steadily (and their view of having fun and doing interesting things in school) each year they are at school.

  4. Many teachers are forced into a tough spot between doing what they know works in learning (giving choice, inquiry, designing for creativity, project-based learning) and doing what they believe they have to do in order to "cover" the curriculum, meet standards, and prepare kids for tests.

In short, most of what we are doing in an "assessment-centric" education system is not working, has been proven to have no correlation to student success, leads to disengaged students, and teacher burnout.

But, our system remains unchanged in many places. And, the burden falls on school administrators, teachers, and support staff to try and make learning meaningful and relevant under these circumstances.

Here's the real kicker: In the midst of it all, children are still here in our schools every single day. They are with us in school for over 14,000 hours between Kindergarten and 12th Grade.

And, they still love learning, when the learning is meaningful.

There are too many people that want school to stay the same, even as many of us educators are shouting from the rooftops that things have to change.

Not for us (although that would be nice), but really for the children. Isn't that why we are doing this work in the first place?!?

There is so much we don't have control of or influence over. But, if you get the chance to make a decision for the children in your school or classroom, I hope we can ask the question: Will this activity/lesson/assessment/content keep children loving learning? And design based on that answer.

“Pedagogy has to embrace a sense of what kind of culture are we creating.”

Guy Claxton, 2021

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework developed by CAST. UDL guides the design of learning experiences to proactively meet the needs of all learners. When you use UDL, you assume that barriers to learning are in the design of the environment, not in the student. UDL is based on brain science and evidence-based educational practices. It also leverages the power of digital technology.

UDL describes human variability based on parts of the brain that manage the “why” (affective network), the “what” (recognition network), and the “how” (strategic network) of learning.

CAST developed UDL guidelines that are based on three main principles that align with these learning networks. The three UDL principles are engagement, representation, and action and expression.

The chart below includes the three UDL principles adapted from CAST. It also gives you some questions to consider and lists some examples of the principles in action.

Source: Understood Website

UDL Guidelines

UDL Graphic Organizer v2-2.pdf
Source: CAST Website

Getting Started with UDL

Getting Started With Universal Design for Learning.pdf

Better World Project - Unit

Run Time: 6:54 - June 25, 2018
This video features an inspiring Better World Project accomplished by the Interdistrict School for Arts and Communication (ISAAC) in New London, CT, an EL Education school. It was one of 18 winning Better World Projects selected by a committee of EL Education students, teachers, and leaders, from submissions across the country.
EL Schools are not IB schools, but this project is an example of what an IB UOI could look like - truly transdisciplinary, inquiry & concept based with student voice and choice and connect to being internationally minded - what is means to be human.
** View More EL Better World Projects

Designing Learning Articles/Videos

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  • Making Self-Paced Learning Work for Younger Kids | Video | Edutopia | Nov 18, 2021 | This differentiation approach frees teachers up to meet students’ needs. The result? Students only tackle material they’re ready for, and all students achieve mastery.

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