1426 N Quincy St
Arlington, VA 22207
Saturday, June 25, 2016

Professional Development

Teacher and students

Professional Development Office

 About UbD | Unit Peer Review

Understanding by Design

Arlington Public Schools uses the Understanding by Design concepts to focus on teaching for meaning.  An introductory seminar is offered each semester and a 3-credit course is offered each year for APS staff to learn about this framework for planning.

In teaching for meaning, the teacher:


  • Focuses on big ideas by requiring students to use high-level problem solving skills in authentic contexts and creating meaningful and effective assessments
  • Focuses on depth not just breadth
  • Focuses on uncoverage as opposed to coverage
  • Designs and implements instruction that is meaningful to the diverse student population
  • Is better able to manage content through focusing on understanding as opposed to facts
  • Understands the importance of lasting learning

 In teaching for meaning, the student:

  • Makes connections across content and sees connections to the “real world”
  • Is engaged in inquiry and authentic learning
  • Shows increased understanding when given choice in the manner which they demonstrate knowledge
  • Understands the importance of lasting learning

Unit Peer Review

Have you created a UbD unit?
We are now accepting completed Understanding by Design Units for the Peer Review Process.
The purpose of the peer review process is to:
bullet  Provide feedback and guidance on UbD units or staff development you have created for the purpose of improving your design
bullet  Make available for use model UbD units of high quality that promote student understanding and the acquisition of knowledge and skills in the APS Curriculum.
The process:
  • Authors submit units to be reviewed
  • APS Peer Review Committee reviews units 3 times a year
  • Feedback is provided to authors within a month of the review
  • Publishable units are shared with APS staff via a web page
  • Receive feedback on units you have created for the purpose of improving your design
  • Opportunity to share curriculum designs and assessments with colleagues
  • Recognition of authors of published units
  • Recertification points and stipends are under consideration for units deemed ready for publication
Each unit must have the following documentation:
  • Request form for Unit Peer Review (updated May 2004) Word
  • Unit in the APS Backwards Design Template (updated May 2004) Word
  • Completed and included the self evaluation worksheet (includes reflection on the unit after having taught it) (updated May 2004) Word
  • Submitted the unit on 8.5x11 inch paper format (no binders) or electronically to sue.sarber@apsva.us
(The required forms are posted for you to download as Microsoft Word files or PDF files. To download the files click on the link and save the file to your hard drive or right click on the link and select save.)
Contact your Instructional Lead Teacher for assistance with this process.
For more information about Understanding by Design or the Unit Peer review process contact your Instructional Lead Teacher or the Professional Development Office.
Last Modified on October 31, 2011