Peer Assessment for Treasures of the Monterey Bay

Treasures of the Monterey Bay is the curriculum design project created by Brenda Lewis for ED 665. The following peer assessment is based on the work of Wiggins and McTighe.


This is a very worthwhile project and the central activity of the project around which all of the other activities pivot is the trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Students will love that, but the challenge is tying it back to real learning. The project consultants (fourth graders—all teachers should use such consultants!) noted that their trip to the aquarium in another class was fun, but that it didn't seem to be tied together to help them learn. This project does provide much more focus although the activities listed don't necessarily fulfill the full promise of the project.

With the current learning experiences, it isn't obvious how the learning experiences would aid the targeted understandings.  As an example, the six facets of understanding cover big ideas (e.g., "...understand that life under the waters of the Bay contributes to the well-being of the life on the land around it"), but those big ideas are not directly addressed in the learning experiences or other materials. It's not obvious how drawing and coloring the marine animal leads to that big idea or how creating a report, even in a teams, aids understanding that connection.

"Reflect and rethink" has open discussion and collaboration given as part of the lesson. Collaboration is seen with the students working in groups, as shown by the treasure map. Open discussion can be inferred from the students giving their reports but it would help an inexperienced teacher more if it were directly addressed in the activities. The treasure map sheet does give activities, but it doesn't have revision and feedback built into it.

Giving more learning activities at the bottom of the design page that tie back to big ideas would make the connections more obvious. For example, the students could revise their reports based on feedback from the teacher and other students. When drawing a picture, they might have a focus on how the animals move or the different ways the animals move, hypothesize why that method is suitable for the habitat, then verify their hypothesis. In their reports, it would help if there were activity that would pull together the concept of different habitats in the bay. One possibility might be that each picture the students draw could be placed at the correct "depth" on a wall with the ceiling being the surface of the water.

This project has plenty of promise and minor revision would help it fulfill that promise.

Identify Desired Results

To what extent are the targeted understandings

  • Big ideas (as opposed to basic facts and skills) in need of uncoverage? extensively

  • Specific enough to guide teaching and assessing? somewhat

  • Framed by provocative essential and unit questions? somewhat

Determine Acceptable Evidence

To what extent does the assessment evidence provide

  • A valid and reliable measure of the targeted understandings? somewhat

  • Sufficient info to support inferences about each student's understanding? somewhat

  • Opportunities for students to exhibit their understandings through authentic performance tasks? somewhat

Plan Learning Experiences and Instruction

To what extent will

  • Students know where their going and why (in terms of unit goals, performance requirements, and evaluative criteria)? somewhat

  • Students be engaged in digging into the big ideas of the unit (through inquiry, research, problem-solving, and experimentation)? somewhat

  • Students receive explicit instruction on the knowledge and skills needed to equip them for the required performance? somewhat

  • Students have opportunities to rehearse, revise, and refine their work based on feedback? somewhat

  • Students self-assess and set goals prior to the conclusion of the unit? somewhat


Criteria from Understanding by Design, Wiggins, Grant and J. McTighe, 1998, p. 187
Alexandria, Virginia, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Last maintained 08/23/2003


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