Introduction to Throughlines
Overarching goals, or throughlines, describe the most important understandings that students should develop during an entire course. The understanding goals for particular units should be closely related to one or more of the overarching understanding goals of the course.
At the beginning of the semester you might write down the most important things you want your students to get out of your classbut plan to revisit and revise the list during the year. Once you have carried out several units, look for related goals or throughlines that appear more than once.
As with unit-long understanding goals, it often takes several rounds of revision to develop a good list of throughlines. However, unlike unit understanding goals, throughlines need to capture the essence of a whole course.
Throughlines often are rooted in deeply held but rarely articulated beliefs and values about both the subject matter and the teaching and learning processes. Therefore they often take longer to develop and refine that unit-long understanding goals - sometimes even several years.
Examples of Throughlines
In developing your overarching understanding goals, ask yourself, "When my students leave my class at the end of the course, what are the most important things I want them to take away with them?" Answering this question can be difficult. Often the goals that we consider most important are so deeply embedded in our thinking and teaching that we have a hard time articulating them. So if it seems that you have developed a list of overarching understanding goals that doesn't quite capture what you think is most essential, try some of the steps below:
Questions for Refining Throughlines
Overarching goals or throughlines:
© Tina Blythe and Associates, (1998). The Teaching for Understanding Guide. Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco.
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