Jump to Content or Main Navigation

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Framework and Standards

Many of the Coverdell World Wise Schools standards-based resources are structured according to the framework called Understanding by Design (McTighe and Wiggins). They present "enduring understandings"; and "essential questions,"; which express the basic ideas that a lesson is designed to elicit or teach. Most lessons also are linked to nationally mandated standards.

Enduring Understandings

Enduring Understandings are big ideas with important, enduring value. They are the "core concepts, principles, theories, and processes that should serve as the focal point of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Big ideas are important, enduring, and transferable beyond the scope of a particular unit."; They answer the teacher's question, "What do we want students to understand and be able to use several years from now, after they have forgotten the details?"; (McTighe and Wiggins, 1999, pp. 275, 277). These core ideas are not only confined to what students are currently studying, but are also transferable to new areas of learning and doing. They should be made explicit for students. Examples of enduring understandings:

  • For geography: Where you live influences how you live.
  • For culture: Everyone has a culture. It shapes how we understand ourselves and others.
  • For service: There is such a thing as "the common good.";

Essential Questions

Essential Questions organize and focus learning by asking "… provocative questions designed to engage student interest and guide inquiry into the important ideas in a field of study… Essential questions are intended to stimulate discussion and rethinking over time"; (McTighe and Wiggins, p. 277). Examples of essential questions:

  • For geography: How does where you live influence how you live?
  • For culture: How does culture shape the way we see ourselves and others? What explains why people see the world and behave in fundamentally different ways? Why is it easy to misunderstand people from another culture?
  • For service: What does "the common good"; mean, and why does understanding it matter? Why serve? How far am I willing to go to make a difference?

Content Standards

Content Standards are goal statements that identify "... the knowledge and skills to be learned in content areas. A content standard specifies what we want students to know and be able to do"; (McTighe and Wiggins, p. 275). World Wise Schools resources support the following standards:

  • National Geography Standards, from the National Geographic Standards, published by the National Geographic Society
  • Social Studies Standards, from the National Council for the Social Studies
  • Behavioral Studies Standards, from Mid-Continent Regional Education Laboratory's (McREL) Standards Database, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the International Reading Association
  • Service-Learning Standards, from the National Youth Leadership Council
  • Language Arts Standards, from the Mid-Continent Regional Education Laboratory's (McREL) Standards Database
  • Technology Standards, from the International Society for Technology in Education
  • Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
  • National Science Education Standards, from the National Research Council
  • National Standards for Foreign Language Education, from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages


  • Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins. The Understanding by Design Handbook. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1999.
  • Heidi Hayes Jacobs. Mapping the Big Picture: Integrating Curriculum and Assessment K–12. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1997.

Special thanks to Heidi Hayes Jacobs for her help in charting a course, shaping our curriculum, and providing valuable insights in the development of the World Wise Schools program.