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Harvard Graduate School of Education

Teaching for Understanding: Educating for the Unknown (TfU)

Sep 16—Dec 15
USD 525

How it works


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Learn to develop robust learning experiences that prepare students for an ever-changing future.


As educators, we seek to equip students with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will help them become productive, responsible members of their communities. But none of us can predict the kind of future that awaits, so how do we create learning experiences that prepare our students for an uncertain future?

Teaching for Understanding is an approach to curriculum design that goes beyond the simple relay of information to help students develop transferable knowledge and skills that they can apply in situations they have never encountered before. In this course, participants will become familiar with the Teaching for Understanding design framework and develop lessons that will foster deeper, more transferable learning in any environment.

Course Details

The online course, developed by by Project Zero’s Tina Blythe, begins with a one-week orientation, during which you will explore the online platform and get to know fellow members of the learning community. Six two-week content sessions follow, with an average time commitment of about 3-4 hours per week. In each session you will:

  • Learn new ideas
  • Review and reflect on key ideas from the previous session
  • Plan for trying and/or fully implementing course ideas in the classroom
  • Work on a project or curriculum unit
  • Reflect and share feedback with a coach and peers
  • Enrollment is by team, which promotes a deeper and richer learning experience and will help you sustain your use of core ideas after the course concludes. Team members will collaborate on most of the assignments, including the development of a project. Teams meet face-to-face every two weeks.

Although the sessions are structured and coach-facilitated, all the online interactions in the course are asynchronous. You and your team can decide when to work on the course materials as long as you submit the assignment(s) on or before the due dates.

This online course is not linked to a degree program. Academic credit is not available. You will be eligible for a digital certificate representing 45 professional development hours upon successful completion.


  • Explore the nature of understanding and why it should be a central goal of contemporary education
  • Consider what we should teach to foster understanding and how to prioritize the content that is most important for students to understand
  • Learn to design learning experiences that foster true understanding
  • Participate in a reflective online professional community that supports your own understanding of how to teach for understanding

Who should attend

This course requires enrollment by teams of 3-6 people. Teams need to be able to meet locally, in person, at least once every two weeks. Teams can be comprised of:

  • Classroom teachers of all grade levels and disciplines
  • Administrators who have responsibility for supporting curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Educators working in out-of-school settings that focus on learning, such as museums, afterschool programs, youth organizations, and outdoor education programs


Daniel Wilson is the Director of Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE), where he is also a Principal Investigator, a Lecturer at the HGSE, Faculty on the Doctorate for Educational Leadership at HGSE, and the Educational Chair at Harvard’s “Learning Environments for Tomor...

Next dates

Sep 16—Dec 15
USD 525

How it works

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