Event Details

How can we ensure that our learners are engaged in learning that is meaningful to them (both now and in the future) and that lasts beyond the test? Learn about the Teaching for Understanding framework, developed through collaborative research with educators, and apply it to create a curriculum unit, lesson, or learning experience that you can use in your context to engage your students in meaningful, lasting, and life-worthy learning.

The future for which we are preparing our students is filled with challenges and complexity: What kind of learning experiences will prepare them to meet those challenges thoughtfully and effectively?

Teaching for Understanding is an approach to designing curriculum, instruction, and assessment that goes beyond the simple acquisition of information to help students develop transferable knowledge and skills that they can apply in situations and contexts they have never encountered before. This powerful framework, developed through collaborative research with practitioners, offers a guide for answering the key questions we all ask as we plan lessons and units of instruction:

  • What is most important for my students to understand?
  • What kinds of learning experiences will best help them develop and use that understanding flexibly and thoughtfully?
  • will I (and my students) know how well and how much they have understood?

Used around the world and across grade levels and subject areas for nearly 30 years, the Teaching for Understanding framework offers a time-tested way to insure learners consistently engage in active, thought-demanding [or “thinking rich”?] classroom experiences that generate deep, lasting, and useful learning.

In this course, you will:

  • explore the differences between “knowing” and “understanding”
  • learn the components of the Teaching for Understanding framework and how to adapt and apply them effectively in your own work as an educator
  • consider the challenges and obstacles to teaching and learning for understanding and how to respond to them
  • develop (or revise) a curriculum unit, project, or learning activity that will support your students in developing meaningful and lasting understanding, generating learning that is truly life-worthy!

What past participants are saying:

“I used to think that my students just understood what I was teaching because I worked so hard to create engaging and meaningful lessons and be a good teacher. Now I think there is more to understanding than being able to get a good grade on the assessment. I realize how important it is for the teacher to create clear goals for understanding that are shared with students so they develop an understanding of how to apply the knowledge and skills when needed in life.”

7th Grade Public School Teacher, United States

“I used to think that asking all teachers to plan in the exact same way limited their effectiveness in the classroom. Now I wonder if it isn't the standardization that's the problem but what you're choosing to standardize. Approaches to teaching like what we've learned in the TfU course seem like they'd be universally useful as a framework for designing units and courses that truly foster understanding while still leaving things open enough for each teacher to retain pedagogical individuality.”

6th - 12th Grade IB Teacher, Colombia

“I used to think that as a teacher it was my job to control the class and the learning that takes place. However, I now think it is imperative that students have a say in their learning and what interests and motivates them. I also used to think that assessments are totally teacher-created and for my use, but now I see that it is so important to have students not only assess themselves but their peers as well. Learning to self-assess and provide feedback to their peers allows students to take ownership of their learning while assisting their peers and deepening understanding.”

Kindergarten - 5th Grade Public School Teacher, United States


Course Designer

Tina Blythe has been a researcher at Project Zero for nearly 30 years. She is part of Project Zero’s online learning leadership team and is the education chair of the Project Zero Classroom summer institute. She is also a Lecturer on Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Central to her research and teaching are how to create and sustain learning environments that support understanding. Collaborative inquiry and the collaborative assessment of student and teacher work are key focuses of her work. She began her career as a middle and high school teacher, and she leads workshops and provides consultation for organizations and schools around the world. She is the author and co-author of a number of books and articles include Looking Together at Student Work, 3rd Ed. (Blythe, Allen, & Powell; Teachers College, 2015); Facilitating for Learning (Allen & Blythe; Teachers College, 2015); and The Facilitator's Book of Questions (Allen & Blythe; Teachers College, 2004). She is the lead author of The Teaching for Understanding Guide (Jossey-Bass, 1998), which has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Swedish, and Georgian.

Course Instructors

María Ximena Barrera has been working with Project Zero ideas for the last 20 years, especially in project development to improve teaching and learning processes with educators in Latin America and Spain. She has participated in several educational seminars offering workshops and talks focused on Teaching for Understanding, Multiple Intelligences, and the use of protocols and Thinking Routines. For four years she worked throughout Colombia with teachers from the public sector on a project called Teaching for Understanding for the Construction of Citizenship. Since 2001 she has worked with WIDE World as an instructor for the different courses taught in Spanish (Teaching for Understanding and Leading for Understanding). Currently María Ximena is involved in the field of early childhood, first by implementing the Visible Thinking strategies at the Rethink and ReUse Center in Miami, she is also an Adjunct Professor at Florida International University. She is an active member of FUNDACIES and Vision Action, non-profit organizations dedicated to educational research and professional development for educators where she is the Director of Program Development. She holds a Master’s degree in education and curriculum design from Javeriana University in Bogotá, Colombia.

Patricia León Agustí has been a close collaborator with PZ since 1996. For 11 years she was Director of the Rochester School in Bogotá, Colombia, and founded the Colegio San Francisco de Asís, a PreK-12 school for poor children. The two schools, opposite in their economic circumstances, each benefitted from her work with PZ as she developed each school’s curriculum based on the Teaching for Understanding Framework. During 1998–1999 she was a visiting scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Patricia worked with WIDE World Spanish online courses since the beginning as a coach and as instructor and also worked in schools offering professional development to teachers in different Latin American countries and in Spain. She led a reform movement in Colombia centered on Teaching for Understanding and for four years worked throughout Colombia with teachers from the public sector on a project called Teaching for Understanding for the Construction of Citizenship. She is the Executive Director of FUNDACIES and Vision Action, non-profit organizations dedicated to educational research and professional development for educators. She holds a Master’s degree in educational research and human development from CINDE and the Universidad Pedagógica, in Bogotá.

Online Course Schedule

All registered participants will receive email invitations to access the course site 4-5 days prior to the course start date. If you joined the course as an individual and not a member of an already-formed team, you will be placed on a virtual team and sent a separate email introducing you to your virtual team members 4-5 days prior to the course start date.

All sessions open on Mondays and close on Sundays. Much of the work is asynchronous and there are no course “times,” other than the once-per-session team meetings; participants decide when to work on the course material, and when to schedule their team meetings, based on the assignment due dates that occur toward the end of each week.

Please review the course schedule to ensure that you and your team will be able to participate fully in the course, taking into account your local holidays and vacations. Teams can plan ahead for scheduled holidays and vacations and need to coordinate those plans with their coach.

February 2024 Term Schedule

Sessions open on Mondays and close on Sundays, but you do not have to work on Mondays; within each session, you work on your own time.
  • Session 1 (Orientation): Opens Monday, February 19
  • Session 2: Opens Monday, February 26
  • Session 3: Opens Monday, March 11
  • Session 4: Opens Monday, March 25
  • Session 5: Opens Monday, April 8
  • Session 6: Opens Monday, April 22
  • Session 7: Opens Monday, May 6
  • Course closes: Sunday, May 19

Required Course Textbook

The following textbook is required for participants in this course and is not included in the course tuition. The textbook is available for purchase on Amazon or through the publisher Wiley — in both paper and digital format.

  • Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World by David N. Perkins (Jossey-Bass, 2014)

Tuition, Discounts, and Scholarships


  • For In-Depth Courses (6 sessions, 13 weeks), tuition is $615 per person registering as a member of a team, and $695 per person registering as an individual who will be placed (by Project Zero) on a virtual team.

Tuition note: Teams consist of 3-6 educators. Two educators from the same school/organization wishing to learn together should register as individuals and email pzlearn@gse.harvard.edu to request placement on the same team.


Scholarships are available for educators from qualifying organizations. For online courses (in-depth and mini courses) offered from September 2022 through June 2023, scholarships will cover approximately 70% of the tuition. Eligibility guidelines and the application link are below. Scholarship applications must be submitted and accepted prior to registration for the course. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please do NOT register for the online course until you have completed the scholarship application and have been approved for scholarship. Those who register for the online course prior to applying for a scholarship will become ineligible for the scholarship. Please note: scholarships are limited and are assessed and awarded on a first come, first serve basis.

Eligibility guidelines: With generous support from the Saul Zaentz Charitable Foundation and many individual donations honoring Project Zero’s 50th anniversary in 2017, Project Zero is able to offer a limited number of professional learning scholarships to support a range of schools, districts, and organizations as well as a diverse group of educators. These scholarships aim to support teams of educators and individual educators working in under-resourced contexts and/or with historically marginalized students.

  • In the United States, public school educators working in schools with a free and reduced lunch rate of 25% or more OR educators working primarily with students who attend these schools.
  • Outside of the United States, educators whose schools or organizations serve 25% or more students whose families meet the country-defined standard for low-income.

To apply for a scholarship use the Scholarship Application link at the top of this page.

Confirmation and Payment

Registration confirmations are sent automatically from the registration software. Please keep these emails as they include your receipt of payment for documentation as well as your confirmation number should you need to access your registration in the future.

Payments are accepted via credit card or invoice for payment by check or wire transfer. Confirmation of registration does not confirm full payment if participants selected to pay other than by a credit card. All required paperwork and payments must be completed (or evidence provided of payments in process) by the registration deadline. For participants whose required paperwork and/or payments are not finalized at the registration deadline, they will be removed from the course roster and placed on a wait list.

Deadline for Registration

For the in-depth courses starting February 19, 2024, the deadline for registration is Sunday, February 11, 2024 at 11:59pm Boston Time.

Please note: Space is limited. The courses may fill prior to the registration deadline.

Refund Request and Participant Substitution Deadlines

Requests for refunds and participant substitutions for the in-depth course for the February 2024 term must be submitted by February 11, 2024, 11:59 Boston Time.

To request a refund, submit a participant substitution, or to ask questions, please email pzlearn@gse.harvard.edu.