Many teachers have the goal of fostering motivated and expansive understanding that matters in the lives of learners within and beyond school. Yet research, and often our own experience, reveals widespread trends that get in the way of meeting that goal. For example, people commonly feel they understand something well when they do not, come to strong opinions on complex issues without thinking about both sides of the case, and fail to see connections between what they learn in school and applications to other settings.

This tool presents research-based design principles and strategies for overcoming these barriers. Use it to help plan instruction that leads to rich understanding that matters in students’ lives.

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