Recently I had a special request to bring back a presentation and mini training I did on differentiating in the classroom from two years ago.  A little surprised, I certainly agreed.  As I paged through my materials and revisited websites and that of Guru Carol Tomlinson, I realized the value in revisiting this content as it applies to professional development and skill development of staff.  So why K.U.D?  No, it is not about cows, horses, ect…it’s a nice easy acronym for remembering to identify what you want your learners to Know, Understand, and Do.

In my last post I talked about the importance of knowing what you want your staff to be able to do as a result of any training offered and implemented.  I now argue for the rest of Carol Tomlinson’s learning design formula when designing effective instructional programs.  First, and intuitively, you identify what the learner is suppose to understand.  I say intuitively because this is the big idea, larger concept or generalization that connects everything else we have to learn together.  For example, “learners will understand that using 21st century tools enhances communication and learning in and outside of the classroom”.  Once you understand the big idea you are trying to address you can then analyze the learning further.

Then next step is to identify the Knows.  What do the learners need to know in order to Understand the big idea?  These are your facts, rules, and vocabulary.  To achieve the above understanding students need to know the tools available.  You would list what those are and include vocabulary necessary to build literacy in your understanding.  For example:

  • Learners know that cloud based tools allow for anywhere anytime access.
  • Learners know you can post content, grades, and links to our LMS.  
  • Learners know that students need to complete a “cloud” form to gain cloud access.

Finally, the Do’s. These are skills and procedures.  They are not the steps you will have the learners go through to accomplish your objectives.  Please refer to my last post for more on Do’s.


  • Learners can properly update posts to edline with recent data
  • Learners create assignments that are turned in digitally through the cloud or LMS
  • Learners transform technology specific assignments to technology neutral assignments

So what is the overall benefit of all this work?  Well, for one you have a very clear picture of what you are designing for. You can easily begin to delineate the type of support and training needed (if needed).  Secondly, this is your formula to begin investigating differentiation of professional growth.  Yes.  I said it.  One shoe for all is not always the best approach and by using KUDs you can begin to see potential differences in learner readiness, learner profiles, and learner interests.   From there you can choose to create different opportunities for how the content is learned, what content is learned, how the learner will demonstrate what they learned, and the environment they will learn in (eLearning, face-to-face, blended?).  Of course , this is only one step in a much bigger picture, but I feel it is certainly a manageable step that can send you into the right direction for creating your most influential and effective instructional programs.



About amyparent

I have a passion for designing instruction that meets the needs of all learners. I enjoy working with subject matter experts and translating technical objectives into easily understood and meaningful objectives for nontechnical audiences.

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