This step of the conceptual unit development process involves the creation of learning experiences that will allow students to eventually demonstrate an understanding of the generalizations, skills, and content that compose your unit, in whatever assessment method that you have selected.

Suggested Resources For Learning Experiences

3rd grade learning experience

6-12 grade learning experience

I. The Purpose of Learning Experiences

The learning experiences that compose a unit should, in the words of H. Lynn Erickson, "prepare students for success on the performance tasks [and] address the know, understand, and able to do components in the unit" (Erikson, 2007, p. 72).

Ultimately, the learning experiences are the heart of your unit plans and will help lead students to an understanding of the generalizations, content, and skills that make up your unit. These are activities, student performances, and lesson plans that are the 'meat' of your unit.

Note that while the crafting of learning experiences follows the development of performance tasks and assessments, the actual instruction occurs before the final assessment!

II. Creating Learning Experiences

In creating learning experiences for your students, it is important to provide them with a variety of tasks and activities that will allow them to demonstrate understanding. Remember, your goal should be to help students grasp the content, skills, and generalizations that compose your unit. The learning experiences may take 20 minutes or 2 weeks to complete, simply depending on what they are and what your final performance task or assessment will look like. Click here for an example of a 3rd grade learning experience and related performance task, and click here for a 6-12 learning experience and performance task.
Learning experiences can provide you with an opportunity to differentiate within your lesson plans and can influence the differentiation that you choose to do within your final performance tasks and assessments.

III. Learning Experiences and Lesson Planning

Learning experiences are the heart of your lesson plans. Remember that everything you do within the lesson plan must connect back to the generalizations that you are trying to get students to understand, and the learning experience within the lesson should reflect the lesson itself (Erikson, 2007):
  • coherent
  • interesting
  • time-worthy
  • aligned to the standards
  • differentiated

If you remember that the learning experience should allow the students to eventually "demonstrate a transferable, conceptual understanding" (Erikson, 2007, p. 86), then what you create will be enjoyable and successful for both you and your students!


Digital tools used during the course of this presentation have been helpful to some educators across the state. However, due to the rapidly changing digital environment, NCDPI does not represent nor endorse that these tools are the exclusive digital tools for the purposes outlined during the presentation.

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