Instructional Design Framework

RVS Instructional Design Planning Framework

This planning framework is a means of implementing the RVS Learning Model in a unit of study. It incorporates the evidence-based practices of Understanding by Design®, Universal Design for Learning, and Balanced Assessment, and is used to structure authentic inquiry-based studies or project-based learning experiences.

The following sections support the design of an authentic inquiry or project-based study. The Do It Yourself section leads to a series of questions that will help you design your study.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is a methodology used by architects, engineers, scientists and others intent on building ideas and creating something new, useful and meaningful. It begins by asking why repeatedly to define the problem in a way that invites exploration. Multiple solutions are imagined before refining options and choosing the project to explore.

Using this process, teachers brainstorm to generate a wide range of learning experiences that will allow students to behave like experts, impact an audience and take action in a real world event or issues. Each option is then examined for the competencies students may develop and key understandings students can gain before the project is chosen.


The Authenticity stage involves exploring the essential question(s) that will drive the study. These questions should have meaning in the lives of students. It involves identifying the audience students will need to impact to give the work meaning and the community resources and experts that will support the learning and tie it to the students'  lived experience.

Making Learning Visible

This stage explores the types of summative assessment that will demonstrate student learning and opportunities for students to reflect on build understanding of themselves as learners (metacognition.)


This stage of planning allows for exploration of the types of formative assessments that support students throughout the learning experience, the tools students will need and the  variety of resources required to ensure the learning is accessible for all students.

Do It Yourself

Plan an Inquiry-Based Learning Experience

Plan a Project-Based Learning Experience




Audience - the person or persons the product of learning is designed to impact.

Authenticity - the degree to which the learning is worth students' time and attention, is personally relevant, and is connected to their real world experiences.


Community Experts and Resources - supports for learning that build authenticity and reinforce the key understanding that learning is a living activity rather than a pursuit confined within school walls.

Competencies - the skills and abilities required for successful 21st Century Learners.

Critique and Revision - the thoughtful process of weighing the quality of a work or plan and improving it through refinement.


Design Thinking - a methodology developed by architects, engineers, designers and other professions charged with generating creative solutions to real-world issues or problems.


Essential Questions - questions without yes, no, or "google-able" answers. They invite deep explorations and help frame the learning goals of an inquiry or project.


Final Product - the vehicle designed to share knowledge generated through inquiry or project-based learning experiences. This could be a film, essay, presentation, work of art, performance, or more.


Inquiry-Based Learning - An approach to learning based on the investigation of real world questions, scenarios, or problems.

Intermediate Deliverables - While learning culminates with the final product, intermediate deliverables such as a collection of possibilities, theories to test, project plans, etc., help teachers and students evaluate progress during learning.


Key Understandings - the concepts students need to know to understand a particular topic.


Making Learning Visible - the documentation of learning that can be shared, revisited and expanded upon and helps teachers and students better understand the learning process.

Metacognition - the ability to reflect on our own thinking.


Scaffolding -the people, resources and tools put in place to support a learning on their journey towards mastery.

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