When we work with teachers to shift toward concept-based instruction things tend to follow a distinct pattern, a roller coaster that flows from over-excitement to near abandonment and back again. First, there is incredible eagerness and enthusiasm. This makes so much sense! YES! I've always felt like my curriculum was too shallow! Show me more! I can't wait… Continue reading Struggling with concepts? This might help!
This week we continue talking about concept-based teaching and learning. As a history teacher, I've found that it's really easy to plan a lesson or unit that I think leads to conceptual understanding only later to reflect and realize that we spent most of our time down in the factual "weeds" and that concepts played a secondary role… Continue reading Introducing concepts in 3 easy steps!
I'm enrolled in a couple online workshops to learn more about the International Baccalaureate Program and yesterday had to watch the this Tedx Talk by Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs who asserts that the current curriculum is preparing kids for 1992. It's a fairly short talk but full of ideas and suggestions such as more authentic assessments… Continue reading 21st Century Learning: Don’t Dump the Disciplines
Here's what I used to think about vertical alignment (in a nutshell): You look at the overarching ideas and understandings plus the discrete facts and skills of each course and make sure there are no significant gaps or overlap, although you do want some things to "spiral" throughout the grade levels. We never really broke… Continue reading Vertical Alignment of Conceptual Understanding
Have you been working with concepts in your curriculum for a while? Have you already received training on concept-based curriculum and would like to explore more deeply how to assess it and how to introduce it to students? This is the workshop for you! Participants will leave with concrete examples, templates and the start of… Continue reading Advanced Concept-Based Workshop
Assessing for deep understanding and higher order thinking is not easy. It's oh-so-much easier to assess for factual recall. But it's worth doing. Combining the work of Dr. Erickson and Dr. Lanning on concept-based curriculum and instruction with the work of Dr. Susan Brookhart on assessment, we've been able to come up with some decent examples of… Continue reading Assessing Conceptual Understanding
The most important point to remember for a concept-based classroom is that the students come up with the generalization of conceptual understanding! That is why Guiding Questions are so important. A key component of unit planning is writing factual, conceptual and provocative questions that correspond to the generalization and lead students to discover it. You… Continue reading What does a concept-based classroom look like?
Knowledge does not fall from the sky. Someone discovers it! There are complex processes that are essential to the functioning of each discipline -- and they take years to cultivate! How do we help students to build their understanding and use of these processes? Dr. Lois Lanning's Structure of Process, the complement to Dr. Erickson's… Continue reading Cultivating Thinking in the Disciplines
Perhaps the biggest challenge in implementing a concept-based curriculum is making the jump from the person who wrote the curriculum to implementation in the classroom. In my dream world, each teacher would have enough training, apprenticeship and time to write their own well-researched, engaging curriculum from enduring understandings to daily lessons. This is often no… Continue reading From Curriculum Writer to Classroom Teacher
Few people have contributed as much to the field of education as Dr. H Lynn Erickson, the godmother of concept-based curriculum. I'm in a sentimental mood as this week marks her last certification institute. She has trained, assessed and certified hundreds of educators on her brilliant curriculum model and now it's up to us to… Continue reading The Legacy of Dr. Lynn Erickson