This blog first appeared on Share My Lesson. Has anyone ever told you that young children aren’t capable of having abstract thoughts? That was the prevailing view when I studied psychology many moons ago. But recent research and practical experience are challenging this conventional wisdom. According to Eager to Learn, the National Research Council’s report on… Continue reading How to Honor Childhood with Intellectual Rigor
You've read all the books (or at least a few blog posts) on concept-based curriculum. You've reoriented your lessons to serve conceptual goals. You've sketched out the most important facts, topics, concepts, and theories for each unit. You have refined your generalizations over and over again to capture the exact understanding you're aiming for. But something… Continue reading 3 Steps to a Successful Concept-Based Unit
Last week we posted a general outline of teaching students to learn conceptually. Today we apply the outline to an actual class -- 6th grade social studies. Here's the context: The teacher worries that it might feel abrupt to suddenly begin being explicit about conceptual learning in the middle of the unit. A potential solution?… Continue reading What does it look like to teach students to learn conceptually?
NOTE: This blog, as all our other blogs on conceptual learning, is based on the work of H. Lynn Erickson and Lois A. Lanning. Planning is done. You have around 3 - 5 powerful statements of conceptual relationships, a conceptual lens, questions that lead to discovery of the relationships and a list of corresponding facts… Continue reading Teaching students to learn conceptually
Once you have a beautifully written statement of conceptual relationships, or even if you don't(!), you can still be a concept-based teacher if you follow this simple advice: Much like Optimus Prime transforms himself from a semi-truck to an all-powerful robot leader, you can transform your curriculum from a pile of information into powerful insights… Continue reading TBT: Transform your classroom in 8 words or less!
I'm a fan of the International Baccalaureate Program. I love the commitment to building a better world through education. I love the inquiry process of learning and the dedication to improving the quality of student thinking. Most of all, I love that the curriculum is grounded in the desire for students to gain conceptual understanding of… Continue reading Concepts and the IB
Everything I read these days points to the need for an interdisciplinary approach to learning. It's touted to boost engagement and bring coherence to the otherwise jolty school experience most kids endure each day. My favorite rationale for interdisciplinary work is that it's necessary for solving real-world problems. Although we often isolate discipline-specific approaches, skills, and… Continue reading Making interdisciplinary projects work — concepts are the key!
A few years ago, my colleague Dave made these amazing stickers to help the concept-based model "stick" in teachers' brains. They were oh-so-simple, but oh-so-effective. We had read chapters and chapters on concept-based curriculum and instruction (thanks, Erickson), the research that points to the need for conceptual frameworks (thanks, National Research Council) and tons of… Continue reading Concept-based instruction in two simple words: uncover, transfer
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!
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