My school is looking into moving towards concept based instruction as a way to help students understand each subject’s “big idea” better. This sounds good. Who wouldn’t want students to understand the “big ideas” of math/science/English/social studies?
However, I am not sure what this approach practically entails. This blog post is my first exploration into concept based instruction, my attempt to understand its “big ideas”.
Concept Based Teaching is “driven by “big ideas” rather than subject specific content (Erickson, 2008).
Teachers apply this method by “leading students to consider the context in which they will use their understanding, concept-based learning brings “real world” meaning to content knowledge and skills. Students become critical thinkers which is essential to their ability to creatively solve problems in the 21st century.”
The “big idea” of concept based instruction is finding ways to help students become able to transfer their knowledge to new situations. Transfer is great, and I am all for it.
What are concepts?
So far, I am largely liking what I am reading regarding concept based teaching. The initial definition gave me some pause with “leading students to consider the context”. Why lead them when I can just tell them and then get them to apply it? But I was comforted by Josh and Joanne Edwards statement, “As we present it, concept-based instruction must begin with content skills and knowledge established by local standards and curriculum guides.”
I am going to end this article here for two reasons. One, I am finding the vocabulary of concept based teaching very difficult. I need to do a lot more reading before I can understand it (It seems like concept based instruction is just trying to build student schemas deliberately. I am not sure why they don’t use the established language for this and invented “new” terms.) Two, I am tired.