When I was in grade four I had a teacher tell me that I would have to work very hard if I wanted to be a writer when I grew up because my writing wasn’t very good. That tiny sentence, said in passing one day after I’d shared a story I wrote on my own, has stuck with me for all these years. The feedback you give to students sticks with them, even when you don’t think it will. You need to make sure your feedback helps them become better students and guides them without being ultra-judgy and destroying their self-esteem. This can be a challenging task (especially when we’re overwhelmed with things to get done). Keep reading to find out how you can master the art of giving students feedback.[Read more…] about How to Give Amazing Student Feedback
Concept Based Instruction? Is this just a new fad? Hoping it will pass and nothing will change? This is the new direction in education and we believe is here to stay even if it isn’t mandated. It just makes sense! It took us awhile to wrap our heads around what this looks like in a classroom…practically. And we are still learning! Here is what we’ve learned so far.
What is it?
Concept based instruction focuses on using content (topics, facts, and skills) to uncover the actual learning concept and the relationship between different concepts. It is multi-dimensional and looks at what students need to know, understand and do. The learning of overarching concepts helps students to transfer the learning to new situations. The goal is to get students to think at higher levels, to have students move from just learning facts to being able to make generalizations that apply to new learning. Familiar with Understanding by Design? Planning concept based instruction parallels backwards design. Familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy? Concept based instruction includes different levels of Bloom’s taxonomy.
What does “concept” mean?
A concept refers to a big idea that students must understand and not just know and do. It is abstract, timeless and universal. For example, a traditional unit of study might include the study of the War of 1812, or World War I or World War II. Using a concept based approach, the concept could be: power, technology, conflict or identity (among other possibilities). If identity was the chosen concept then the big idea could be framed as: War can shape the way a country thinks about itself and the way other people perceive it. If technology was the chosen concept then the big idea could be framed as: Technology can change the outcomes of war over time. In both of these examples the War of 1812, World War I and World War II are used as ‘case studies’ to exemplify the chosen concept.
This post just barely scratches the surface but gets us thinking about the idea of concept based instruction. We will be exploring the different aspects of concept based teaching in a series of short posts. What do you already know about concept based instruction? What are you hoping to learn? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Do you have boundaries when it comes to using your personal time for teaching related activities? Do you have a hard time saying no? Do you always find people add to your to-do list because you’re just so darn good at everything? Are you struggling with time management? Need a boost to your productivity?
This was us, but we managed to start carving out time by doing a few simple things. We reclaimed our personal lives to spend the time we wanted to spend on our life priorities. You can learn to do this, too.[Read more…] about Save Your Time
What do you do when you want to challenge students, but you also want them to learn? We give them critical thinking challenges. Critical thing requires many skills-problem solving, collaboration, design thinking, and perseverance. When a critical thinking question is carefully crafted, you can get students to explore learning outcomes while having fun and being engaged in their learning at the same time.[Read more…] about What About Critical Thinking Challenges?
Makerspaces: They seem to be all the buzz, but the concept that drives them isn’t new. For many years, we’ve been focused on directing every moment of our students’ lives. As parents, the lives of children are scheduled to the point they never have a moment to decide for themselves what to do. As teachers, if our students don’t look like they’re working, we worry that someone will think they aren’t learning. So when did we decide as adults that play is a bad thing?[Read more…] about Why Makerspaces?
How do we create a classroom community where all students feel they are equal and belong? It turns out we’ve had more combined grade classes that straight grade classes since we began teaching, so we can’t imagine teaching any other way. First of all, we call it a combined class rather than a split class. It’s the first thing we do with parents because our combined classes are not like the old ‘split’ classes.
When students come into our classroom on the first day of school they immediately collect into two different groups-the lower grade and the upper grade. They don’t know each other well and like to sit with their friends. We don’t give students a seating plan right away (or sometimes at all) so we can see which relationships form or are already in place, but then we slowly start changing their mindset about the combined class.