Concept-Based CurriculumLearning Through Big Ideas
Big IdeasMany bright children are global thinkers -- they need to see the whole picture before analyzing the details. They usually have a heightened awareness of the interconnectedness among people, ideas, and environments. They are also likely to be able to transfer this knowledge to a variety of different settings. For example, they might see a color pattern when stringing beads, a natural pattern on butterfly wings, or a process pattern while getting ready for dinner.
It is essential that our children become thinkers and problem solvers, not just memorizers of facts. They need big ideas that they can take with them through their lives so that they will be able to understand complex interactions and become true innovators. The Moving Beyond the Page concept-based curriculum will help achieve those ends.
What Makes a Good ConceptMany curricula teach themes such as "bears" or "winter." These themes are much different than true concepts. Concept-based instruction is based on the following characteristics:
Abstract concepts stimulate higher-level thinking. They rise above the fact base to foster a deeper understanding. Many curricula for younger grades will use "apples" as a concept. As a concept, this falls short of providing children with a "big idea" that will help them process their world. Moving Beyond the Page uses concepts such as interdependence, cycles, and relationships.
Concepts should remain constant through time. Even though factual examples of a concept can be found, the concept transcends individual situations. An example from the Age 5-7 level is the concept of "change." When students understands that change is inevitable, they can take that understanding and apply it across different stages in their learning. For example, a six year old may understand that people and animals grow and change over time, while a ten year old may begin to recognize that relationships change over time.
Universal truths are those that can be applied across many different fields of knowledge. This is crucial in order for students to draw connections among different areas of their life. With these "big ideas," students are able to view the world through different lenses and are able learn how ideas and situations are related.
The Age 5-7 curriculum uses "environment" as a concept. When your child studies environments she will see that the forest is an environment for a deer, her own home is a part of her environment, the weather is a part of the outside environment, and the community is her larger environment. Even at age 5, your child is learning ideas that will follow her throughout life.