Concept Based Learning

I am very interested in Concept Based Learning. I believe it is vital that in our crowded curricula, we have a clear framework that encourages deeper thinking and connections between disciplines. 

Below is my presentation for the Teachmeet at the State Library of Victoria. It is a short overview of how Concept Based learning fits in with other curricula, frameworks and pedagogies (of which there are so many!).

We are rewriting our Middle School Curriculum so that it fits with both the MYP and the Australian National Curriculum (ACARA). There are some tensions there: because the content is prescribed, implementing true inquiry based learning can be a challenge. However, I believe the emphasis on concept based learning in the MYP ties it all together neatly.

When we start a unit, we look at the Key Concept and the Related Concepts in the MYP. Below is what we can choose from.

Here is a PDF of the Humanities Key and Related Concepts: Humanities Key Concepts P42 MYP Humanities Guide

Subject: Humanities / Individuals and Societies 

Key Concepts    
Change Systems Global Interactions
Time/Place/Space  
Related Concepts – History
Causality (cause/consequence) Culture Civilisation
Innovation Governance Ideology
Interdependence Cooperation Conflict
Identity Significance Perspective
Related Concepts – Geography
Causality Networks Patterns
Power Globalisation Values
Scale Disparity Diversity
Sustainability Processes Management
Related Concepts – Economics
Resources Scarcity Choice
Power Globalisation Consumption
Poverty Equity Sustainability
Trade Growth Model
Related Concepts – Business and Management
Change Culture Ethics
Globalisation Innovation Strategy
Leadership Structure Competition
Cooperation Power Processes
Related Concepts – Philosophy
Identity Being and becoming Alterity (self and other)
Values Human nature Personality
Belief Knowledge Liberty
Causality Mind / Body Objectivity / subjectivity
Related Concepts – Psychology
Cognition Symptoms Consciousness
Unconsciousness Development Behaviour
Mind Group Mental Illness

Once the concepts have been determined, we start developing the major summative assessment task. This task is driven by the concepts and the content.

For instance, a Year 10 History unit on Migration.

The key concept is Change. Related concepts are Time, Place and Culture. The main summative task will ask students to pick one of these:

  • Personal migration history linked to migration group
  • History of a suburb
  • History of a sports club

and create a presentation (any medium) that looks at Change through the three lenses of Time, Place and Culture.

Through this task, the students will become explicitly aware how migration creates change over time, in their surroundings and in a culture. The unit will be taught next year, so I can not share with you how it went, but as far as curriculum writing goes, Concept Based Learning provides an excellent overall umbrella for many curricula, frameworks and pedagogies. After all, in our world of instant information, it’s all about higher order and deep thinking  as well as big picture and conceptual understanding.

Here is a video of the TeachMeet I presented at (May 16th, 2013)