Friday, 31 October 2014

Importance of 'Key Concepts' in Primary Learning

Key concepts are broad, organizing, powerful ideas that have relevance within and across subjects and disciplines, providing connections that can transfer across time, culture, subject knowledge.

These key concepts are what is common as an over-riding principle across events, issues, learning over time. For example - a study of 'Matter and how it exists in our world' s about understanding the concepts of Form and Change, a study of tectonic plate movements. A study of 'Natural disasters' is about understanding the concepts of Causation, Change and Connection.

A Concept is a big idea, a principle or conception that is enduring. 
Concepts have an essential place in the structure of knowledge. They require students to demonstrate levels of thinking that reach beyond facts or topics. Concepts are used to formulate the understandings that students should retain in the future; they become principles and generalization.The exploration and re-exploration of concepts lead students towards:
  • A deeper understanding
  • Ideas that transcend disciplines
  • Engagement with complex ideas, including the ability to transfer and apply ideas and skills to new  situations
  • Higher levels of thinking as students analyse complex topics or learning

Simply put - Content is forgotten, concepts are remembered.

The driving force at the heart of the PYP curriculum are the key concepts of  - Form, Function, Causation, Change, Connection, Perspective, Responsibility, Reflection

Here is an example of unpacking the key concept of Perspective in the theme of 'How we express ourselves' from a grade 2A:

Tuesday October 13, 2014

Class Teacher, Vandana Aragula said "We unpacked the key concept Perspective on Monday through instructional drawing where children were given the same instruction to draw on a piece of paper without looking at each others work. They then shared their work with their partner and wrote their perspective of what it looked like to them. When asked the purpose of the activity, children said that it's about 'different thinking process of each person'. From there it was easy to unpack perspective and get their understanding of the concept."

After unpacking this key concept of Perspective children then explore the unit 'Rituals and traditions throughout history and enable people today to express their culture, beliefs and values' - with the key concept - Perspective, Form and Change.

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