Methods and Strategies: Concept-Focused Teaching by: Joanne K. Olson

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One of the main problems we face in science teaching is that students are learning isolated facts and missing central concepts. For instance, consider what you know about life cycles. Chances are that you remember something about butterflies and stages, such as egg, larva, pupa, adult. But what’s the take-home idea that we should have learned about life cycles? Do students really need to know “egg, larva, pupa, adult?” An important way to address this is to remain focused on the central concept—i.e., the big ideas—rather than topic-focused teaching.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:49 AM

This article is a plea for teaching the ‘big ideas’ in science and avoiding disconnected and isolated facts. This article shows how some teachers can lose site of the big ideas and select activities that move away from the big idea. Instead this author shows how, through planning, teachers they better plan activities with the focus toward the big idea instead. All of this is done through the efforts of a fictional teacher’s examples of right and wrong. This is a good article for a new teacher.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Mon Mar 28, 2016 1:13 PM

This was a very beneficial article. The goal of learning is for students to develop a deep understanding of the content and to make connections. If they are taught only isolated facts, then they are not able to establish strong connections and do not retain what they have learned. This article stresses the importance of teaching big ideas and concepts, so that students can build on their learning and apply it to other content areas or units of study, which will benefit them in their everyday lives and in their future learning.

Mandy Koch
Mandy Koch

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