Concept-driven curriculum

The PYP has five essential elements (knowledge, attitudes, skills, concepts and action) and the one I want to look at closer today are the concepts.

In A Basis for Practice, the IB states:

The PYP provides a framework for the curriculum, including eight key concepts as one of the essential
By identifying concepts that have relevance within each subject area, and across and beyond the subject
areas, the PYP has defined an essential element for supporting its transdisciplinary model of teaching and
learning. Expressed as open-ended questions, the eight key concepts provide the initial momentum and
the underlying structure for the exploration of the content of the whole programme

A recent blog post by Maggie @ Tech Transformation about Teaching for Understanding inspired me to reply, and while I was replying, I made an interesting connection between assessment and key concepts.
In addition to that, I have been reading Seven Practices for Effective Learning by Jay McTighe and Ken O’Connor in preparation for our assessment workshop on November 1/2. All this had my mind tuned into assessment and my current assessment practices.
The statement I made at Maggie’s blog was simply the thought that, ultimately, summative assessment is also a form of formative assessment and that, while it is defined as assessment OF learning (and formative assessment is seen as assessment FOR learning) and usually summarizes the learning at the end of a unit, we cannot just STOP there. And we don’t. Traditionally in Math, even your summative assessment will inform your teaching and learning, same goes for other disciplines.

However, units of inquiry do end. The transdisciplinary themes reoccur every year, but the central idea that focuses the learning during a unit, will “stop”. This is when I realized the importance of the eight key concepts, and saw that they are REALLY the focus. We assess the understanding of the central idea, but what underlies here are the key concepts. And so we assess the understanding of those as well, and they will reoccur, usually more than once a year.


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