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March 4, 2013

Four Critical Elements of Concept-based Curriculum, Instruction,and Assessment

by Diane Twait Nelsen

After being part of a special Institute for Iowa Instructional Teacher Leaders and Coaches sponsored by Prairie Lakes AEA this past fall led by Dr. Lois Lanning and Dr. Lynn Erickson we were challenged to continue our learning….to seek more information about the Concept -based Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, to review the materials that were shared and think about how our work and the work we do with others could or should change based on what we learned.

As I went back to review the materials again this past month, one of the things that jumped out at me was a power point slide that was presented to us by the two speakers/authors above that talked about the “Four Critical Elements of Concept-based Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.  The slide that they shared with us  states these four critical areas:

  • Curriculum guides the instruction of important concepts and transferable ideas.  It reflects high standards that include key facts and skills.
  • Effective concept-based lessons address the varied needs and characteristics of all learners.
  • Assessments reflect what students Know, can Do, and Understand.
  • There is alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment goals.

When I read through those four critical elements I am reminded of the importance of good curriculum for all of our students, both in general education programs and special education programs.  All students need to know and understand the important concepts and transferable ideas of their various classes.  The second critical element reminds me that when teachers are using effective concept based lessons they are addressing the needs and characteristics of all learners, not just those at the very top of the class or those who are struggling …..they are meeting the needs of all learners.  The third characteristic says that the assessments that we give students reflect not only what the student knows, can do, but also what they understand….an assessment that does those three things is more than the memorization of facts….it is about the learning that goes along with knowledge of facts and how those facts were part of the understanding of what was being assessed.  The fourth critical element emphasizes the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment goals…..and as educators we know that aligning the work we do always makes good sense.

To find out more about Concept-based curriculum, Instruction , and Assessment contact any of the Prairie Lakes AEA Learning and Leading consultants.  They can help you as you begin your journey in understanding concept-based curriculum and the positive outcomes it can bring to your students.

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