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CONCEPT-BASED TEACHING KNOW UNDERSTAND DO. Kristina Doubet Joyce Stone MALLETTS BAY August 2009. First Step in Designing Differentiated Curriculum is …. …FOCUS!. Learning Goals : Knows, Understands, Be able to Dos.

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Concept based teaching know understand do


Kristina Doubet

Joyce Stone


August 2009

First step in designing differentiated curriculum is

First Step in Designing Differentiated Curriculum is…


Learning Goals: Knows, Understands, Be able to Dos

Understandings are the learning goals this is our learning goal for today

Understandings are the Learning GoalsThis is our learning goal for today.

The KUD model is used in all content areas to ensure that all students have access to CONCEPTS--the Big Ideas. The KUD, in the context of concept-based curriculum and instruction, provides the teacher a useful tool to ensure that the process of teaching and learning is clear, consistent, meaningful, and grounded in higher order thinking when used in the daily lesson design, unit planning, and identifying the scope of learning for the year.

Concept based teaching

Concept-Based Teaching


“A concept serves as an integrating lens” and encourages the transfer of ideas within and across the disciplines “as students search for patterns and connections in the creation of new knowledge.”1

Examples: Change, Culture, Systems, Interdependence, Organization

1 Lynn Erickson – Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction, 2002



  • Perspective/perception

  • Judgment/Decision-making

  • Style/Uniqueness

  • Connectedness/connection

  • Big Picture

  • Community

  • Unity

  • Inquiry

  • Communication

  • Relationships

  • Reflection

  • Tolerance

  • Collaboration/sharing

  • Overcoming obstacles/Survival

  • Compensation/adaptation

Concept based teaching know understand do








"Be able to Dos"



Concept based teaching know understand do



Change to one element of a story will result in change to the other elements.


Definitions of setting, plot, point of view, conflict...


  • Analyze the impact of historical perspective on a piece of writing.

  • Determine the effects of a story’s point of view.


  • Write a modern-day version of a legend or myth.

  • Rewrite a fairy tale from the perspective of a different character.

Planning a focused curriculum means clarity about what students should

Planning a focused curriculum means clarity about what students should:

KNOW: Nouns

  • Facts

  • Vocabulary

    UNDERSTAND: Whole sentences

  • Concepts, “Big Ideas”

  • Principles, generalizations

    BE ABLE TO DO/Skills: Verbs

  • Basic Skills (Read non-fiction text)

  • Thinking Skills (analyze, solve, compare/contrast, discriminate fact/fiction)

  • Skills of the Discipline (What does an mathematician do? Engineer?)

  • Planning (Goal setting, use of time)

  • Social (cooperation, sharing)

See these examples

UnderstandingsThese are the conceptual objectives you have for your students. They are statements that represent big ideas, reside in the heart of the discipline, must be uncovered, and have the potential to engage students.…

See these examples….

2 Wiggins and McTIghe – Understanding by Design, 1998

Students will understand that

Students will understand that…


… ecosystem is comprised of interdependent parts.*

…..change to one part of an ecosystem results in change in its other parts.*

Social Studies:

….all cultures have beliefs, roles, traditions, economies, and technologies.

……people change and are changed by their culture.*


.…at times the right answer is not the best solution.

…. shapes, and patterns are found all around us


….each of a system’s (story’s) elements exists in an interdependent relationship with the other elements.

….changing even one element will alter the story’s organization and outcome in some way.*

*=Generalizations: Understandings that show the relationship between two or more concepts

2 Wiggins and McTIghe – Understanding by Design, 1998

Mathematics grade 1

Mathematics Grade 1

Concept: Numbers

Essential Question: How and why do

we use numbers?


Number words

Definitions—number sequence

Understand: We use numbers in different ways and for

variety of reasons.


Identify numbers 1- 30 and use to count objects

Write number words from 1-30 and use to label objects

Put numbers in correct order from 1-30

Another look at math

Another Look at Math…..

Concept: Relationships

Lesson Topic: Fractions/halves

Essential Question: What is the relationship between a part and a whole?

As a result of this lesson, student will:

  • Know…vocabulary associated with fractions (fraction, half, whole, “equal parts,” numerator, denominator

  • Understand…The properties of a “part” depend upon the relationship between that part and its whole

  • Be able to…

    • …compare and contrast different halves

    • …explain how halves can be different sizes

Grade 2 math readiness activity

Grade 2 MathReadiness Activity

Whole Half Half

To display halves of different sizes:

  • Struggling…

    • Give students different-sized circles in an envelope

    • Give students a chart and ask them to display the halves next to the appropriate wholes.

  • Advanced…

    • Give students snap cubes, attribute blocks, construction paper

    • Give students the same chart and ask them to display the halves next to the appropriate wholes.

Reading grade 3

Reading Grade 3

Concept: Word Power

Essential Question: How can we increase our word power?


Definition of word power, theme

Group cooperation skills

Webbing, mapping, and brainstorming strategies

Words in relationship to themes


We can learn and use strategies to increase our word power.


Define and use word power.

Work in a group using the cooperation skills

Engage in brainstorming that adds to students’ word power

Brainstorm lists of words to go with themes using webbing and mapping

Social studies grade 3

Social Studies Grade 3

Concept: Community/Interdependence

Lesson Topic: Neighborhoods and Communities

Essential Question: Why are communities important? How do they work?

As a result of this lesson, students will…

  • Know…elements of a community, roles of community members, needs vs. wants; goods and services

  • Understand that…People in a community depend on one another to fulfill different needs and supply different wants.

  • Be able to…

    • Examine the facets of a community

    • Compare and contrast community members’ roles and the good and services they provide

Science grade 4

Science Grade 4

Concept: Interdependence Topic: Cells

Essential Question: Why is interdependence

essential to plants and humans?


  • Names and functions of each cell part


  • The cell is an interdependent system; each part is needed for the cell to survive and thrive.


  • Identify each cell part by sight

  • Explain the function of each cell part

  • Analyze how the cell would be affected by the loss or malfunction of each part.

Social studies grade 4

Social Studies Grade 4

Concept: Civilization Topic: Survival

Essential Questions:

What are key factors that affect the survival of a

civilization? What can we learn from other civilizations?

Know: facts about “ancient river valley civilization, focusing

on Egypt and Mesopotamia, terms/definitions pertaining to


Understand that: Survival of a civilization depends upon

effective utilization of resources, communication and trade,

and organizational systems

Do: locate the civilizations in time and place, describe the

development of social, political, economic structures,

explain the development of religious traditions

Science grade 5

Science Grade 5

Concept: Systems/Topic: Energy

Essential Questions: Why are we faced with a number of complex

questions about the use of energy in the future?

Know: vocabulary related to the topic, sources of energy in VT, difference

between potential energy and kinetic energy, law of conservation of energy,

different forms of energy, efficiency of energy transformation

Understand: the amount of energy from human use on Earth is limited,

that technology creates the need more energy as well as providing solutions

to some of our energy needs, that natural and human factors have created

the need for humans to make complex decisions about the use of energy.

DO: Classify energy as renewable and non-renewable

Examine the amounts and types of energy used to make certain common

objects and calculate the cost

Become an expert on a specific source of energy

Weigh the pros and cons of different energy sources

Make a plan for the use of energy in VT in 2020.

Mathematics grade 5

Mathematics Grade 5

Concept: Relationships Topic: Fractions

Essential Question: How and when do we express numbers that are not whole numbers?

As a result of this lesson, student will:

  • Know… vocabulary associated with fractions: numerator, denominator, equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions

  • Understand…There are a variety of contexts for using fractions and ways to express them.

  • DO…convert fractions to decimals/percents

  • Identify when and how to use fractions in real contexts

Science grade 51

Science Grade 5

Concept: Perspective

Essential Question: How and why does our perspective of the world change over time?


Theory (def.), evidence (def.), steps of the scientific method


Our perspective of the world changes as our knowledge advances.


Explain a scientific idea that has changed over time due to the

acquisition of new evidence

Explain how technology influences the ability of scientists to collect


Media language arts grade 5

Media (Language Arts) Grade 5

Concept: Perspective Topic: Advertising

Essential Question: Why are the media so

important in our lives today? Is that “good” or not?

How does perspective shape our opinions?

Know: Definition of media, perspective, point of view

  • Advertising techniques (bandwagon, testimonial, etc.)

    Understand: Perspective influences decision making

  • The power of advertising lies in the ability to manipulate the audience’s perspective

    Do: Explain and analyze advertising

  • Use point of view strategically in creating an ad

  • Critique other ads; use of point of view to achieve purpose/influence decision making.

From concept to action

From Concept to Action

Introduce – Perspective

Perspective essay assignment with graphic organizer, example, and rubric (student generated criteria).

Sample of teaching up concept multiple perspectives

Sample of Teaching UpConcept: Multiple Perspectives

Novel: To Kill a Mockingbird

“You never really understand a manuntil you walk around in his skin… until you consider things from his point of view.”

The Child's Perspective (Scout)

The Hero's (Atticus and Mrs. DuBose)

The Persecuted (Calpurnia and Tom Robinson)

The Maturing (Jem, Mr. Underwood)

The Outsider's (Boo Radley, Bob and Mayella Ewell, Dolphus Raymond)

Conceptual base allows for flexible groups and tiered perspectives in secondary classroom OR orbital or independent study for high performing upper elementary students.

What an ah ha

What an “Ah-Ha!”

“When I think about differentiation, I realize that concepts really are the most important glue that holds us [our class] together – that keeps us, “us.” Concept-based teaching privileges people who are not normally given learning privileges.”

Brad Blanchette – 10th Grade Humanities, Colchester HS, Colchester, VT

What is your perspective on concept based teaching

What is your perspective on concept-based teaching?

  • What possibilities does this open?

  • -OR-

  • What challenges does it present?

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