The Structure of Knowledge and Process



traditional curriculum design ask teachers to cover long lists of content and skill objectives the problem is knowledge is expanding exponentially and there's not enough time to cover everything plus if students need to quickly find information they can simply find it online on top of that research shows that simply covering information doesn't result in deep understanding that's why Lynne Ericsson developed concept based curriculum and instruction which is built around the structure of knowledge and Lois laning developed the structure of process complementary models that help teachers focus on the higher conceptual levels of thinking and understanding some disciplines like science social studies and math are structured by their factual content for these disciplines we'll use the structure of knowledge topics and facts are at the bottom of the structure of knowledge topics frame a set of facts that are locked in time place or a situation for example the topic of the American Revolution frames many facts such as the Boston Tea Party was revolt against taxation without representation or the Patriots in the loyalist spot in the American Revolution concepts are represented by multiple examples which share common attributes concepts transferred through time across cultures and across situations students need to understand how multiple concepts are connected within a discipline this relationship is expressed as a generalization in social studies students understand that people may revolt against government oppression this structure describes content-heavy discipline but what if you teach English language arts music or languages or art these subjects focus more on the key processes strategies and skills that students must demonstrate shown on the structure of process for example an elementary music curriculum unit might be titled tyrants of music one of the important processes students learn in this unit is composition but we don't just focus on strategies and skills we also engage students deeper thinking by considering the concepts within the composition process like composers series musical notes and melody features use these concepts to write a transferable understanding students learn not only the strategies and skills of composing a melody but also come to uncover an important understanding or generalization about composing melodies composers arrange a series of musical notes to create a pleasing melody students can now carry this understanding with them tuning pieces of music now let's look at the process of reading comprehension in a unit titled getting to know characters in order to move curriculum and instruction beyond doing we draw out essential concepts from the comprehension process concepts like character traits description dialogue feelings and thoughts curriculum writers then write a generalization that becomes one of the learning targets for the few 'not of study the student understands that writers reveal character traits through dialogue descriptions thoughts and feelings and relationships with other characters if students understand these critical concepts and processes you'll find that they're able to transfer them to new situations that's the goal you don't know the facts and skills our students will need beyond school so we can design a concept based curriculum for teaching and learning so students can see patterns make connections and transfer understanding through time and across whatever situations they encounter

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