We are excited to have Jeff Haddad as today’s guest blogger. Jeff became certified in Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction by Dr. H. Lynn Erickson. His words follow.
I recently had the opportunity and privilege to attend Dr. H. Lynn Erickson’s Concept Based Curriculum Institute in Whitefish, Montana with close to 40 professional educators from all over the world. During my time I was able to reflect on why concept-based instruction and math instruction work so well together. As a former Elementary Math Coach and now as a Middle School Interventionist I have seen so many students struggle to remember math procedures because they have been taught in a rote and procedural manner.
Concept-based instruction has made me realize that mathematics is, by nature, a conceptual language. We need to think about relationships between key mathematical concepts and focus on them in our instruction so students develop an understanding of how and why mathematics works. As educators we need to recognize that this process is challenging and time consuming, but necessary if we truly want students to develop deeper understandings of mathematics. Discussions and sharing ideas with so many different educators have made me enthusiastic about shifting the focus of instruction in mathematics from doing rote procedures to understanding relationships between mathematical concepts. When we do this I am confident we will see students who are more confident and capable problem solvers because they will understand how to strategically think through problems.
I look forward to supporting this mission with educators and their students!
Region 15 Interventionist
Memorial Middle School
Great blog topic! I’ve been trying to make this a focus of my instruction for awhile now. Any tips or reading material on the specifics of how to foster conceptual understanding in math would be much appreciated!
Thanks, Craig. I like Stirring the Head, Heart and Soul by Erickson the best, I think. For math in particular, I like How Students Learn Mathematics in the Classroom which you can download for free at http://www.nap.edu (National Academies Press). And although he doesn’t explicitly focus on “concept-based”, Van De Walle’s Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics is excellent for the kind of inductive teaching that Erickson advocates. You just need to add the super important step of asking kids to describe the relationship between concepts as they discover them! Let us know how those suit you and if you discover others. 🙂 – Julie