The most important point to remember for a concept-based classroom is that the students come up with the generalization of conceptual understanding!
That is why Guiding Questions are so important. A key component of unit planning is writing factual, conceptual and provocative questions that correspond to the generalization and lead students to discover it.
You should also choose a mix of understanding, knowledge and skills as the goals of your lesson.
Here is a general list of steps to guide an inquiry, concept-based lesson plan:

  1. Initial response to conceptual questions
  2. Learn about a specific context (topic)
  3. Develop a hypothesis about the topic
  4. Learn more about the context
  5. Abstract to a generalization supported by evidence from the context
  6. Transfer to a new situation
  7. Reflect on your thinking

Example from a Grade 6 Geography Lesson:

  1. What happens among nations when shared resources become scarce?
  2. There is a water crisis along the Nile River. We will look at two nations in particular, Egypt and South Sudan to see what is happening between these two nations. Egypt is more powerful than South Sudan. Water flows from South Sudan to Egypt.
  3. What do you think is going to happen in this situation?
  4. Evaluate potential solutions. Learn what is really happening based on the potential solutions.
  5. Edit and enhance your generalization based on the context of the Nile. Use evidence from the situation to defend your generalization.
  6. There is a similar situation with the Senkaku Islands off the coast of Japan. Does your generalization hold true here? Enhance your generalization to account for the nuanced differences between the two situations.
  7.  Reflect on how your thinking improved in clarity, significance, depth and relevance over the course of the lesson.

Other Important Points:

  • Students must provide evidence to support their generalizations.
  • Provide opportunities for students to improve their generalizations in class, through concrete examples.
  • Provide opportunities for students to improve their generalizations through transfer to new situations.
  • Have the students reflect on the improvement of their thinking.

Happy Lesson Planning!