Make Complex Ideas Simple with Concept-Based Instruction
Concept-based instruction was the tool that helped me to integrate all the necessary pieces to take my lessons from vague and confusing to electrifying!
- Have fun
- Be more actively involved
- Develop learning skills more quickly, as each one is connected to and reinforced by the other
- Be more confident and better motivated
- Present fewer discipline problems.
The scientific method was a difficult topic for my kindergarten and first grade students. I needed a way to teach it that would keep their attention as well as help them learn and remember it. I decided I wanted to try out concept-based instruction as part of my morning meeting activities. This is when my babies were the freshest and I could begin our day with an exciting topic like scientific method, and use it throughout the day.
The 5 Essential Literacy Elements to Light Up Those Tricky Concepts
I found that incorporating these 5 literacy elements did so much to amplify my students’ grasp on difficult ideas, like scientific method.
Surprised that this is #1? Vocabulary so often gets shoved into the background when we talk about literacy and it is critical for our students’ development. So we say, why not make it front and center? With an ever expanding worldview in the job market, disciplinary literacy is becoming more and more important. Students have to read articles, textbooks, and other informational resources and have to be able to make sense of them.
A focus at the elementary level on foundational reading, when expanded to
include engaging experiences connected to informational texts, vocabulary,
and writing for content-specific purposes builds background knowledge
and skills in each discipline. This increases opportunities for success as
students approach more rigorous content in those disciplines (Alliance for
Excellent Education, 2011)
Forget what you think your students can handle. The more you challenge them and prepare them for more challenging experiences ahead, the more you guarantee success in your classroom. You are also guaranteeing your students’ success as they grow and learn more!
Vocabulary is useless if your students don’t understand the words. This is the issue we’re dealing with, right? How do I teach my kids the word “hypothesis” when they’re still learning “cat?” It’s madness! But I’ll tell you, it’s easier than you think.
Start with a Collection of Vocabulary Words for Science
Decide on a group of words that best explain scientific method. You pick a word each day to focus on and discuss how it relates to the other words in the theme. I started by displaying these vocabulary words for science. I use these words for vocabulary to introduce the scientific method. I asked my students what they thought all these cards had in common, and some have actually said, “science!”. I introduce all the words and tell them a little about the scientific method. Next, I explain that we will be focusing on the first word, scientist.
3 and 4. Phonics and Phonemic Awareness
If you’re a science of reading fan, this is likely where you were told to live. And don’t get me wrong, phonics and phonemic awareness are amazing! They are the most effective and reliable way to teach your students how to read. So why don’t we start there?
One essential pillar of our Daily Concept Builders method is natural learning. We’re not talking about outside nature, but rather the nature of our students’ and how their minds work. After all, would you rather push a boulder up a hill or drop it down a hill? Exactly! It doesn’t make sense to fight nature.
After all, when you were a baby, or like me had babies, did language begin with letter sounds? No! It began with talking, singing, reading, etc. In fact, a recent study shows that talking to babies at 3 months influences cognitive development and helps the brain form categories(Warner)
So while you’re building a strong language foundation with your students, go ahead and use those same words to teach phonics! Now you may be thinking that little minds need little words, but that’s just not true. After all, you have to teach these words anyway, so why not reinforce important phonics skills with words you’re already using? Makes sense, right?
Take the word above, “scientist.” You can start your littles with the beginning “s” sound. There’s also the “en” word family or the “st” blend. All great choices! So take your scientific method vocabulary and use it to teach phonics.
In my morning meeting, my students paired up and took a few minutes to discuss the word scientist and what they thought a scientist did. Then we looked at the word on these Boom Cards, which I love! You can project the word on your smartboards and each card will walk you through the definition, clapping syllables, looking at phonemic features and finding the word in a sentence.
My students really learned how to analyze words because we did it every morning!
The greatest way to increase fluency is through music. There have been countless studies shown on how the rhythms in the songs connect so well to the rhythms that we speak, which gives our students a better understanding of how to use the language they’re learning.
Boom cards to the rescue again! These emergent readers real images that helped the children, especially my SPED and ESL students, to make better connections.
- It is in kid friendly language
- Has a fun song for kids to sing
- Has audio that sings so you don’t have to (although I highly recommend you do, but that’s for another time)
Project them on your Smartboard and sing together or use them in centers for independent learning. I liked following my morning meeting activities with this scientific method printable emergent reader. It was great for my guided reading groups. I used it for the first few minutes to review the -st blend.
Students can also use them in centers and highlight the words each day. I helped students to use the text to answer the questions and find the word of the day. I was amazed at how quickly my students began to notice the feature -st blend in scientist and add new words with the same phonetic feature, such as stand, stay, must, etc.
5 Literacy Elements to Rock Out Your Scientific Method Lessons
So there you have it. Use vocabulary and comprehension with a core of scientific method words. Teach phonics and phonemic awareness using those words. Increase fluency by putting it to music.
I loved doing concept-based instruction as part of my activities for morning meeting! I was able to teach the scientific method and incorporate the 5 literacy elements at the same time.
The best part was keeping my students’ attention and seeing how excited they got each morning. I loved hearing the discussions during pair share and how they learned these difficult concepts in a couple of weeks.
This is something we are very passionate about inside the Daily Concept Builders community and we want you to experience the BEST of concept-based instruction during your morning meeting activities. The good news…You can experience this literacy magic for yourself RIGHT NOW!
CLICK HERE to choose your theme and get started!
Have questions? We are here to answer them! This is really so simple when you break it down step-by-step. Email us anytime!
Have a fabulous week,
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