After working with a group of teachers today, I have realized the importance of teaching conceptually. It is so important for students to make deep thematic connections between and across texts, but they still struggle. Due to the demands of standardized testing, teachers have been driven away from concept-based instruction. When students learn in a conceptually-based classroom they are continually making connections between their learning and the concept. Students can increase their background knowledge and vocabulary as they discuss and read about the concept.
While most teachers know the benefits of concept-based instruction I have always struggled with how to teach conceptually in an English/Language Arts Classroom. I am not willing to force every student to read the same book and I believe heavily in a Readers’ Workshop model of instruction. I think that, when I have students read books around the same universal theme (such as family relationships), I am teaching conceptually. As a class we discuss the dynamics of family relationships as well as read and learn about characters and discuss their family relationships. Throughout this time in the classroom, the students will be learning about family relationships, reading, and learning to make deep thematic connections. However, is this conceptually-based instruction?