Concepts Supporting Skills

My math teachers in high school were predictable and terrific. They gave us vocabulary definitions for our notes, alternated between teacher explanation problems and student practice problems, showing us correct processes, and scheduled time for us to begin practice sets in class so we could ask questions. Why did this work so well for me?

  • Carefully chosen vocabulary
  • Scaffolded note-taking
  • Concrete application to paper-and-pencil tasks
  • Support as I began a problem set

These were honors level courses I was taking, designed to meet the needs of a subpopulation of students. My conceptual understanding deepened as I applied a central idea to a variety of homework problems. However, not every student learns any particular subject matter to the same degree with the same instructional approach.

This Chalkbeat Tennessee article describes a need for balancing out skill instruction with conceptual development. it describes how students at any elementary levels need concepts to precede skills. How does this change teaching?

  • Explore
  • Conjecture
  • Generalize our findings
  • Transfer key learning to skill development

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