Key Concept Explorations

What are Key Concept Explorations?

Key Concept Explorations are used to teach and reinforce the students’ understanding of key concepts being learned. Students demonstrate their understanding of the concept by defining or describing it, by identifying its essential attributes or characteristics, and by providing examples illustrating what it is and is not.

Why Use It?

  • To help students organize their understanding about concepts.
  • To provide a structure for students to explain their understanding of a concept and provide examples illustrating what it is and is not.
  • To develop the skill of using appropriate vocabulary relevant to a concept.

How Do I use it?

  • Before using this strategy, introduce its purpose to the students and provide a structured example to teach and model expected behaviours.
  • Model the skill of using appropriate vocabulary to communicate with others about their understanding of a concept.
  • When modelling this strategy, create a list of words related to a concept that students are learning about in class; these words should describe the characteristics of the concept (see exemplars).
  • Have students group the words in the list by looking for those that have common characteristics.
  • Have students identify a word that represents the characteristics that these groupings have in common.
  • Discuss a plausible definition for this word (concept).
  • Analyse which characteristics are essential and non-essential to their definition.
  • Have students contribute examples of the concept from their experiences.
  • Provide an organizer for students to contribute their ideas (see exemplars).

Tips for Success

  • Provide provocations to have students think about what the words can be compared/contrasted with.
  • Provide time for students to refine their understanding and reflect on their learning.
  • Give students the opportunity to explain and elaborate on their ideas, organization of characteristics, and examples. 

INTERACT

Variations

  • Graphic organizers can be used to demonstrate understanding of the concept by defining or describing it, by identifying its essential attributes or characteristics, and by providing examples illustrating it and what it is not.
  • Students can draw a picture to represent the word or concept and its characteristics.
  • Post examples of students’ understanding of concepts in the classroom and continue to add their ideas as they investigate and explore these concepts further and develop a deeper understanding. 

Tools And Templates

Tools and templates students can use to organize their thinking about concepts related to investigations and explorations they are exploring.

View Key Concept Explorations templates and exemplars with paper and interactive whiteboard examples.

 

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