“As teachers, we often notice that some children are naturally strong at conceptual thinking. These students make rich connections, share insightful comments and transfer understanding from one study to another with little to no teacher support. Our experiences with these students may lead us to believe that some children can think conceptually while others simply cannot. This is untrue; all students can be conceptual thinkers. If we want to develop classrooms where rich discussion and meaning-making take place, we need to reflect on how we build a culture of Concept-Based Inquiry. Such classroom spaces create high expectations for students, while simultaneously championing collaboration and supportive relationships.”

Carla Marschall and Rachel French (2018)

As a teacher, you will be equipped to teach in a way that facilitates deeper student understanding.

We sourced the globe collecting examples of best practice in Concept-Based Inquiry.

Delving more deeply into conceptual learning with such young children has proved to me how that we must have high expectations of what they are capable of. I have been impressed with the clear generalizations they have formed. In just a short amount of time, they are building conceptual understanding that they will be able to transfer to different situations.

Melanie Smith
Grade 2 Teacher
International School of Amsterdam


The Importance of Concept Formation

The Importance of Concept Formation

By Carla Marschall Recently I was sitting with my Grade 1 team, getting ready to plan their Body Systems unit with them. In previous years, the team felt they introduced too many systems to their 6-year-olds. As a result, the unit felt disjointed, a bit hodgepodge and was organized around
Toward Culturally Responsive Inquiry

Toward Culturally Responsive Inquiry

By Carla Marschall Our classrooms are diverse places. Not only do our students come from varying cultural and ethnic backgrounds, but have diverse home lives, experience sets and linguistic profiles. As inquiry teachers who look to help students make meaning in a study, we must recognize the importance of integrating


Give Thinking Back to Your Students

Give Thinking Back to Your Students

By Rachel French Published by Corwin Connect  I don’t know a single teacher who would intentionally set out to do the thinking for their students. Yet, that is exactly what happens when teachers begin lessons or units by sharing conceptual understandings before they have begun to explore factual content. Students
Build Student Agency Through Concept-Based Inquiry

Build Student Agency Through Concept-Based Inquiry

Blog Post by Carla Marschall Published by Corwin Connect  According to the World Economic Forum (2016), the top three skills required for work in 2020 are complex problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity. The traditional model of schooling, where students take a passive role in their learning, does not encourage the

I’m very passionate about a Concept-Based curriculum because I think there’s something in the agency it gives students through them seeing knowledge and understanding as something that they have control over. When you deal with knowledge at a surface level, and students are able to simply parrot it back to you, they’re just reproducing what it is that you’re teaching and they have no agency in that process. When they’re engaging deeply with underlying understandings and constructing them for themselves, they come out of that process with the deep empowerment that allows them to think creatively and engage creatively in new thinking circumstances.

Ian Tymms
Head of Middle School English
United World College Southeast Asia

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