Evidence and Practice
Concept-based instruction (also called Theme-based or Topic-based instruction) has emerged as a reaction to instruction based on isolated skills or knowledge. Put simply, it is about beginning learning from an idea. It can be in the form of a word, an inquiry question or a debatable statement. It is a way of connecting and then applying learning. Task-based or Problem-based instruction fall neatly underneath Concept-based instruction. For example, the concept might be 'Sustainability' and the task or problem might be how to develop a more sustainable food program. It forces the learner to ask why I'm learning this information? And what can I do with it? Focusing on concepts also makes it possible for multiple disciplines to contribute their perspectives which leads to deeper understanding and critical thinking.
Where does it come from?
Stoller (1997) has noted the strong empirical research supporting concept-based teaching
Krapp, Hidi & Renninger (1992) have noted the improvement in intrinsic motivation brought about by concept-based instruction.
Brown (2007) has advocated on the usefulness of concept-based instruction as a vehicle for the development of the second language learner's core skills
Redchenko (2016) has noted the power of interdisciplinary instruction of second languages in keeping content current and helping students make more connections to their own cultural and linguistic knowledge (eg: through music, theatre, maths and science fields)
Example in Practice
This is a unit of work under the theme ‘Global Terrorism’. Through this topic students covered history, geography and politics curriculum from ancient to modern periods. They attended an excursion to the local mosque and had guest speakers with personal experiences of terrorism. It is now an ongoing subject at this school.
How do we assess interdisciplinary learning?
Griffin's (2014) Assessment for Teaching provides an excellent model for formative and summative assessment which breaks skills and knowledge down into a developmental continuum. The Guttman spreadsheet then assists in tracking and planning learning around student progress.
Restorative School Culture
What is it?
Restorative practice emphasises ‘the inherent worth of all people, the belief that humans are profoundly relational’ -(Vandeering 2014, 64)
The concept of Restorative Teaching put most simply, is that we leverage our good relationships with students to teach behaviour rather an simply manage it. We explicitly teach and develop socio-emotional intelligence. In order for this to work we need to believe that every student can be taught empathy and ways of building and maintaining good relationships with peers and adults. We as adults are expected to take the lead in modelling good behaviour rather than demanding it. When issues arise, the focus is always on what harm that has been caused to people (or at a more advanced level: the environment or the community) and what steps can be taken to repair that harm.
Where does it come from?
The tenants of Restorative Practice came from a radical new way of working in the American prison system. Because of its astounding success it has been adapted to schools with theorists like McCluskey (2008), Rideout (2010) and Vandeering (2014) attempting to refine it and evaluate its implementation. Together they recognise the challenge of working restoratively in a system that is still designed around a controlling and punitive model of education. However they've identified that schools who work from the bottom up, provide effective training, are self-critical, and develop a common language, have seen measurable success