An Example: A Concept-Based Unit in Geography
The topic Geography of Food involves the macroconcept of systems, which is appropriate because the topic involves elements of a system—there are inputs, processes and outputs. This concept of systems is reinforced throughout the units in Geography of Food (Green Revolution, high-tech farms in Singapore).
One intradisciplinary concept-based unit developed, intended for Year One learners, is entitled “Is There Enough Food for Everyone?” and it involves the main concept of food security. Sub-concepts which are involved in this unit also appear in other topics in geography.
Critical Content and Key Skills
It should be noted that in the design of a concept-based unit, teachers should bear in mind the important role that critical content and key skills play. Critical content includes fact-based topics that are part of the requirements in the syllabus, but instead of being the end in mind, critical content serves as a tool for understanding essential understandings and generalisations. The fact is, in order for learners to be able to handle the macroconcept adeptly, they must know the factual content and micro-concepts well.
For this unit, basic content such as the differences between the levels of food consumption in developed and less-developed countries and the reasons for these patterns, factors affecting the intensity of food production, developments in food production and benefits and threats to new technology, is covered. The key to the concept-based unit is the use of concept-based strategies to synthesise all this content for the learners.