Conceptualising by naming

What? One of the eight Knowledge Processes of Learning by Design. Conceptualising by naming is a foundational building block for learning. It introduces students to the names of things, ideas and concepts which they need in order to identify, think about, discuss, work with, or analyse a particular topic. This Knowledge Process involves students in developing an understanding of the words and language with which to engage with and talk about a topic.

Why? This Knowledge Process can best be understood by its absence – without Conceptualising by naming students do not have the language to engage with a topic; this means they are unlikely to be interested in any theories that rely on those concepts; and they are unlikely to feel a sense of belonging in the learning particularly if the concepts have been introduced or unfolded in ways which are not connected to their lifeworlds or experiences – existing or new. Imagine the frustration of being unable to speak about something, not having the language to articulate what or how you feel, or to join with others in a discussion. To be excluded from Conceptualising by naming – to leave it out or handle it poorly – is to increase the likelihood that some students will be alienated from the learning or left behind.

How? Given the importance of this Knowledge Process as a foundational base from which to build, some thought needs to be given to choice of tactic. The Think-Pair-Share activity can be adapted for use in a number of knowledge processes and works particularly well when used as a Conceptualising by naming tool. Think-Pair-Share is one of many inclusive tactics that build social and productive working relationships in a collaborative classroom setting. It allows students to think about a question or idea individually and to share their thoughts with a partner before further discussion occurs in small groups. A Think-Pair-Share ensures that all students are involved in the learning and are contributing their ideas – working in pairs helps them to become more articulate and build confidence when speaking in larger group settings. The approach also allows the teacher to move around the room and unobtrusively listen-in to the discussions to check on understanding. The concepts identified and named via this collaborative process can be added to as students are introduced to related or more sophisticated ideas. These concepts and ideas can be used as the basis for further discussion and analysis, or connected to earlier lifeworld or classroom experiences.

More information on Think-Pair-Share can be found here:

See the Lanyon Tool-kit for additional Conceptualising by naming tools, tactics and references that contribute to deep learning.


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