Step 6: Generalizations:

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  • One of the most critical elements of a concept-based unit and concept-based instruction is the generalization. Remember, a generalization is a statement of understanding that reflects the relationship between two or more concepts formed by making inferences from the study of specific factual cases of a particular phenomenon.

    The unpacking documents are a great place to start, as there are corresponding generalizations for each clarifying objective. When you begin to craft your own generalizations, based on your local context, here are some guidelines to consider.

  • Examples of Generalizations
    • War may alter the physical and human geography of a place.
    • Leadership may change the course of war.
    • Nations often go to war to protect their political and economic interests.
    • Governments often work to serve the needs of the people in a community.
    • The physical environment of a region may be altered due to limited resources and human environment interaction.
  • NON-Examples of Generalizations:
    • What does it mean to be a good citizen? (Generalizations are not essential questions.)
    • I can define the mercantile system. (Generalizations are not “I can statements” nor do generalizations include specific content.)
    • The United States joined World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. (Generalizations do not include proper nouns; verbs are always in the present tense since the generalization is timeless.)
    • Leadership creates a civilization’s laws. (This in not an absolute truth and needs a qualifier.)

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  • As you write generalizations for your unit, ask yourself the following questions:
    • What are the big ideas that students will be able to transfer to other lessons, units, grade levels, and courses?
    • What relationships exist among the concepts on the concept/content web for which students can develop statements of conceptual understanding?

  • Guidelines to remember:
    • 5 to 12 generalizations per unit, depending on content and grade level.
    • Every concept in the concept/content web should appear in a generalization.
    • Students should arrive at the generalizations inductively rather than being told.
    • Avoid value statements.
    • No proper nouns or pronouns.
    • Use a present tense verb.
    • When possible, avoid level 1 verbs such as influence, impact, affect, is, are have
    • Show a relationship between at least two concepts.
    • Transferable idea that is supported by factual content.
    • Uses a qualifier (often, can, may) if applicable
    • Connect concepts between strands if possible

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Practice creating your own generalizations by first deciding on a factual topic that you would teach as a part of a unit and selecting two to three (depending on your unit) clarifying objectives that would support that topic. Secondly, decide on several concepts (explicitly stated in the clarifying objectives you have chosen or implied). Thirdly, (once you have chosen the concepts you want to use) begin crafting the conceptual relationship you want students to understand as they study the topic by connecting those concepts in an abstract statement.

Using the concepts from the concept/content web, begin to use the identified concepts to create your generalizations. The web was a brainstorming resource; some concepts in the original web may be dropped or added as you go through the process of creating the generalizations for your unit. Upon completion of the generalization you intend to include, be sure that the concepts in the web exactly match the concepts you have used in your generalizations.

  • 7.G.1.1: Explain how environmental conditions and human response to those conditions influence modern societies and regions (e.g., natural barriers, scarcity of resources and factors that influence settlement).Using your concept/content web and the level 2 and 3 verbs provided in the resource section, create your generalizations for your unit.
    • For the objective provided above, respond to each of the following:
      • What are the stated concepts you see in the objective?
      • What are some other concepts that you could teach from this objective? (implied concepts)
      • From the concepts that you just identified,and using the guidelines described in the previous section, craft at least one generalization connected to the standard.

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