Adelle Burgos

Dr. Beeson

EDUC 616

25 July, 2015

Scope and Sequence Reflection

A major benefit of identifying a “Big Idea” or concept for a unit of instruction is that

classifying a topic of study under an explicit “Big Idea” can help students begin to conceptualize

the material. For instance, in my own Scope and Sequence Graphic organizer, I classified the unit

of study concerning atoms and balancing chemical equations under the “Big Idea” of building

blocks unifying to compose larger systems. Though at first blush, the unpacked standards that

must be taught in this unit may seem a collection of only tangentially related topics, if they are

reframed as all fitting under the larger idea, the organization of the material can seem more

cohesive and more intuitive to students.

Identifying a “Big Idea” also facilitates integration of other content areas into the

instruction of each individual area and also facilitates the thematic alignment of a diversity of

content areas. It would stand to reason that a social studies teacher might never mention atoms or

equations at all in his or her classroom, but by contextualizing these science-specific concepts as

portions of a larger idea, a social studies teacher would be more likely to identify how something

within his or her own content area is also relevant to the larger idea. Being able to align standards

pertaining to different disciplines under the banner of a “Big Idea” is a worthwhile pursuit as, if a

team of teachers were to build their units of instruction around a main idea, students would have

the “Big Idea” reinforced to them constantly thereby increasing the potential for students to truly

internalize the information. As long as the standards can be expanded into a “Big Idea” so
ubiquitous to all disciplines that it can authentically be explored in any subject, student

understanding and retention will benefit by the variety of connections drawn to the material and

among the different subject areas.

Using a “Big Idea” can also help educators accomplish two cognitive processes which are

key to cementing students’ mastery of a standard; that of reactivating knowledge about the topic

at hand and helping students transfer their knowledge from year to year. By introducing a given

unit as an extension of a “Big Idea,” educators can then access content that the student has been

presented with in past years and evince the connection between this pre-existing knowledge and

the unit to be taught presently. Reminding students of the familiarity they may already have with

a subject allows students to better organize new information within schemas that they have

already had the chance to build upon. Furthermore, establishing this connection between

previously learned material and new material also helps support the development of transferrable

skills that students can take with them throughout the rest of their education. Illustrating how a

given unit will be revisited in different iterations as the students move grade levels can help

increase student engagement as these connections would highlight the importance of mastering

the current, since the student should expect to revisit in grades to come.

Gifted students especially can benefit from the effort to create horizontal and vertical

connections when developing a unit, since gifted students are commonly possessed of several

traits that are best served through aligning content material. Gifted students, for instance, often

have an advanced ability to comprehend non-concrete material, making them ideal recipients of

aligned instruction since many of the connections made under a “Big Idea” are not literal, but

abstract. Gifted students are also known for finding enjoyment in making connections, attesting

to how well an aligned curriculum might serve the needs of advanced learners with its focus on
creating authentic connections between different subjects. Organizing instructional design under

a “Big Idea” allows educators to model the seeking of connections to increase the potential for

learning for all students, not just our gifted students. In doing so, it provides a ready means of

differentiation as gifted students might be directed to investigate the thematic connections

between subjects or even allowed to create their own, providing gifted students with the

opportunity to conduct their own research and construct their own understanding of material and

its interrelatedness.

Therefore, exploring a “Big Idea” across the span of multiple disciplines and at different

levels of complexity is an engaging way for educators to present the material, an intuitive way

for all learners to organize the information, and a fulfilling way to meet the needs of our gifted