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The Best Way to Incorporate More Concept Development in Your Lessons

10 Aug 2022 by Sherilyn Crump

As you know, CLASS® is a tool that captures teacher-student interactions. When it comes to the dimension Concept Development, the focus is on the method the teacher uses to provide instruction in the classroom. While the interactions are what get measured with CLASS, as a teacher you can plan for Concept Development to be more intentionally woven  throughout your lessons.

Let’s look closer at how to do this.

Planning with Concept Development In Mind

When planning for Concept Development, it's helpful to list out the indicators of the dimension on a supplemental lesson plan sheet. You can find these indicators in your Dimensions Guide.

Create one plan for each interest area currently present in your classroom, as well as one for each major component of your day, such as: small groups, whole group, snacks, and meals. 

For instance, I may have a small group planned called “Comparing Size.” My materials for the activity are three picture cards—one is a small tennis ball, one is a soccer ball, and the last one is a beach ball. The guidance provided in my curriculum book may say something like this:

  1. Display pictures of the balls. Ask which is biggest, and which is smallest.
  2. Next, place the cards in order by size. Point to them and label small, medium, large.
  3. Then, have children compare sizes of other sets of three objects.

There are some hints of comparison in here, but we can take this same activity and brainstorm ways to make it go a little deeper in Concept Development:

Activity: “Comparing Sizes”

What to Say

Analysis and Reasoning

Think: What thought-provoking and open-ended questions can I ask instead of questions more rote in nature?

  • “I have three pictures here. How are these pictures the same? How are they different?”
  • “How else could we figure out if things are small, or medium, or large?”


Think: How can I get the children to brainstorm and come up with their own ideas?

  • “I have three cards here with pictures on them. What could I do with these cards?”
  • “I see there are many other objects on the table. What could we do with these objects?”


Think: What else have we done recently in the classroom that relates to this activity?

  • “This is reminding me of yesterday’s story, The Three Bears! Why is it reminding me of that story?”
  • “What other things do we have in our room that are small, medium, and large?”
  • “The mixing bowls in our house are small, medium, and large.”
  • “The measuring spoons that we used to make playdough yesterday fit inside of each other too—there was a big tablespoon, a medium teaspoon, and a small ½ teaspoon.”

Connections to the Real World

Think: Can I connect this activity to something in their lives outside the classroom?

  • “What things do we have at our houses/parks/stores that are small, and medium, and large?”

This lesson-planning strategy is just a first step, of course. The most important part is engaging the students in the activity using your strategies on the lesson-planning sheet.

Hopefully, you will find this small example of a structure that supports the process is helpful. Remember, Concept Development is not something you are either “good at” or “bad at,” but rather, a learning process for grown-ups too. Improving takes planning and practice.

If you try this strategy out, you may discover it gets easier over time to analyze the activities you have planned, and embed more Concept Development into them.

BONUS MATERIAL: Click here to download a free, blank Concept Development lesson plan.

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