Conceptual lens allows a unit focus so that everything builds through that idea. Imagine them to be similar to a closet for their learning mind. Students take concepts down, draw from the prior knowledge and add new learnings to that concept. Throughout their K12 careers this set of concepts will become embellished as grade level adds layers of more sophisticated understanding. Using a conceptual lens allows students to have an opportunity to investigate a topic of interest using a focus/filter to get rid of all the extra "stuff".
Macroconcepts can be used across disciplines. Microconcepts tend to be focused on a particular content area...but they may be shared by a couple.
Workshop participants discussed how they could come up with concepts with about anything you want to do if you start with the activity. Historically this seems to be how lessons have been structured and while they have made learning gains, there is a much more effective way. Instead it is far better to start with standards and curriculum and look for the concepts that spring from there. Looking for macroconcepts/microconcepts from inside the standards or curriculum indicators...words that are in those which will guide teachers to understanding the purpose for their classroom activities.
One anticipated concern that participants raised was the anxiety teachers would feel as they did not know what to do with those units that they have always loved to teach but now may not fall within the parameters of conceptual instruction. Instead of asking them to immediately abandon them, it was suggested to ask them to suspend the judgment of those units until they have had a chance to examine them in light of the standards and benchmarks. Do the Topeka exercise. With this new understanding....then re-examine the usefulness of their tried and true favorite. Does it meet the Concept Definition Test? If so, then refine it. If not, file it until you teach that content in the future.