Science 9 – Lots of head nodding by students, lots of correct answers on practice sheets, but it’s obvious that many students have a tenuous grasp on the topic. This is the part of matter/chemistry where students start to get confused and a bit lost.
Science 9 – Students started learning how to do draw Bohr Diagrams today. When doing them for ions, the students sometimes get confused on calculating the correct number of electrons. I broke out my Math Cubes to help with this, and they quickly help students get past this hurdle. They place down the number of cubes = # of protons and then pair them off with electrons (a different colour of cube) until the number of extra cubes is equal to the ion charge. Even writing this, it sounds a bit weird or strange, but actually doing it makes the visual representation really clear.
Science 9 Today’s class first did a quiz on Bohr diagrams and then we delved a bit deeper into ions. I showed the above graphic to the class and asked them to Notice and Wonder. This led to a conversation on how the valence shell for each ion was full, and why this might be. This in turn answered their question about the process of atom -> ion -> ionic bond.
The quiz before this was a bit strange. Not many students mastered the learning objectives. I was a bit surprised because I’ve been trying to really have the students reflect on their learning. I’ve been pretty good at asking them to update their journals and I’ve also been giving them time to summarize their learning and providing links to their overarching Essential Questions. “Asking” is the key here. With 180 students, I’m not exactly checking up on everyone’s journals. That would be a fairly impossible task. So even though I prompt for journal writing, I have some doubts on how many kids are doing this task authentically.
In Science 9, I had students read through their textbooks about the evolution of Atomic Theory. They each then had the option of completing textbook questions, workbook questions, or creating a Concept Map. Once I checked over their work, they moved on to an assignment/learning objective that would be assessed. The idea was for kids to complete a story using the characters Dalton, Thompson, Rutherford and Bohr. Most kids opted to do a cartoon, and the one above was done quite well.
I was pretty surprised by the cartoons I received. Most seemed to have missed the main points of Atomic Theory. While all the kids could answer questions about each theory/model, when the students were left to create their own dialogue they could not identify the significance of the models. For example, many kids said that Bohr’s idea was that the electrons were outside and not orbiting. Others weren’t able to communicate the idea that there was a steady progression of ideas.
In Grade 9 science I decided to give students different options for learning a topic on atomic theory. They could either read through some of the textbook and answer chapter questions, they could go through their workbook, or they could use the textbook and some library books and put together a concept map.
Once this task was finished, I checked each student’s work and asked them a few questions. That was the formative assessment part of the lesson. Once everything was good, each student had an assessment activity to complete. For this, they had to do a cartoon, play or short story which features Dalton, Thomson, Rutherford and Bohr, discussing their theories. The idea was that by creating a dialogue, the students would have to synthesize their new knowledge into their own words, rather than copy sentences from another text.
I’ll see how the assessment goes. In the meantime, check out the concept map posted above. That was done by a student who says he’d never done one before. I gave him only minimal instruction on concept mapping and had shown him a few exemplars. I’m super impressed!