In an effort to align an old VSEPR lesson to NGSS, I told my students that we were going to look at the data available from the real molecules on the pHET simulation we were using and specifically look for patterns. Finding patterns is a cross-cutting concept; one of the three dimensions of NGSS.
When describing abstract concepts like chemical bonding, it always seems to feel far too easy for both teachers and students to resort to the “wants” and “needs” of atoms. After all, we understand what it means to want, need, or like something, so it often feels appropriate (and easier) to use a relatable metaphor or subtly anthropomorphize these atoms to accommodate our students’ current reasoning abilities. While predicting the types of bonds that will form and the general idea behind how atoms bond can be answered correctly using such relatable phrases or ideas, the elephant in the room still in remains—do our students really understand why these atoms bond?
Card sorts are a great way to achieve a number of classroom objectives. They can be used as a review activity or they can be done during the middle of a lesson as a type of formative assessment. Sorts can encourage students to work with other students or can even be used as a type of exit ticket. I decided to use the strategy about two thirds of the way through a unit on covalent and ionic compounds and lewis structures. I knew there were items we did not cover in the sort but I was curious to see how they would approach these unknown topics.
In this blog post, I'll discuss how I've expanded my use of model kits within my chemistry class to help explore a variety of topics with my students.
One of the resources we have vetted is an interactive slideshow from PBS on both ionic and covalent bonds. Teachers using Modeling Instruction will find these resources elucidate a model of electron behavior which adds to the particle story of matter we have been telling throughout the year.
Chad Husting shares how he uses a "card sort" as a formative assessment covering bonding.