Monday, February 9, 2015

Modeling Molecules...Quickly

Timing is everything with teaching.  This week we got to the point in our curriculum when I usually model molecules using toothpicks and gumdrops.  However, the timing just wasn't right.  I needed something that helped students make meaning of the concepts with an emphasis on reading skills.  I knew the gumdrop activity, although a good one, was just not a good fit for getting MY kids to think about how molecules related to their everyday lives.   I decided instead to use short readings about a few common molecules along with some text-dependent questions.  To increase engagement, I used QR codes so that students could self-check their progress as they completed the short reading tasks.  If we didn't have another Periodic Table project in the works (and all the materials for that to consider), I probably would have added the gumdrop activity to each of the reading stations, but I knew my limits.  Let's face it, a happy teacher is a happy class.

 Here's what the gum-drop free molecule stations looked like in action:
Students checked their answers and searched for bonus information by scanning QR codes.

Each reading included a "take it further" type question where the students scanned a QR code to connect to a graph, chart or extension text to answer a bonus level question.

Students drew an example of each molecule from the readings after piecing together a puzzle.  It was a simple, but fun way to keep kids engaged as they work! 

Lots of movement, concise text, and some fun technology made this lesson work for my class.  I'm considering giving my students another day to revisit each station and build a model using candy or possibly play doh.  I guess it depends on whether the iPads are available for our Periodic Table project and what REALLY needs to get done before Winter break.  Do you ever feel like you could stay on the same topic for weeks going deeper and deeper instead of moving onto the next unit?  That's where I am right now.  Hmm...So it really is all about timing right?

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