Modeling Instruction in Chemistry
Updated: Apr 29
Teaching chemistry from a Modeling perspective was a fantastic experience for me. I particularly loved how seamlessly chemistry and physics were intertwined. At my school, physics is taught before chemistry, so I can prepare students with skills and foreshadow critical chemistry ideas in the physics course. In chemistry, I can take full advantage of the students' robust concepts of mass, force, energy, and electrostatics. Join the American Modeling Teachers Association for full chemistry curriculum materials, teacher's notes, labs, and assessments.
Here are a few resources that I have adapted or created for my implementation of Modeling Chemistry.
Chemistry Course Outline - This is the Modeling Chemistry course outline with the addition of a list of key labs. If you've not explored modeling chemistry, this is an excellent document to give you an overview of the development of the storyline that unifies all of the ideas of chemistry. The course starts from things easily observed and interpreted in terms of simple particle models of matter. As more complex phenomena are observed, the models grow in complexity as needed to provide an interpretation of the phenomena.
Chemistry Calendar - Here is how I navigated the school year, showing the timing for class activities, labs, and assessments. Your timings may vary significantly based on your students' backgrounds, contact time, and so on.
Chemistry Standards - These are the standards I used during my first and only opportunity at standards-based grading in Modeling chemistry. I started from bgoeckner's blog at https://sciencewithoutspectators.wordpress.com and then modified her Modeling chemistry standards to suit me. I would modify my modifications further before taking another run at it, but I thought that it made a pretty good first attempt.
Unit 1 Density Lab Assessment - I first gave the students a density practice quiz in which I described the steps in making a series of measurements of mass and volume. From the given information, students are to make the calculations necessary to create a graph and interpret it to determine the density of a mystery metal. I had to think carefully and do a bunch of calculations in order to write the problem, and I thought that I should make the students do the same kind of thinking I did.
To assess student understanding of density, I turned the activity around. Given the density of a particular metal, work the problem backwards in order to make up a set of reasonable "measurements" and write out the steps needed to make those measurements. It's pretty easy to make your own variations of "doing the lab backwards" questions, and they really challenge the students.
Why physics should be taught before chemistry, a poster presentation prepared for the American Association of Physics Teachers.