## ImagineIT - Phase 3

1. Identify Desired Results

Chemistry is the study of matter, its properties, and the change in which matter undergoes in chemical reactions. Most chemistry students learn this definition of chemistry during the first week of school so that they understand the class they will be studying all year. Also, a popular article is given to students to read and discuss called, “Why Do I Have to Study Chemistry?” by G. Kenneth Barker, Jr (published by the Journal of Chemical Education, October 2000). From the article and discussion, students begin to understand that chemistry is all around them, in their everyday lives. In my classroom, our conversations about most concepts revolve around how chemistry is part of their everyday lives.

From before their chemistry class begins, students already have made observations of their world around them. Chemists call this the macro (observational) level of thinking. What the student deems important or what information they decide to store in their growing brains is dependent on other factors. However, my job as a teacher is to take their knowledge and bring it to another level. My goal is to get my students to take the ordinary things around them and look at them in a different way. I always say to my students to change their way of thinking, look at a problem or concept through another perspective. The purpose of chemistry is to try and understand matter and how and why it behaves a certain way. Students are then tasked to make connections of chemistry concepts to the world around them. This allows for open discussion, references to helping them remember specific concepts, and in a way, gets the high school student ready for the expectations of higher education. One way that students can show understanding of concepts is to include a discussion section of lab write-ups or other activities in the chemistry classroom. I have narrowed my focus to density, as density is a concept that comes up in many of our chemistry topics.

2. Determine Acceptable Evidence (Performances of Understanding)

Because high school chemistry covers many topics, the Big Idea that I will present to my students will be an underlying theme that is constantly revisited in different ways throughout the entire school year. This first topic in my high school chemistry course is measurement. Most students understand the basics of measuring, so much of the focus will be on density. My plan is to focus on all six of the facets of understanding presented by Wiggins & McTighe.

Students already have a basic understanding that things that are dense, sink and things that less dense float. Students will be asked to describe what they already know, what they have observed, the macro level of thinking. I will ask students to keep a reflection journal (due to nature of available technology in our department, this journal will be done either at school or at home using Google Doc and shared with me). Each unit will begin with the question, “What do you already know?” Then, the concept will be presented, both by lecture and demonstration. I will ask my students to explain density of objects in terms of particles. This will bring the focus to the sub-micro (molecular) level of understanding. We will bridge the focus of density on elements and compounds. Students will use density to explain how elements and compounds differ. To prove this, I will have the students work with an animation program where they will research how the density of elements and compounds differ, and how this affects particles (which helps them to connect density to the property of matter and the changes which matter undergoes). Students will then present their findings in some creative way (cartoon, animation, story, poem, etc.). They will keep these in their journal. As we continue our journey of chemistry, students will revisit their journals and make connections to previous concepts. This introductory lesson will allow them to bridge the relationship of density to all concepts and events we will visit throughout the school year.

In terms of how students will be evaluated will be based upon their reflections. Students will continue to develop their understanding of looking at our chemistry concepts in a different way, focusing on how the very small things come together to create what we can see through the naked eye. Students will be given feedback on their reflections and presentations. I will ask for students to use this feedback and make changes. I expect students to keep building their understanding, so the evaluation will be “complete/incomplete”. I will also ask for students to share with each other, either in small groups or whole group, depending upon the topic. The feedback from their peers will also be part of the evaluation process. After all, in science, we do need peer feedback. The students will be asked to address the feedback, even if the feedback is not useful. In a way, this helps the students to understand that not all data is useful, but still needs to be addressed.

3. Plan Learning Experience and Instruction

Context: My students are mostly sophomores with a few freshmen who are taking Alpha Honors Chemistry at Lane Tech College Prep High School. My students are at the top of their academic class. The Alpha programs is rigorous program that is designed for students who want to study STEM, and they will be researching and experimenting for the city, region, and state science fairs. My classroom situation has changed; my classroom will be moving to a newly renovated chemistry laboratory. I was not part of the design process and can only imagine what my students will be walking into in a month. As far as technology is concerned, with a student body plus staff of 4500, available Chromebooks and Wi-Fi is limited. Due to the building being updated and the fact that 10 chemistry teachers share 4 chemistry labs, there will be a few disturbances here and there. However, our department has a good support system and most, if not all, teachers are willing to help each other out when needed.

Content: High school chemistry tends to be a little dry, yet scary for the young men and women who come through the door. It is the first time in their academic career that math and science are together in one course. While my students have the necessary skills, they tend to be set in their ways and have many misconceptions under their belt that need to be broken. Because they are higher achieving academically, some students are more stubborn than other to learn things a different way. If not done properly, they will not achieve as well as their peers who have an open mind. One example of this is getting them to slow down and show their work – prove how they got their answer. Our students are not used to doing this. Another challenge I see will be getting students to think philosophically about chemistry, which is necessary for us to focus on what we cannot see with our eyes.

Pedagogy: Before we begin, I will ask students what they already know about density in terms of mass, volume, and particles. I will give them a chance to journal in a Google Doc that will be shared with me. Then, we will discuss, recording words or phrases into a word cloud on the board (these will later be entered on Tagxedo or another word cloud app). Then, I will demonstrate density, in which I use three demonstrations that show how mass, volume, and particles affect density. I expect my students to be able to explain density in terms of mass and volume; however, I do want them to expand upon the idea of particles. As stated above, the focus of density will be on the sub-micro (molecular) level of understanding. We will start with the basics, then we will bridge the focus of density on elements and compounds. Students will use density to explain how elements and compounds differ.

Technology: To show understanding of density, students will have to do data manipulations and calculations. I will also have the students work with an animation program where they will research how the density of elements and compounds differ, and how this affects particles (which helps them to connect density to the property of matter and the changes which matter undergoes). Students will then present their findings in some creative way (cartoon, animation, story, poem, etc.). They will keep these in their electronic journal. Since particles will be part of the next few units, the concept of density will be referred to again. There will also be laboratory experiments in which students find the identity of an unknown metal based upon a list of metals (since some metals have similar densities) and based upon the properties of the periodic table, also called periodicity.

The Total PACKage: I am continuing to explore a few different chemistry simulation websites that will help aid in student understanding of the effect of particles on density. PhET, VisiChem, and Scootle are three that I will start with. My hope is that students will come up with an understanding that particles will affect mass and volume, which will affect the number of moles in a substance, which affects pressure of gases, etc. The idea of focusing on the particles (the very small), students will begin to understand a little better about why elements and compounds behave the way they do.

Teaching Demo / Focus Group: I am working on putting together an idea that will connect the idea of particles in substances to how density is used for molar mass, pressure, and atomic size. Since these concepts are stretched out through the whole school year, I will focus on molar mass first, as this is taught during the first semester. Pressure and atomic size (related to periodicity) is taught during the second semester. My goal is for students to be able to understand the relationship of density with these topics. Because of the two-units density has, most students get scared off by it. Once we get around the math applications, I expect students will establish a better understanding of the idea of density and why the particles are meaningful. How will this be implemented? My goal is for students to come up with relational understanding of particles to density. Can students construct explanations of complex situations involving particle relationships based on density? Will students be able to show they understand why density works the way it does? And finally, will students show how density is related to molar mass, pressure, and atomic size?

Addendum: The above design process was aided by the paper, “Understanding Density and Pressure: How Students’ Meaning-Making Impacts Their Transfer of Casual Modes” by Ritscher, et. al. of Harvard University, based upon the work of Understandings of Consequence Project, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. It was to be part of a collection of three chapters, but I cannot find the rest of the project. The link on the paper is inactive. Either way, the paper presents the idea of understanding density to middle school students. My idea is to take this to the high school level. Furthermore, if this is implemented in an effective way, I will bridge the idea of particles and density to energy. Energy can be a complex topic, which unfortunately comes at the end of the school year. I am hopeful that there will be time to discuss this.

Chemistry is the study of matter, its properties, and the change in which matter undergoes in chemical reactions. Most chemistry students learn this definition of chemistry during the first week of school so that they understand the class they will be studying all year. Also, a popular article is given to students to read and discuss called, “Why Do I Have to Study Chemistry?” by G. Kenneth Barker, Jr (published by the Journal of Chemical Education, October 2000). From the article and discussion, students begin to understand that chemistry is all around them, in their everyday lives. In my classroom, our conversations about most concepts revolve around how chemistry is part of their everyday lives.

From before their chemistry class begins, students already have made observations of their world around them. Chemists call this the macro (observational) level of thinking. What the student deems important or what information they decide to store in their growing brains is dependent on other factors. However, my job as a teacher is to take their knowledge and bring it to another level. My goal is to get my students to take the ordinary things around them and look at them in a different way. I always say to my students to change their way of thinking, look at a problem or concept through another perspective. The purpose of chemistry is to try and understand matter and how and why it behaves a certain way. Students are then tasked to make connections of chemistry concepts to the world around them. This allows for open discussion, references to helping them remember specific concepts, and in a way, gets the high school student ready for the expectations of higher education. One way that students can show understanding of concepts is to include a discussion section of lab write-ups or other activities in the chemistry classroom. I have narrowed my focus to density, as density is a concept that comes up in many of our chemistry topics.

2. Determine Acceptable Evidence (Performances of Understanding)

Because high school chemistry covers many topics, the Big Idea that I will present to my students will be an underlying theme that is constantly revisited in different ways throughout the entire school year. This first topic in my high school chemistry course is measurement. Most students understand the basics of measuring, so much of the focus will be on density. My plan is to focus on all six of the facets of understanding presented by Wiggins & McTighe.

Students already have a basic understanding that things that are dense, sink and things that less dense float. Students will be asked to describe what they already know, what they have observed, the macro level of thinking. I will ask students to keep a reflection journal (due to nature of available technology in our department, this journal will be done either at school or at home using Google Doc and shared with me). Each unit will begin with the question, “What do you already know?” Then, the concept will be presented, both by lecture and demonstration. I will ask my students to explain density of objects in terms of particles. This will bring the focus to the sub-micro (molecular) level of understanding. We will bridge the focus of density on elements and compounds. Students will use density to explain how elements and compounds differ. To prove this, I will have the students work with an animation program where they will research how the density of elements and compounds differ, and how this affects particles (which helps them to connect density to the property of matter and the changes which matter undergoes). Students will then present their findings in some creative way (cartoon, animation, story, poem, etc.). They will keep these in their journal. As we continue our journey of chemistry, students will revisit their journals and make connections to previous concepts. This introductory lesson will allow them to bridge the relationship of density to all concepts and events we will visit throughout the school year.

In terms of how students will be evaluated will be based upon their reflections. Students will continue to develop their understanding of looking at our chemistry concepts in a different way, focusing on how the very small things come together to create what we can see through the naked eye. Students will be given feedback on their reflections and presentations. I will ask for students to use this feedback and make changes. I expect students to keep building their understanding, so the evaluation will be “complete/incomplete”. I will also ask for students to share with each other, either in small groups or whole group, depending upon the topic. The feedback from their peers will also be part of the evaluation process. After all, in science, we do need peer feedback. The students will be asked to address the feedback, even if the feedback is not useful. In a way, this helps the students to understand that not all data is useful, but still needs to be addressed.

3. Plan Learning Experience and Instruction

Context: My students are mostly sophomores with a few freshmen who are taking Alpha Honors Chemistry at Lane Tech College Prep High School. My students are at the top of their academic class. The Alpha programs is rigorous program that is designed for students who want to study STEM, and they will be researching and experimenting for the city, region, and state science fairs. My classroom situation has changed; my classroom will be moving to a newly renovated chemistry laboratory. I was not part of the design process and can only imagine what my students will be walking into in a month. As far as technology is concerned, with a student body plus staff of 4500, available Chromebooks and Wi-Fi is limited. Due to the building being updated and the fact that 10 chemistry teachers share 4 chemistry labs, there will be a few disturbances here and there. However, our department has a good support system and most, if not all, teachers are willing to help each other out when needed.

Content: High school chemistry tends to be a little dry, yet scary for the young men and women who come through the door. It is the first time in their academic career that math and science are together in one course. While my students have the necessary skills, they tend to be set in their ways and have many misconceptions under their belt that need to be broken. Because they are higher achieving academically, some students are more stubborn than other to learn things a different way. If not done properly, they will not achieve as well as their peers who have an open mind. One example of this is getting them to slow down and show their work – prove how they got their answer. Our students are not used to doing this. Another challenge I see will be getting students to think philosophically about chemistry, which is necessary for us to focus on what we cannot see with our eyes.

Pedagogy: Before we begin, I will ask students what they already know about density in terms of mass, volume, and particles. I will give them a chance to journal in a Google Doc that will be shared with me. Then, we will discuss, recording words or phrases into a word cloud on the board (these will later be entered on Tagxedo or another word cloud app). Then, I will demonstrate density, in which I use three demonstrations that show how mass, volume, and particles affect density. I expect my students to be able to explain density in terms of mass and volume; however, I do want them to expand upon the idea of particles. As stated above, the focus of density will be on the sub-micro (molecular) level of understanding. We will start with the basics, then we will bridge the focus of density on elements and compounds. Students will use density to explain how elements and compounds differ.

Technology: To show understanding of density, students will have to do data manipulations and calculations. I will also have the students work with an animation program where they will research how the density of elements and compounds differ, and how this affects particles (which helps them to connect density to the property of matter and the changes which matter undergoes). Students will then present their findings in some creative way (cartoon, animation, story, poem, etc.). They will keep these in their electronic journal. Since particles will be part of the next few units, the concept of density will be referred to again. There will also be laboratory experiments in which students find the identity of an unknown metal based upon a list of metals (since some metals have similar densities) and based upon the properties of the periodic table, also called periodicity.

The Total PACKage: I am continuing to explore a few different chemistry simulation websites that will help aid in student understanding of the effect of particles on density. PhET, VisiChem, and Scootle are three that I will start with. My hope is that students will come up with an understanding that particles will affect mass and volume, which will affect the number of moles in a substance, which affects pressure of gases, etc. The idea of focusing on the particles (the very small), students will begin to understand a little better about why elements and compounds behave the way they do.

Teaching Demo / Focus Group: I am working on putting together an idea that will connect the idea of particles in substances to how density is used for molar mass, pressure, and atomic size. Since these concepts are stretched out through the whole school year, I will focus on molar mass first, as this is taught during the first semester. Pressure and atomic size (related to periodicity) is taught during the second semester. My goal is for students to be able to understand the relationship of density with these topics. Because of the two-units density has, most students get scared off by it. Once we get around the math applications, I expect students will establish a better understanding of the idea of density and why the particles are meaningful. How will this be implemented? My goal is for students to come up with relational understanding of particles to density. Can students construct explanations of complex situations involving particle relationships based on density? Will students be able to show they understand why density works the way it does? And finally, will students show how density is related to molar mass, pressure, and atomic size?

Addendum: The above design process was aided by the paper, “Understanding Density and Pressure: How Students’ Meaning-Making Impacts Their Transfer of Casual Modes” by Ritscher, et. al. of Harvard University, based upon the work of Understandings of Consequence Project, which is supported by the National Science Foundation. It was to be part of a collection of three chapters, but I cannot find the rest of the project. The link on the paper is inactive. Either way, the paper presents the idea of understanding density to middle school students. My idea is to take this to the high school level. Furthermore, if this is implemented in an effective way, I will bridge the idea of particles and density to energy. Energy can be a complex topic, which unfortunately comes at the end of the school year. I am hopeful that there will be time to discuss this.

*Works Cited:**Ritsheter, R., Lincoln, R., and Grotzer, T. (2003) Understanding Density and Pressure: How Students’ Meaning-Making Impacts Their Transfer of Casual Modes. Understandings of Consequence Project. National Science Foundation.**Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005) Professional Development Series: Understanding by Design, expanded 2nd Edition, ASCD.*