Reflection: Accountability Dimensional Analysis - Section 4: Small Group Work


This lesson could easily be done as an individual assignment, with or even without making the conversion factor cards.  I choose to make this a group assignment and use the cards for a few reasons:

  1. Building a Cooperative Learning Environment
  2. Empowering Student Leaders
  3. Using Manipulatives to Aid Calculations

First, I use small groups for most of our activities.  Whether we are doing a lab investigation or making an educational video, I expect my students to work well together.  A cooperative learning environment helps students get support from their peers before seeking support from me, their instructor.  I am only one person, and in a class of 43 students, there is not nearly enough time for me to interact with each individual student on a one-on-one basis as I would like.  When students are working in small groups, they can help each other.  If the entire group needs support, then I can help and work with that entire small group (which is close to one-on-one, but addresses that particular need for 3-4 students at a time).

Second, it is imperative that students be allowed the capacity to grow as leaders.  We want our students to engage in their communities as they prepare to graduate and enter the working force (either after high school or college).  Without practicing how to correct their peers and work together on tasks, they will not have the skills necessary for success.  Students who explain their reasoning are also far more likely to remember their chemistry and will succeed in the class more often as well.  I also want to build independence in my students and giving them other options for acquiring help before coming to me for the "answer" allows students to grow self-confidence, especially in cases when I am not around to give the answers.

Last, when given the choice between using manipulatives and not, I will always try to incorporate some sort of manipulatives.  Even the process of creating the cards properly gives students the opportunity to practice changing equivalence statements into conversion factors, which then helps them remember how to do that when they simply have an equivalence chart in front of them and they are cooking trying to convert fluid ounces to tablespoons.

Even though this is a small group activity, there is individual accountability for each student.  The group makes and uses the conversion factor cards, but each individual goes through the process of showing his/her work and completing the dimensional analysis conversions.  

  Group Work & Demonstrating Understanding
  Accountability: Group Work & Demonstrating Understanding
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Dimensional Analysis

Unit 1: Atomic Structure & the Periodic Table
Lesson 3 of 6

Objective: SWBAT convert from one unit of measurement to another using conversion factors they create based on equivalence statements.

Big Idea: We can convert from one unit of measurement to another by using conversion factors.

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