Reflection: Accountability Electrons: Where they Live and How they Act - Section 3: Mini-lesson and Guided Practice

One of my students’ early critiques of my class is “This is not a math class.” My reply is that you cannot do science without doing math. Math, I note, is the language of science. After a few weeks students start to accept that we will be doing math in the science classroom. Of course, unlike some math classes, the math is always contextualized and embedded in a practical application. In this lesson, going from a color to being able to describe the underlying physical measurements of the light is that context. The challenge of teaching math in the science class is that sometimes students are not prepared with the basic underlying math skills that I would assume 11th graders would possess. What this means is that some students quickly master what I am teaching while others languish and begin to get frustrated.

How I respond to this is very important. Here is what I have found works. First, make sure that I fully understand the places where students are likely to get stuck. I then need to make sure I have a way to articulate the student challenge and a solution to that challenge. Once I am firmly rooted in how to teach the content, I teach it, and I look for allies. Who can help the class move forward by being a tutor? Those students who have shown mastery can walk around and answer questions as well as or not better than I can. The one thing I always emphasize is that math is like any skill—it requires some patience and practice to master, and going through this process is one way that my students will end the year smarter than they began it.

Math is the Language of Science
Accountability: Math is the Language of Science

Electrons: Where they Live and How they Act

Unit 3: The Atom
Lesson 4 of 7

Big Idea: Electron configuration describes where electrons are located. The speed of light formula helps explain what happens when electrons go from the ground state to the excited state.

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60 minutes

Keith Wright

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