Reflection: Advanced Students Electron Configuration - Section 5: Application


As we begin to wrap up the first quarter and move to the second, I like to give the second quarter speech.

At this point in the year, I can recognize who in the class typically needs re-teaching and who in the class typically picks up the material at an above average rate. As a teacher, I know that I need to differentiate. Some students will need to extend their learning, while others will need additional support. So, this is the time of year that I address this. I begin by explaining to students that we all have different aptitudes, and that each of these can be developed further through effort. For example, I note that my wife is much better at assembling Ikea furniture than I am. What this means is that sometimes, to grow my brain, I do the assembly. It takes me longer, and I may need her help, but I get it done.

This is how I want class to feel going forward. There are going to be times when some students have clearly shown mastery for a daily learning target while other students will be still working toward mastery. The students who have demonstrated to me that they have shown mastery to me are now a valuable asset to the class because they can give the individual attention to students who need help. Because there is only one of me, it is often difficult to give each student in a large class all of the help they need. I can re-teach in small groups, but sometimes that is not practical because needs of the small group might be too diverse in terms of their starting point. By having a small cadre of teaching assistants, many more questions can be answered in a much more relaxed pace.

The students who are teaching assistants sometimes ask what is in it for them. I remind them that our Habits of Work grading system differentiate between a 3 and a 4 (meeting the target vs. being exemplary in the target) require leadership for a 4. Beyond the grade, however, lies a more important benefit.  Teaching about material that a student has just learned helps to use a different part of the brain and increases the depth of learning for the teacher.

Using this strategy is a great way to create a culture of learning in the classroom. Students learn to rely on each other. They create a classroom in which there is a lot to talk about. By working together, the learning environment feels vibrant, and it takes some of the pressure off of me to address every student concern.

  Everyone's a Teacher
  Advanced Students: Everyone's a Teacher
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Electron Configuration

Unit 3: The Atom
Lesson 6 of 7

Objective: Student will be able to describe how electrons are organized for the first 20 elements, and to identify and model valence electrons.

Big Idea: An atom’s electron configuration can be determined by knowing how many electrons are in the atom, and the order of electron filling. Valence electrons play a critical role in chemical bonding and can be represented with Lewis dots.

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