In this final lesson of the unit students are tasked with reviewing for an upcoming acid-base test. Their activities include working on a practice test, getting help from the teacher, and each other, and playing acid-base Jeopardy.
This lesson aligns to the NGSS Practices of the Scientist of Using mathematics and computational thinking because much of the study guide has a mathematical component to it. It also aligns to the practice of Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information because at this point in the unit students are processing and synthesizing the information they have been working with throughout the unit.
It aligns to the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Structure and Function because students are coming to an understanding of the properties of acids and bases by studying their molecular substructures.
Some of this lesson also aligns to the HS-PS1-7: Use mathematical representations to support the claim that atoms, and therefore mass, are conserved during a chemical reaction because students must use a balanced chemical equation in order to calculate the molarity correctly and show how neutralization reactions work.
In terms of prior knowledge or skills, students should be well along in their understanding of acids and bases by this point.
There are no special materials needed for this lesson, but having access to multiple computers for the Jeopardy game was quite useful in my classroom. Alternatively, the whole class could play, but this creates its own challenges in terms of to what extent each student is participating.
Do Now: To start class I ask students to do one of two things, depending on how ready for class they are. If they have completed the Acid Base Practice Test, I ask them to find a partner and compare answers. If they have not completed the practice test, I ask them to continue working on it. I reason this is a good way to start class because it will launch students into the learning activity for today, which is to prepare for the upcoming acid-base test.
During this time I walk around and observe how well students have prepared for the exam. I learn that some students need to still buckle down and work on the practice test, while others are ready for other learning activities that will help them prepare for the test.
Mini-lesson: The mini-lesson today is quite short because this is a student-directed class. I do not teach content today; rather, I make sure that I articulate clear expectations for what is happening in class today.
I start by reminding students that their test is coming up and today is designed for students to work on clarifying things that have confused them throughout the unit. I explain that students should first finish the practice test. When they have finished they need to show me the completed practice test and I will give them the answer key. They will check their work and then tell me how they did. If they did well, I ask them to sign out a laptop and download the Jeopardy game from my website. If they do not do well I ask them to review their work with the goal of understanding why they got certain questions wrong. I also note that I am available for conferencing throughout the class.
To check for understanding I then ask a student to summarize for the class what the chain of events will be in today's class.
Student Activity: Once I am satisfied that students understand my expectations for today’s class, I invite them to get to work. Several students approach me for the Acid Base Practice Test Answer Key. I briefly check their work for completeness and distribute the answer key to them, checking their names off on checklist so I can keep track of who is making progress on the day’s agenda.
Other students are busy working on the practice test. Once everyone has an initial task, I check in with the whole class to let them know that I am available for individual questions. This individual conference is a good example of what this looks like.
As members of the initial group of students check in with me about their work, I check in with them about how they did and listen to their explanations for questions they got incorrect. I then authorize them to sign out a laptop once they have shown proficiency with the practice test so that they can play Acid base Jeopardy. Students play this game in groups of 2-3. I keep a small stash of candy on hand so that students can compete for it during the game, making it just a bit more lively.
The Jeopardy game is a fun way to review material. The template I use is downloaded from this website. Some tips on making the game work: to get back to the home screen, click the bottom right-hand corner of the slide. Do not save the program while you are playing it, and that way the squares on the home screen will be the correct color based on whether the question has been asked.
I have structured my class this way because I do not think review sessions should be passive events. I think students should be actively working to advance their thinking, and they can do that best by engaging in activities that force them to think.
Catch and Release Opportunities: About half way through the class I report that about half the students have completed the practice test, and that several more students are almost ready for the answer key, such as the owner of this student work. I do this to show that there is momentum in the room, and this can be encouraging for students. Most students want to feel like they have accomplished something, and reminding them of the flow of events helps them fulfill this desire.
To wrap this lesson up I report out our final numbers. Ninety percent of students have completed the study guide. I note that this is a good start. However, I also note that completing the study guide is not the goal. The goal is to be able to take a test similar to the study guide with no notes or help from others.
Toward this latter goal, I ask that students look over the practice test for homework and identify things that they are struggling with. I ask them to identify things they need to remember for the test, and use flash cards or some other device to commit those things to memory.