Reflection: Continuous Assessment Philosopher Grudge Match - Section 2: Hook


There are many things to assess in the classroom, and this activity gives me the opportunity to assess three at once:

  • How do they work with their table group?
  • How do they respond to the challenge of grappling with uncertainty?
  • How well did they internalize the description of the atom from the day before as "the smallest unit of matter" that "makes up everything"?


I allowed students to choose their own tablemates on day one.  I do this deliberately to show faith in their ability to make good choices.  This also speeds up the students' acclimation to group work as they often know at least one of their tablemates.  Today that was evident as students were comfortable working with their friends, but not always with the whole table.  Now I know I need to build in some table-sized teambuilders.

This year's group of students seems to have a very fixed mindset and are unwilling to muddle around to find an answer.  Here I was able to prod some students with a "I know you can do this, you had such a good example yesterday" or other encouragement just to get them to engage the terms.  Here adding some groups for the student sorts is helpful, small suggestions like "try living and non-living" or "what is visible and invisible?" can help break the logjam and get them going again.

About 2 of 7 tables in each class went straight to the idea of atoms vs non-atomic terms, which was very encouraging.  Student misconceptions aligned with the predictions, including Fire and the various gases.  This set up our discussion of the four elements exceptionally well, as students immediately recognized the flaw in "Fire" as an element.

  It is Matter
  Continuous Assessment: It is Matter
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Philosopher Grudge Match

Unit 1: Atomic Structure
Lesson 3 of 10

Objective: SWBAT explain how new discoveries and technology influence scientific knowledge, including our knowledge of matter and models of the atom.

Big Idea: Exploring the understanding of the atom from Democritus to Dalton.

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four elements
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