Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Amazing Ivory Soap Bar - Section 3: Shape Vocabulary: Mass, Volume, and Density


Shape Vocabulary has been an extremely effective strategy for me over the last years in terms of developing conceptual understanding of scientific vocabulary.  Here are some of the major benefits:

1.  It's free!  So many science activities require materials and money, this doesn't!

2.  It's a filler that actually promotes learning.  Ever have a lesson that didn't go as planned?  Have extra time at the end of class that you don't know what to do with?  Or, finish one activity a little later than planned so you know you don't have time to start the next section of your lesson?  This is a great thing that can be done at moment on the fly.  And, it isn't ever a waste of time.  It will be valuable use of the time you "fill".

3.  It can be quick, long, or homework.  You can assign this as homework to be completed independently.  You can have each individual complete it or groups.  Length can also be changed by having each student or group present to the class. 

4.  Students connect to visual images.  In my experience, I have found that students remember the picture they drew for shape vocabulary way more than they ever would the words in a definition.  The adolescent brain connects to images and these images trigger their memory about vocabulary.

5.  It develops conceptual understanding; it's deeper thinking than memorization.  In their shape vocabulary, it always amazes me how the shape they write the word encompasses a deep understanding of concepts.  They often are in the shape of real world examples and tools for measurement.  And, the reasoning behind their decisions really shows that it causes students to think deeply about the word.

6.  Everyone has a change to apply it in their own way.  Strategies in which there is not one right answer are always more effective.  Every student, no matter their background, ability, or life experiences has the opportunity to apply the word to something that connects to their own life.  If students connect individually, retention of concepts goes up!

  Shape Vocabulary: Benefits
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Shape Vocabulary: Benefits
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Amazing Ivory Soap Bar

Unit 3: Physical Properties: Mass, Volume, and Density
Lesson 5 of 5

Objective: Students will be able to explain how adding and removing thermal energy affects the physical properties of a substance.

Big Idea: Students are amazed with what occurs when Ivory soap is placed in a microwave! And, students answer discussion questions that really challenge their conceptual understanding of density.

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11 teachers like this lesson
Science, physical properties, density, volume, middle school, mass, thermal energy
  75 minutes
ivory soap lesson
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