Reflection: Staircase of Complexity Decomposing Copper Sulfate Pentahydrate - Section 3: Students in Action


I really like the equation table. Students are making connections between visual literacy - what did they see, written literacy - expression in words and chemical literacy - how would a chemist express observations both in drawings and as an equation.

The equation table helps scaffold students to the complex representations of chemistry by allowing students first to express in terms they are already familiar with such as color and words.

It is important to provide students with hands-on opportunities in a chemistry unit. Students need to practice making observations, recording those observations and reflecting upon what they learned from the lesson. Middle school students especially are transitioning from concrete to abstract thinking. Hands-on lessons provide a concrete experience for students. Questioning and reflecting at the end of the lesson models for students how to describe what they observed in a more abstract way. For instance, students saw the decomposition in this lesson, then wrote out their observations as a chemical formula. The chemical formula would not have meaning for the students if they had not experienced the decomposition.

Chemistry lessons often require observations that students cannot make via virtual lessons or direct instruction. They cannot smell the substances or feel the subtle differences in viscosity for example. 


  Connecting Literacy
  Staircase of Complexity: Connecting Literacy
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Decomposing Copper Sulfate Pentahydrate

Unit 4: Chemistry
Lesson 3 of 7

Objective: SWBAT explain in terms of a chemist the decomposition of Copper Sulfate Pentahydrate

Big Idea: Explaining our observations when molecules decompose.

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