Reflection: Rigor Boiling and Freezing Points Lesson 2: Oh Boil, the Pressure! - Section 5: Oh Boil the Pressure Group Discussion


For deep discourse, the questions you ask the students to discuss are just as important as the way the students respond.  It is important to vary your questions from the questions in the lab document.  To truly see if your students can participate in discourse, the questions need to force them to apply what they know to a new idea or situation.  Questions that lead students to discuss common misconceptions are even more effective.

For example, if I had simply asked the students, "How does pressure affect boiling points?", students could look in the text and simply repeat a definition.  However, when I ask the students to discuss, "When the pressure decreased and the water boiled, did the temperature in the syringe increase?", students are asked to apply how temperature, pressure and boiling points all work together.  Moreover, I know from experience that this is a question that middle school students have a misconception about.  Students have this idea that boiling means hot.  In their minds, if something is boiling, the temperature increased.  This discussion is a turning point in their learning.  When students discuss this, they are able to hear varying viewpoints and find the flaws in their thinking.  The "ah ha!" moment that they have is very valuable.

As a teacher, there can be times that you don't want kids to answer a question incorrectly.  But, please trust in the fact that it is ok.  In fact, it is necessary for students to change their own misconceptions.  Early in my teaching career, if I knew I was going to ask my students to discuss this challenging question, I would have talked to students ahead of time or even to the whole class, prepping them for the right response.  Over my teaching career, I have realized, that in my attempt to prevent them from being wrong, I have prevented them from thinking.

When designing group discussion questions, don't prep students, let them discuss topics that they are "interacting" with for the first time.  The learning that takes place in the discussions will increase.

  Group Discussion: Give them something to think about!
  Rigor: Group Discussion: Give them something to think about!
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Boiling and Freezing Points Lesson 2: Oh Boil, the Pressure!

Unit 4: Physical Properties: Molecular Arrangement and Phase Changes
Lesson 11 of 12

Objective: The students will be able to explain how solutes and pressure affect the boiling/freezing points of liquids. The students will also be able to describe the energy transfer that occurs during phase changes.

Big Idea: These lessons have text strategies, writing instruction, discussion techniques, and science content! Students blow up a bag with butane, make water boil at 50 degrees, and make water freeze instantaneously as they explore physical properties!

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Science, boiling point (Chemistry), Solute, Mixtures and Solutions, dissolving, freezing point (Mixtures and Solutions), Freezing, boiling, Matter and its Properties, Polymer / Industrial / Environmental Chemistry, Boiling Points, physical properties, middle school, endothermic, exothermic, pressure, discussions, discourse, evaporation, Scientific Literacy, molecule
  95 minutes
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