Reflection: Positive Reinforcement Balancing Chemical Reactions--Part 1 - Section 4: Independent Work


During my first couple of years of teaching, I was somewhat opposed to peer teaching.  I felt that it was my job to reach my struggling students and I did not want to "punish" high performing students by asking them to do what I thought was my job.  I have since come to really embrace the fundamental ideas behind peer teaching.  The reality is that high performing students want the recognition and enjoy the responsibility passed to them when they are asked to work with students who need help.  

Another reality is that I can not be everywhere at once to offer individual assistance to students who would benefit from one on one teaching.  That means that without using capable students to help fill that gap, many of my low-to-mid performing students would not get the help that benefits them.  My focus is usually on the lowest performing students who genuinely struggle to understand or my English Language Learners who have a language barrier.  There is a group of students who are not exactly poor performing, but who are just on the verge of slipping without the right support.  These are the perfect target students to benefit from peer assistance.

Building peer teaching and learning skills is crucial for success in college, when students will be forming study groups and will depend on each other for support.  

Two articles that articulate further benefits of peer teaching and learning can be found here:

  Why Peer Teaching?
  Positive Reinforcement: Why Peer Teaching?
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Balancing Chemical Reactions--Part 1

Unit 3: Chemical Reactions and Stoichiometry
Lesson 5 of 14

Objective: SWBAT balance simple chemical reaction equations using a charting method learned in class.

Big Idea: The numbers of atoms of each element on the left side of the chemical reaction equation must equal the numbers on the right side; Subscripts cannot be changed to balance.

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