Reaching Every Student

Meeting the needs of ALL students

Connecting Concepts

I first heard about Marcia Tate in my first semester at the University of Lethbridge in my Curriculum and Instruction class. Her work “Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites” was presented to us as a class to challenge us as pre-service teachers to design innovative lessons that engage our students and allow them to make connections to their learning. In my lessons, I strive to provide students with authentic learning opportunities, which allow them to form analogies, draw conclusions or create connections to their own life/things that they can relate to. This helps students to understand concepts, rather than just remember them.

QR Code Scavenger Hunt

Instagram PhotoThis activity was designed to teach the students about the various organelles in plant and animal cells, their function and an analogy for each organelle. Eleven organelles were used and nine teams were made; each team had a different starting point and all teams ended at the same point (the teacher aka. the ribosomes because we synthesize their learning). The teams needed to scan their first QR code, which was given to them on their sheet. Once they had read their clue and determined the organelle described, they needed to figure out what structure in the school would best represent that organelle. At each analogy, 9 QR codes were posted. Students scanned the QR code that corresponded with their colour to get their next clue! Below I have attached the locations around the school that we used to represent each organelle as well as a sample worksheet.

Group One QR Scavenger Hunt worksheet

QR Organelle Analogy Scavenger Hunt Location Solutions

Parts Wanted

To help students make connections to the structure and functions of the various organelles in the cell, students were given an organelle and asked to make a job application for it.

Parts Wanted Exemplar
Parts Wanted Exemplar

Cookie Cell Activity

Cookie CellsThis activity was again designed to help students learn the various organelles in plant and animal cells and their functions. Each student used a cookie, pie or cake and candy to build their very own cell. After building the cell, students needed to explain their candy choices and answer questions about various organelles, their function and an analogy to go with it.

FNMI Connection

Science 10 students were asked to research a chemical that First Nations people used. The purpose of this assignment was for students to develop a sense of respect for the First Nations people and an understanding that the First Nations made effective use of resources that come from the land. Students were asked to discuss what the chemical was, where the chemical originated from, who used it and what it was used for.

FNMI Connection Exemplar
FNMI Connection Exemplar

Flame Colour Demo

As an introduction to the chemistry unit, I began our first class with a flame colour demonstration. I dissolved CuCl2, NiCl2, LiCl, KCl, SrCl2 and CaCl2 in methanol. I placed each solution into a crucible and let the students watch them burn.

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Atomic Theory

In class today we studied the atomic theories proposed by Dalton, Thomson, Rutherford, Bhor and Heisenberg. After watching several YouTube clips, using various analogies and having a great class discussion regarding the differences between the theories, one student voiced his idea that it would be great if we could act this theory out (this way not in my plan at all). I really liked this students idea so we went down the hall to an open space and acted out each persons theory.

  • Dalton’s Billiard Ball Model: Atom is a solid hunk of matter – students packed themselves as close as possible. When we “divided” the atom in half, students stayed together, recognizing that it is a solid hunk.
  • Thomson’s Chocolate Chip Muffin Theory: The atom is composed of a mass of positive charge with negative electrons embedded in it (the muffin being the positive mass and the chocolate chips being the electrons) – the boys acted as the positive mass and the girls embedded themselves within to act as the electrons.
  • Rutherford’s Planetary Model: Electrons orbit the positively charged nucleus as the planets orbit the sun. The girls acted as the positively charged nuclues and the boys orbited around the nucleus just as if they were planets.
  • Bohr’s Shell theory: Electrons orbit the nucleus in shells containing different energy levels. The boys acted as the nuclues and the girls formed various energy levels (2 in the first, followed by 8, etc.). They then moved around the nucleus in their energy level.
  • Heisenberg & Quantum Theory: Electrons occupy a region of space at a particular time, retaining distinct energy levels. The girls acted as the nucleus and the boys created the electron cloud and moved around the positively charged nucleus.


Atomic Theorists Matching Game

To begin class (and recap the previous class) students were asked to put themselves into groups of 3. Each group was given an envelope and told that the envelope contains 5 theorists names including 3 written descriptions  and 1 picture, which match with each theorist for a total of 25 pieces. Students were immediately engaged in the activity as they worked through to make connections to the previous days learning and activity.

Periodic Table Battleship

To give students the opportunity to get acquainted with the periodic table (and some of the terminology used) the students played periodic table battleship. We used laminated periodic tables and whiteboard markers. As with the classic game, each player was allowed to cover 5 elements, 4 elements, 3 elements and 2 elements. Each students would then use the group/family number and the period number to converse with their opponent about the location on the periodic table – they were not simply allowed to use the name or symbol of the element.

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Kinetic Molecular Theory Activity

KMT Balloon Activity

  • Each participant blows up a balloon of any shape, size, or colour
  • The size of the container is determined by the class but it can be adjusted to become larger or smaller
  • Solid state-hold balloon and vibrate, Liquid state-hold, move balloon, rotate ballon, gas state-tap balloon upwards and keep balloon off the floor
  • When “Absolute Zero” is called, all balloons are in each participant’s hands.  All molecular motion ceases.
  • When the container’s temperature is “heated”, participants must move faster around the room with their balloons
  • When the container’s temperature is “cooled”, participants move slower throughout the room
  • If a door is opened, some participants move out of the room with their balloon

Activity credited to Peggy Au.

Atomic Periodic Table

Students were divided into groups of three. Each group was given an envelope with 20 squares. Each square had a description of atoms 1 through 20 on the periodic table. The students were then asked to create the shape of the periodic table, with their group, using the squares they had been given.

Sodium & Calcium in Water

I began class by asking students if reactivity increased or decreased down a group. I then asked them, based on this knowledge, will sodium (higher on the table in group 1) or calcium (lower on the table in group 2) be more reactive. I then placed calcium and sodium in water. In the beaker with sodium I also added phenolphthalein indicator to show students that the products of the chemical reaction are basic (scaffolding of learning, hooking them into a future topic). After, we looked at the energy level diagrams of sodium and calcium and had a discussion about why sodium was in fact more reactive.

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