The Big Picture- My First Year Chemistry Scope and Sequence

The Big Picture: General Chemistry

I thought I’d start to dive into the big picture of what I implement in my classroom. I’ll start with General/Honors Chemistry, and next I’ll write about AP chemistry. I have found it really helpful to see the scope and sequence from other teachers over time, and I hope this is helpful to you. 

Guiding principles in my scope and sequence: Start with a simple representations of the nanoscopic and dig deep. Hopefully, by the time we start with vital, albeit often more challenging symbolic representations (mole, stoichiometry, solutions), students have a decent foundation to build upon.

I have attached more specific learning goals per unit as supporting information below. (Please do not re-post my work.) Here is a summary of that document:

1st Semester

  • Nature of Science

  • Defining matter, measurement, conversions, and sig figs

  • Kinetic molecular theory of matter, gas laws

  • Chemical names and symbols, conservation of matter, properties of elements on the periodic table

  • Models of the atom, isotopes

  • Ionic compounds

  • Types of bonding and properties

  • Lewis structures, geometry, polarity, and intermolecular forces

  • Honors/Level 2: Intro to quantum theory, etc. More of the honors/L2 curriculum is embedded over time.

2nd Semester

  • Continue: Lewis structures, geometry, polarity, and intermolecular forces

  • Honors/Level 2: 3D molecules: chirality (mirror image isomers), amino acids and proteins

  • Chemical equations, physical and chemical change, balancing equations, types of reactions

  • The mole, counting by weighing, comparing amounts

  • Acids and bases, solution chemistry

  • Stoichiometry, limiting reactants, and percent yield

  • Honors/L2: equilibrium, etc. More of the honors/L2 curriculum is embedded over time.

*Note: This level 2 business is what I force all honors students to do. I’m not perfect, but I try to structure my classes such that students in general chemistry who are ready for level 2 work have access to it and are assessed on it.

General Notes:

I consider myself an engineer of sorts and stand on the shoulders of those who came before me. In addition to connecting with lots of people over time, here are some commercial resources that have shaped curriculum that I will likely elaborate upon in future posts:

  1. Living by Chemistry (Bedford, Freeman, and Worth) - When I purchased this in 2010, it was about $1,000 and used a mini-grant to pay for it. I’m not sure what the pricing structure is now.

    1. Pros: It’s not really the’s the 5E daily activities that are overall well designed to always fit a larger purpose or theme. I have learned a TON from using this curriculum. It’s worth it. This is where I get my (seemingly random) unit titles. Also, the people who worked to develop this curriculum are well-respected chemists at UC-Berkeley, led by Dr. Angelica Stacy. This work has been field tested in many environments and it shows in the final product. Also, they are always at NSTA and are very friendly to talk to in person.

    2. Cons: Gauge your students. Oftentimes, my students need more practice in class before moving on.

  2. POGIL Activities for High School Chemistry (Flinn Scientific)

    1. Pros: Activities are pretty solid, and in the teacher resources, there are some common misconceptions to look for as students work, as well as sample assessment questions. Also, it’s $52. I bought this with my own money.

    2. Cons: I have been fortunate enough to have engaged in multiple POGIL facilitator trainings, as the PO stands for Process Oriented...aka how to get kids to work together and share/challenge ideas? These activities can go downhill FAST if they are treated as daily worksheets to complete.


All in all, I have landed in this place scope and sequence-wise after seven years of inquiry and thought to develop a chemistry narrative to support students in (I think) meaningfully connecting the macro-, nano- and symbolic world.


Here’s why I’m keeping this short and sweet:

  • What questions do you have? (Like, how in the world do you teach titrations before stoichiometry)?

  • What is your overall scope and sequence? How did you arrive there? Post a link or upload a file?

Supporting Information: 
Join the conversation.

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Comments 4

Jen Lee's picture
Jen Lee | Wed, 07/13/2016 - 09:25

Hi Tracy...

Your attached document says that you've got the NGSS alignment written out, and I was wondering if you could share that with me.  I am a new teacher, starting my second year of teaching high school chemistry, and I've been assigned to write a chem curriculum for NGSS this summer. I love the book Living By Chemistry; I used it for the second half of last year.  I would like to see how you aligned the NGSS standards to the chapters in Living By Chemistry.



Jen Lee


Tracy Schloemer's picture
Tracy Schloemer | Mon, 07/18/2016 - 14:42

Hey Jen-

I love that you love LBC!

I'm really sorry, I don't have a lesson by lesson alignment to NGSS - I did it by unit and only the content standards of NGSS. Yes, a cop out, but reading through the engineering dimensions, it felt overly cumbersome to go lesson by lesson as well. Excuses aside, I am in the middle of changing contexts, and I can't access that particular document.

I'm 110% sure you have this link, but scroll down here for the content standards in Physical Science. Most items were within the structure and properties and chemical reactions. Coulomb's law content is under forces.

If you want to share a document you start I'm happy to be another set of eyeballs on your chapter alignments, and sorry to be (albeit unintentionally) misleading. Shoot me an email at my first.last name above @gmail.



samantha bonner | Wed, 09/07/2016 - 13:14

I teach with LBC and I have done a lot of reworking of the resources. I like the idea of putting the gas laws in with Alchemy 1 but I would love some guidence. This is my 5 yr teaching and I am always looking for better ways to connect with students earlier in the semester and the gas laws are great for that. There are a lot of labs and ways to incorporate particle drawings as you mentioned. Do you have any resources or documents you would be willing to share to help me plan and map out how alchemy 1 will look rolling into alchemy 2? Also what is the board meetings you speak of for the driving experience? Thank you so much!


Tracy Schloemer's picture
Tracy Schloemer | Mon, 09/12/2016 - 10:01

Hi Samantha!

Thanks for your response, and sorry for my delay. The labwork was relatively traditional- if you have pressure and temperature probes available, you are good to go. I believe for Charles Law I had them use a PHET simulation.

After each lab, the board meeting would be students sharing the following info on a giant white BOARD (hence the term board meeting, haha): graph of data with error bars and equation of best fit with R^2 and I think a particulate diagram of two points. We'd hold a mini-socratic to discuss experimental issues and determine a consensus on relationships.

Resources I used are from resources from "Patterns Chemistry" curriculum a friend of mine worked to develop- this guy is awesome and doesn't work for a company. I'm waiting to hear if I may share those specific resources on ChemEdX. Ultimately, it beautifully strings together a lot of common labs and topics (including potential energy wells).