I am enrolled in a Modeling Instruction Workshop in Michigan. We have only four days left of the 15 scheduled days. I had planned to blog about the workshop every day, but I found that it was difficult for me to articulate my thoughts quickly enough to post daily. I know several teachers that are using the Modeling Curriculum, including Erica Posthuma Adams. You may have seen her posts here at ChemEd X highlighting ideas from Modeling Instruction so I was not unfamiliar with the term. But, I must admit that I had developed several misconceptions about Modeling Instruction before seeing it for myself.
My biggest "AH HA " has been that I had assumed Modeling Instruction was a curriculum that used models. When I say models, I am visualizing having students create models and draw models to represent what is happening on a particle level. That perception understated the method immensely. What I have discovered is that the Modeling Instruction curriculum is a vehicle for a conceptual pedagogy that teachers use to lead students to a conceptualization of chemistry concepts. Teachers use whiteboards and other modeling tools as formative assessment to uncover misconceptions and help students develop their own model of the atom and how it relates to chemistry content. This approach mirrors how the field of chemistry naturally evolved. Because of this, the order of topics must be addressed in a specific order.
As I am trying to wrap my head around using the modeling curriculum this fall, one of my biggest hurdles will be adjusting to the idea that I will not be teaching my students about the nucleus of the atom, electron configurations or the organization of the periodic table during first semester! There is some flexibility in the order of topics, but the curriculum is written to address the following Big Ideas:
- Physical Properties of Matter
- Energy -Particles in Motion
- Energy and States of Matter
- Describing Substances
- Counting Particles Too Small to See
- Particles With Internal Structure
- Chemical Reactions: Particles and Energy
- Introduction to Stoichiometry
- Further Applications of Stoichiometry
- Models of the Atom (Revisited)
- Bonding and the Periodic Table
12a.Temperature and Thermal Energy
12b. Intermolecular Attractions and Biological Macromolecules
13. Chemical Equilibrium
14. Acids and Bases
I have already transformed my classes to include more inquiry based learning by revising my approach to labs. I use modeling and Socratic questioning techniques already, but I have been able to see and practice more of those techniques within the workshop. I am looking forward to trying out some of those new skills with students. The biggest change will be the order of topics and focusing on helping students to develop their own model of the atom as we observe things within the curriculum that they can’t already explain with the previous model that they developed.
I have been using many activities that provide models for students to manipulate with the desire to help them understand a concept. The Modeling Instruction curriculum provides lab experiences so that students discover evidence that their previous model cannot explain. Then, the student develops a new model to accomodate that new evidence. This is parallel to how science evolves every day.
I also appreciate that the curriculum develops conceptual understanding of the relationships and ratios in chemistry as opposed to emphasizing algorithmic problem solving. I have become a big fan of using the BCA format for stoichiometry instead of using dimensional analysis/factor label method.
I would love to hear from others that are using modeling instruction. I am interested in hearing success stories, but I am also interested in difficulties that teachers have had in making the transition.
You can find out more about the Modeling Curriculum, how to find a workshop to attend and how to become a member at their Web site. http://modelinginstruction.org