This assignment helps students realize that chemistry class is not just a place where we talk about and imagine stuff we can’t see, but the things we learn in chemistry are actually used in real life in lots of different ways.
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This strategy has been very helpful in establishing relevance to topics taught and in making connections between topics taught within a unit. It also provides a way for students to ask questions and make written explanations of phenomena, which are “Science and Engineering Practices” of NGSS.
I put together a Science Reasoning Rubric that can be used for many writing prompts in a Chemistry class. It can be used whether a prompt is more suited toward a claim or an explanation. I like that the rubric can be used for lots of the writing tasks students will encounter in a Chemistry class. This means students get used to seeing it, and this consistency is helpful as students write explanations and claims throughout the year.
NGSS crosscutting concepts and core ideas are intended to be used as evidence to support explanations and arguments. I have found several lists of Chemistry core ideas online, but I don’t think I would give the ones I have seen to my students because they are either too long or written with language that I don’t think is suitable for novice learners of Chemistry. I have compiled a list of the crosscutting concepts and 12 core ideas for high school Chemistry that my students could use to support the explanations and arguments I will be asking them to write.
I attended a professional development session on the NGSS earlier this week by Brett Moulding and Nicole Paulson based on the book they wrote with Rodger Bybee, A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning. The authors propose the “gathering-reasoning-communicating” (GRC) structure as a simplified way of thinking about the Science and Engineering Practices. Reasoning is the keystone of the GRC structure and the primary thing we want science students to be doing. “Gathering” provides the raw materials for reasoning and “communicating” helps us know that reasoning has taken place.