ACCT

What do we want to know about our students' thinking? Categorizing chemistry formative assessments with ACCT.

Formative assessment questions provide a useful lens into students' minds regarding what they are thinking about chemistry. By ascertaining what students are thinking, teachers can make decisions regarding what to do with what they learn. The members of ACCT (Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking) presented a ChemEd X Talk on the topic on May 26th. You can watch the edited recording of this Talk and find more resources here.

What do you want to know about your students' chemical thinking? Categorizing chemistry formative assessments

In order to teach chemistry effectively, we must ascertain what our students are thinking about chemistry and make a decision regarding what to do with what we learn. Formative assessment questions provide a useful lens into students' minds regarding what they are thinking about chemistry. Let us consider then, how categorizing formative assessment questions could help us plan out our classes more deliberately, in order to better design purposeful written formative assessments that align with our curricular goals. 

ACCT professional development facilitator materials

The Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking (ACCT) group has created materials for chemistry teachers nationwide to employ in order to deliver professional development in your schools, districts, and professional organizations.  The ten sessions constitute a full course of professional development, which we used to deliver over the course of an entire school year back in Boston. The design of the professional development is based upon three critical frameworks, each of which is a pillar that the PD rests upon. These three pillars are Chemical Thinking, the Formative Assessment Enactment Model and the Teaching Dilemmas. Understanding how these three pillars collectively support the ACCT model of professional development is critical to be able to deliver professional development sessions effectively. More information about each framework is linked above their respective infographics. Session at at glance pages for each of the nine sessions give an overview of what facilitators and participants should expect from each ACCT session. 

 

Session 1 at a Glance

This 3 hour session provides an introduction to the Assessing for Change in Chemical Thinking (ACCT) professional development series. Session 1 provides an overview of the three program components that drive ACCT sessions: The Chemical Thinking Model, the Formative Assessment Enactment Model and Teaching Dilemmas. Teachers have time to get to know each other and begin to build a collaborative professional learning community. Participants complete a chemistry formative assessment and then explore student work related to that assessment. The Chemical Thinking Framework is discussed in more detail, highlighting the related chemistry practices. The six overarching objectives, the central focus of the ACCT course, are introduced; they will be revisited in each workshop session. 

Comparing household chemicals

In "Comparing household chemicals" students discover the effects of using different types of household chemicals and determine if they are really all so different. This formative assessment targets the question “What are the effects of using and producing different matter types?” This is important because students should understand the types of products they are using. If they are buying something that says it is a cleaner for the bathroom, why does it sometimes have the same compounds in it as a cleaner for the kitchen. If students can recognize this, then they can be better consumers and not have to buy two different products knowing that the chemicals are the same.

Airbag challenge

In the “Airbag challenge” the students are tasked with developing a safe airbag for a car company. This formative assessment explores students’ thinking about the question “How can chemical changes be controlled?” The central concept in this challenge is the application is stoichiometry. Students are expected to use the numbers of moles of reactant consumed or product formed in a balanced chemical equation and to determine the change in the number of moles of any other reactant and product. Students need to use molar mass to convert mass of a reactant or product to moles for use in stoichiometric calculations or to convert moles from stoichiometric calculations to mass. Students use the ideal gas law equation to determine the numbers of moles in a sample of gas not at standard conditions.

Salt vs. Sugar – A Dissolving Problem

This formative assessment looks at two household chemicals (table salt and sugar) and compares their properties while looking at how they dissolve in water. The “Salt vs. Sugar” formative assessment explores students’ thinking about the question “How does structure influence reactivity?” The main idea that is being targeted is for students to think about what is happening at the molecular level during the solution process. This activity is important for students because it helps create a context for what some of the vocabulary and concepts mean by providing tangible examples of these concepts (such as the concept of saturation).This formative assessment looks at two household chemicals (table salt and sugar) and compares their properties while looking at how they dissolve in water. The “Salt vs. Sugar” formative assessment explores students’ thinking about the question “How does structure influence reactivity?” The main idea that is being targeted is for students to think about what is happening at the molecular level during the solution process. This activity is important for students because it helps create a context for what some of the vocabulary and concepts mean by providing tangible examples of these concepts (such as the concept of saturation).

How strong of acid is Vinegar (Acetic Acid)?

In “How strong an acid is vinegar?” the students explore the nonlinear relationship between the concentration of a weak acid and the pH of the solution. This formative assessment targets the question “how does structure influence reactivity?”  Students need to understand the behavior of strong and weak acids to comprehend phenomena like buffering capacity.

Hot, hot, hot

This formative assessment was designed to target students’ thinking around the structure-property relationships in an accessible, real-world context. This is done through targeting noncovalent interactions. The understanding of this topic is critical for students’ reasoning about observable properties of matter.