The task was straightforward. Use a model to describe how the total number of atoms doesn't change in a chemical reaction and thus mass is conserved. Emphasis on physical models or drawings. Not to include atomic masses or balancing symbolic equations.
In breaking this PE apart, it seemed that I needed to make sure classes were solid on models before we tackled the performance. It is something that we've been working on throughout the school year, so I hoped a quick revisit would refresh their learning. I decided that Padlet offered a good way....students brainstormed all the ways in which we used a model...putting one example per post-it.
Using Padlet was engaging for them to see if they can recall everything and they liked remembering what they did with each of these activities. I'm really glad I didn't stick with post-its because we could have never done this as a whole class because you can't really see what's written on tiny post-its. Transferring from physical post-its to the Padlet post-its wasn't difficult.
Another hour's class had common elements, but it looks completely different.
The next day I had them review their spiral for notes on the different kinds of models and categorize all the examples they had brainstormed. I anticipated this would be an easy task we could do in about 10 minutes, but it turned out that it took us a whole hour. Where some people wanted to categorize something was NOT where others wanted. Pretty enthusiastic conversations followed and I felt like my job was to sit back and facilitate their debate. We are finally getting to the point where I see they are taking ownership of the learning and are becoming skilled in staying on topic long enough to do a task like this.
Slowly they created consensus about where each activity would fall.
The biggest realization students figured out is that really the whole idea of a model changes....what might start off as an idea can easily find it's way to a physical model where you interact with "stuff" you touch. Then as you understand that idea and generate data, it's easy to move into the conceptual model zone where drawing a diagram describes what is happening more easily.
I do believe everyone agreed that it really doesn't matter where it's categorized as long as the format you used helped you understand the phenomenon.
I really liked using Padlet because it helped us move things around on the SmartBoard until we were happy...it was easy to make changes in the wording...easy to add/subtract things. What we didn't like was the limits on font color because they would have liked to color code each kind of model.
Next time: I thought it would help students to think about a model as they were designing their experiments. That wasn't a good assumption. I loved the activity but next year, I will do this activity right after they finish their experiments...before they analyze their data in order to build their model.