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Teaching Atomic Structure Using Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning is a teaching pedagogy that is great to use, but often challenging to implement. In a high school general chemistry classroom (non-honors level), the range of math abilities across the student population often means that some students catch on quickly to the algebra-based concepts. Other students struggle with very basic algebra. The beauty of using Cooperative Learning is that the science teacher can use the higher ability students as another resource for the students that need to have concepts reinforced. In this atomic structure lesson, cooperative learning is used to teach the concepts of atomic number, mass number, isotope, and nuclear atom. Each learning group is created with the strengths (and weaknesses) of the students in mind. The students with a higher ability are challenged to help explain the atomic structure concepts to their peers. The students of a lower ability aren’t left “off the hook”. They are still responsible to teach their peers one of the atomic structure concepts, however, they are given a concept that is more clearly defined.

Grade Level: High School (9-12)
Curriculum Topic Benchmarks: S10.4.1, S10.4.7
Subject Keywords: Cooperative learning, Atomic structure, Atomic number, Protons, Neutrons, Mass number, Isotopes

Author(s): Kathleen Wawers
PUMAS ID: 02_26_07_1
Date Received: 2007-02-26
Date Revised: 2007-07-17
Date Accepted: 2008-01-30

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