For this blog entry, I am updating an earlier post that I did over the summer. I am also adding pictures from one of my classes that did this activity on Friday.
This following activity is one that I used last year for the first time and it worked really well. The kids were so engaged and felt really satisfied when they figured it out. They will be able to use their Foldable as a resource for this activity.
To prepare this lesson, I printed out the activity cards on pages 2 & 3, laminated them, and cut them apart. I placed each set of cards in a zip-top bag, one per group of 2 students.
On their desks, I have the students place the “Physical Change” card to their left and the “Chemical Change” card to their right. Now they have to sort each card into the correct column. You can do one together to demonstrate the procedures. The kids continue to sort the cards until they have all 15 lined up in the correct columns. When they are done, they raise their hand to call me over and see if their cards are in the right place.
I walk over and when they ask if they have it right, I smile and say “Nope”. (Usually there are at least a few in the wrong spot). So now they have to evaluate what they did and figure out what is in the right spot and what is not. I usually give the kids 2 or 3 tries without any hints from me. Then I give hints like “You have 3 in the wrong spot” or “Everything in your physical change column is correct so far.” (There may be 1 or 2 in the chemical change that need to be moved over.) Or “You have to switch one from each column”, but I won’t tell them which ones.
Once they have everything correct, I push/pile up the physical change card together and give them to one lab partner and tell them to write it in their lab journal. I push/pile up the chemical change cards together and give it to the other lab partner to write in his/her lab journal. Then I tell them to switch cards so they have everything written down in both journals. We keep it top-secret so their nosy neighbors don’t see their answers! =)
This year, I gave the students a certain amount of time (about 10 minutes) to work on their sorting before I gave them any clues. I pulled up the pdf on the SmartBoard that showed some of the cards they had. One helping clue would be something like “Boiling water is a physical change” and I would circle it on the Smart Board so they can see it and have it as a reference.
I would drop clues slowly over the next few minutes. After about 20 minutes, we went over each item and classified them as physical or chemical changes and made corrections to our categories. What seemed like an “easy” activity was really challenging for them. There were several misconceptions that kept holding on, even though we talked about boiling water and ice melting during our lessons on states of matter as being only physical changes, some kids still classified them as chemical changes.
I love seeing the lab partners talk about where each item goes and they get into some great discussions, they try to reason with their lab partner, they compromise, sometimes they argue, etc… To quote some of my students “This was so fun, and so frustrating!” The groups that placed their items correctly were really proud of their accomplishments. And as we went over the answers, the kids would cheer when they got each one right, and talk to their partners about how they sorted it, what they weren’t sure of, etc. To wrap up the lesson, the students answered the analysis questions and wrote a conclusion.