I recently tweeted about an activity which I ran with one of my Year 10 groups and it was suggested that I shared the idea, so here goes.
I wanted the students to develop some independent inquiry skills during our lesson on the Periodic Table and its arrangement. It would have been easy enough for me to sit them down in the classroom and give them a well researched youtube video, some card sorts and a bunch of information to learn about Mendeleev, yet I decided against that.
I took the class to our rather wonderful E-Learning Centre which is a technological hub of the school with fantastic resources such as iPads, Macs, PCs, interactive whiteboard wall, cameras etc. One of our installed apps is called “The Elements” which you can find on the iTunes store. I wanted the students to try and work out how the periodic table was arranged from first principles. The app includes loads of excellent information about the elements but very little about the arrangement of the table.
I tasked the students with the challenge of creating a theory about how the periodic table was arranged. I split them into pairs who then gave themselves team names. Each team was given 10 points to start with during the lesson. The aim of the lesson was to explore the periodic table and construct a theory about its arrangement, the team who constructed the best written theory, with the most points remaining by the end of the lesson, won a prize.
There was a catch however. I had created five “Hints” on a powerpoint which were hyperlinked to some clues to guide their research. These hints came at a cost, two points apiece. The teams now had to decide was it worth researching independently without help, to establish a firm theory without spending points; or, could they risk spending a few points to get an even better theory which might mean they would still win, even though they had less points than they started with.
The result was a fast-paced, highly independent lesson where the teams battled it out against one another. Having spoken to the students after the lesson, they mentioned how much they had enjoyed it. The said how hard it was to decide whether or not to spend points to do better, or could they rely on their own analytical skills to develop their theories without help.
There are so many ways in which this lesson could be adapted to suit any topic in any subject. If you would like any resources, do let me know by dropping me a tweet. Enjoy!