Unit 1 of the Chemistry Modeling Instruction materials is a great unit for teachers to modify according to the specific needs of their students. When asked how long this unit normally takes with students, I have heard answers from Modeling teachers ranging from two weeks to nearly an entire quarter. There’s so much to explore in the first unit, with regards to the content of basic properties of matter (mass, volume, and density), developing a basic particle model according to macroscopic evidence, developing beginning experimentation skills (e.g. taking good measurements, utilizing significant figures appropriately, analyzing data, and drawing conclusions), and solving problems in all three of these areas.
For my students, the content of this unit is already pretty solid. However, they struggle with science skills like taking good measurements or interpreting experimental data. This year I wanted to teach unit 1 in such a way that it became obvious that our focus was on improving these skills. I also did not want to spend a lot of time on this unit because 1) students in years past have mentioned that it drags and 2) we will be focusing on learning these science skills all year so they don’t have to become masters right away.
Below is a description of how my students and I addressed unit 1 this year. Each “class day” that is referred to is a 40 minute period. ***Please note that I feel this is moving through unit 1 at an extremely fast rate. I am not advocating that other Modeling teachers move this quickly. You know your students. You know what they are capable of. This is what was appropriate for my students this year.