Ionic Formulas With a Twist

After leaving the NISE Conference I found myself thinking about my current curriculum.  There’s a lot of things that I do well, but there’s certainly room for improvement in terms of infusing NGSS Science and Engineering Practices.  One aspect of my teaching that could use a little “oomph” deals with SEP Practice 7, Engaging in Argument from Evidence.  Rarely do I have my students stand in front of the classroom to present explanations to their peers.  In addition, I need to create ways for my students to defend their opinions and suggest alternate ideas.  Inspired to make changes in my own curriculum, I decided to try something different as I introduced formula writing to my students.  

Before arriving to class, students were told to watch two You Tube videos for homework:  Names & Formulas of Ionic Compounds and Ionic Compounds with Polyatomic Ions.  Keep in mind that I have a “partially flipped” classroom.  They periodically watch videos for homework.  I instructed students to open up a blank page in Notability on their iPads (although this could easily be done on paper or white boards) and I provided the following instructions:
1.  Using your ion chart, combine the name of one positive ion and one negative ion to write the NAME of an ionic compound.  Try to make it as hard as you can!  Include transition metals and polyatomic ions for added difficulty!
2.  Using your ion chart, combine the symbol of one positive ion and one negative ion to write the FORMULA of an ionic compound.  Don’t forget to use subscripts to make the ionic compound have a neutral charge overall.  Again, pick tough ones!

Using a deck of cards, I handed out pre-selected cards to place students into teams of two.  The teams met up at lab benches and swapped iPads.  Based on what their partner wrote, the team member needed to predict the correct formula for compound #1 and name for compound #2.  I not-so-randomly called certain students to the board (I knew they had hard challenging compounds) and asked them to write down what their partner had written on the iPad and the responses they provided.  Here’s the good part; they had to convince the rest of the class that they had provided the correct answers.  After their argument, I asked the class to either raise their hand and state “I agree with the formula/name you provided” or state “I disagree with your formula/name and here’s why…”  

What I learned:  
1.  Students at the board were uncomfortable in front of their classmates.  They tended to look at me when they spoke rather than explaining their answers to the class.
2.  Students in the audience did a great job either agreeing or disagreeing with the response.  They provided convincing evidence to prove why the presenter’s answer was incorrect.
3.  I would definitely do something like this again.  In terms of implementing SEP Practice 7, this activity gave student a solid opportunity to argue their explanation and defend their interpretation.
4. Regular level chemistry students needed a lot more guidance in terms of what they were supposed to write down for the name of compound #1 and the formula of compound #2.  I provided examples of what I was looking for and reminded them of how to make compound #2 neutral by using subscripts.  I’m attaching the explanation that I posted on the overhead during the instructions.
Ionic Compound Inquiry Instructions


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About Tanya Katovich

I am a proud mother to three beautiful girls and two dogs (one naughty, one nice). Currently serving as Vice-President on the NISE Board of Directors. Incredibly proud of winning the CICI Davidson Award in 2015. I love presenting, whether it's at NSTA conferences, workshops for teachers, ChemEd, or private consulting. I am National Board Certified in HS Chemistry,