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Mendeleev and the Periodicity of the Elements



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Project Mendeleev and the Periodicity of the Elements 1 Kevin D McMahon 625 SC 10 29 06 Project Mendeleev and the Periodicity of the Elements The project was conducted in my 5th period Honors Chemistry and required three days for completion Day one included a discussion of the objectives of the activity to recreate Mendeleev s original Periodic Table an introduction and procedures Students were then allowed to begin the activity Day two students continued to work with their partner and completed the task Day three we discussed the process by which they arrived at their conclusions metacognition their results relative to Mendeleev s original Periodic Table and then we concluded with a brief assessment of the activity A considerable amount of video was recorded during the three class sessions editing was therefore required to produce a presentation of appropriate length The editing gave me the opportunity to examine the introduction student activity and reflection processes in detail Furthermore because I have done this activity quite a number of times it also allowed me to compare the difference between past and present performance of this activity My first observation is that I was more careful in articulating the goals for this activity than I have done in the past I was more sensitive to the real objective of the activity which was to give students an opportunity to solve a puzzle and to allow them the freedom to explore solutions with as little guidance as possible No doubt this heightened Project Mendeleev and the Periodicity of the Elements 2 sensitivity was due to my increasing awareness of my own interest in the nature of science and the functioning of reason and intuition within this domain It was evident to me that the students benefited from this clearer articulation All the students were engaged in completing the activity and there were more groups who completed the assignment successfully than in the past The remaining observations are regarding the third day of the activity which involved a metacognitive reflection This was the first time I incorporated this in the activity Usually I am in a rush to get through more content so I don t take the time to have a concluding reflection There were some awkward moments when it was clear that the students were unsure as to what I wanted them to do how to do it and or how to share their reflections with the class One reason I believe they had difficulty with this part of the activity is their lack of experience in reflecting about the thinking process itself The other reason is that I also lack some experience in directing students in metacognition Yet it was evident from the interest demonstrated by the students that they genuinely benefited from this final part of the activity I have come up with several ideas which I think with make the metacognitive reflection more effective I will 1 provide students with a handout that will prompt and direct their reflection through probative questions 2 allow students more time to share their ideas particularly since this appears to be unfamiliar territory for many of them and the very bright among them are loath to make a mistake and 3 use this activity as a springboard to discuss cognition and metacognition more thoroughly In conclusion although I have done this activity many times in past chemistry classes I gleaned much more out of it this time and I believe the students benefited more Project Mendeleev and the Periodicity of the Elements from it also This experience has made two things clearer to me 1 the value of videoing class instruction as a tool of pedagogical self reflection and 2 my interest in what is occurring cognitively and perhaps intuitively in the performance of science and exploring that process through metacognitive reflection This latter point is something I hope to explore through the Masters program 3


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