Over the past week, students have been familiarizing themselves with Lewis theory, structural diagrams and areas of electron density to lead them to where we are today. As students have worked through concepts, and become masters, each concept crucial to the understanding of the next one, they have unknowingly been preparing for VSEPR Yoga!
The past two periods the students engaged in activities to familiarize themselves with the 3D shapes of molecules. Students were given model kits, which they could use to build various molecules to see their orientation in 3D. Perhaps more memorable, we participated in VSEPR Yoga! Students were asked to make the various shapes with their bodies. In one period, we practiced making the shapes with the model kits and our bodies. The following class, we played “Mr. B says …” (a spin off of the classic child’s game “Simon says …”). On cue, students engaged in the activity by making the shape that Mr. B said, however, if they made the wrong shape or made a shape when Mr. B did not say, they had to sit down and wait until the next round.
This brought out some extremely healthy competition in the class and the engagement was electric. It was interesting at first, the students groaned at the idea of partaking in yoga in a chemistry class; I was often asked “why do we have to move, can’t we just sit here and listen?”. However, once students saw the benefit of the activity most students engagement was full throttle. Something I think is extremely important to teach individual learners that even though they learn best one way another person may learn in a different way. It was important in this situation to have the class culture that we have, which allowed those who learn kinesthetically to take part and increase understanding, those who were reluctant at first but saw the benefits to their own learning by the end and those who were reluctant, stayed reluctant, but partook in the activity understanding it was helping their peers to grasp a concept that they may have already mastered from a previous activity. Without the positive learning community in the classroom, activities like this would be extremely difficult. We were fortunate enough to have a member of the yearbook club come to take photographs of the experience!
I’ve noticed this semester that the class is really engaged in bonding and have developed a deep understanding of the concepts. Each day, there is a short period of direct instruction and from there students collaborate with one another to solve problems they are given. The set up of the classroom (in pods of 3, 4 or 5) allows easy collaboration between students; this set up has increased the sense of community within our classroom, promoted engagement and resulted in enhanced student learning.
Until next time,