Editor’s Roundtable: A matter of confusionby: Inez Liftig

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Much of the information about atomic structure is too abstract and difficult for most middle level students to comprehend, so middle level teachers face a dilemma: If they introduce atomic theory too early and in too much detail, they may lose their students, but if they wait too late to introduce it, many very capable students may miss valuable concepts and be at a disadvantage in their high school courses. In this issue, you’ll find a number of activities designed to make the particulate model of matter accessible to middle level students.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:49 AM

The author's view is right on regarding teaching standards mandated by state boards for students in middle school science. I agree that teaching the concept of matter, including the structure of the atom, is quite foreign to 6th graders. This is where our state has indicated that students should know the structure of the atom. This issue provides great age-level learning activities and can be used for scaffolding the learning of this abstract concept.

Yolanda Smith-Evans  (Houston, TX)
Yolanda Smith-Evans (Houston, TX)

  • on Tue Aug 30, 2011 10:54 PM

This editorial provides a candid look at the discrepancies in standards and expected learning outcomes regarding atomic structure from state to state and even between national based measurement tools. In an important point is made by the editor - if you decide your students are ready for a more advanced look at atomic structure, be sure to assess their understanding frequently through formative assessments.

Susanne Hokkanen  (Orland Park, IL)
Susanne Hokkanen (Orland Park, IL)

  • on Sat Dec 10, 2011 4:28 PM

This article is nice because it lets us know where most students are in terms of atomic theory. It tells us that we should not go too far into the details on the subject in the middle school because it is difficult to understand. However, then we have certain places where there are standards in regards to the atomic theory and what students should know. With these standards then there is a conflicting matter. There is a suggestion to continue teaching as far as students can handle, but how much is that?


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