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STEM Lesson Plan Reflection

Collaborating on a lesson plan with the Math Education program was an extremely
rewarding experience. Chemistry as a subject is very math heavy, but our program does not focus
on how to best integrate math into the content. By working with the Math program, I was able to
gain new insight into how to best approach and scaffold students chemistry and math content
learning. INTASC 7 calls for planning for instruction through a multitude of approaches. This
lesson allowed us to not only draw upon each content area individually, but allowed us to
interweave them seamlessly. By having students complete part of the calorimetry lab without any
explanation first, they will be able to determine the relationship between calories (energy) and
temperature (heat) on their own. This part of the lab focused not only on introducing the
chemistry concept of specific heat, but also required students to be able to graphically show the
relationship they found.
Further in the lesson, students would manipulate an equation to discover a new way of
solving for energy and also use their original graphs to solve for calories of an unknown
substance. By using multiple methods of solving for energy, both the chemistry and math
concepts were reiterated. This cross-disciplinary approach to learning has become a natural part
of lesson planning for me and I think it helps bring an extra level of applicability to student
learning.
My pedagogy has become very student-centered with hands-on, lab based learning at the
forefront of every unit. I believe this style of learning promotes curiosity and engagement in
students, while also giving students concrete examples to look back on later in the year. I believe
this lesson, like my pedagogy, relates well to the NSTA Standard for Learning Environments.
The variety of strategies used within the lesson including discussions, labs, use of technology,
practice problems, graphing, and small lectures allow students to have a multitude of ways of
learning and working with the content (3a).
The main component of the lesson is an inquiry activity where students are expected to
not only work with probeware, but interpret their findings to be able to develop a relationship
between variables and predict results in further experiments (3b). I believe this combination of
collection and interpretation of data helps students to better grasp concepts and obtain better
overall science literacy. Along with assessing students final lab reports, we thought it was
important to continually monitor and question students about how they were proceeding through
the lab (3c). This gives the teacher an opportunity to not only assess progress and understanding,
but also draw out any preconceptions that could possibly confuse students. We also thought it
was important to allow students a chance to pair and share about how they chose to graphically
represent their findings and how their findings did or did not support their original hypothesis.
This gave them a chance to self-assess while the teacher could walk around and listen in as well.
Finally, because there were open flames and burning materials involved in the lab, safety
was an extremely important aspect of the lesson. Safety objectives were included in the lesson
plan for the teacher and on lab sheets given to students. Safety would also be addressed before
beginning the lab to make sure everyone was aware of the proper procedures and any student
questions would be discussed (3d). All in all, this experience was extremely positive. The lesson
turned out much better than I could have ever hoped using solely chemistry concepts because
with the added math components, it really forces students to manipulate the chemistry in
multiple ways. This manipulation helps students better understand the content and remember it
longer. I would love to incorporate STEM lesson into every unit I teach.