The Name That Element Concept Builder is an adjustable-size file that displays nicely on smart phones, on tablets such as the iPad, on Chromebooks, and on laptops and desktops. The size of the Concept Builder can be scaled to fit the device that it is displayed on. The compatibility with smart phones, iPads, other tablets, and Chromebooks make it a perfect tool for use in a 1:1 classroom.


Teaching Ideas and Suggestions:

We're going to be honest: we do Physics. That's why this is called The Physics Classroom website. And when we do the Teacher's Notes section for our Concept Builders, we typically have a lot to say ... and a lot of resources to point you to. We're not claiming to be ignorant of chemistry; we just don't have a lot of resources here at The Physics Classroom to point you to. And so this page is going to be a lot shorter than our usual page that accompanies our Physics Concept Builders. That's our honest confession.

A typical objective in the beginning of many chemistry courses is to gain a familiarity with the Periodic Table of Elements and the language that is associated with its organization. Having an early comfort with vocabulary terms like period, group, family, family names, transition metals, metal, metalloid, nonmetal, etc. will pay dividends as the course progresses. In this activity, students have to use the vocabulary to answer questions. There are three difficulty levels in the Concept Builder. Those three levels are differentiated as follows:
  • Apprentice Difficulty Level: Question Groups 1-4 ... Know where the four families of elements are located - alkali metals, alkaline earth metals, halogens, noble gases.  And know where the Lanthanides and Actinides are inserted into the periodic table. And interpret a reference to a period ... such as the "third period."
  • Master Difficulty Level I: Question Groups 1-8 ... Know everything from the Apprentice Difficulty Level. And additionally, know how to interpret a reference to a Group ... such as "Group 13 element." Know the term main group element or representative element and know where the transition metal block is located. Finally, be able to determine the number of protons and know the general trend for atomic mass.
  • Wizard Difficulty Level: Question Groups 1-12 ... Know everything from the Apprenticeand the Mater Difficulty Levels. And additionally, know the location of the period 2, 3, 4, and 5 metalloids. Know the two elements that are liquids and know the general trend in Group 17 regarding the solid, liquid, and gas trends. And be able to inspect atomic mass values in a table in order to identify any exception to the general trend in mass values.

The questions from each group are shown on a separate page. Teachers are encouraged to view the questions in order to judge which difficulty levels are most appropriate for their classes. We recommend providing students two or more options. For instance you might say the Master Difficulty Level earns you an A and the Master and the Wizard together earns you Bonus Points. There is some redundancy in the Difficulty Levels as noted in the description above. The reduncancy is designed to provide choice for teachers. The most basic content is included in the easier difficulty levels. The Wizard Difficuly Level includes some content that some teachers would not find to be as important.

Like all our Concept Builders, this Concept Builder utilizes a variety of strategies to make each student's experience different. The ordering of questions is random. The Question number assigned to each question is scrambled. For instance, two side-by-side students will not have the same question for question number three. And questions are organized into "groups" with questions within the same group being very similar (for instance, they target the same concept) but not identical. And finally, the answer options for Multiple Choice questions are always scrambled.

The Concept Builder also keeps track of student progress. It requires that students demonstrate a mastery of questions in each Question Group. In order to complete a difficulty level, a student must correctly analyze each question of that level. If a student's analysis is incorrect, then the student will have to correctly analyze the other question in the Question Group and then returrn to the originally-missed question in order to successfully complete the difficulty level. This approach provides the student extra practice on questions for which they exhibited difficulty. As a student progresses through a difficulty level, a system of stars and other indicators are used to indicate progress on the activity. Progress is displayed in the progress report on the right side of the Concept Builder. A star indicates a demonstration of mastery. A question with a red background indicates that the student has missed the question. And a question with a yellow background means that the student must get one more question from that Question Group correctly answered in order to obtain a star. When an activity is completed, the student will be awarded a Trophy. This Trophy is displayed on the Main Menu screen. These strategies make the Concept Builder an ideal addition to the 1:1 classroom and other settings in which computers are readily available. 

The most valuable (and most overlooked) aspect of this Concept Builder is the Help Me! feature. Each question group is accompanied by a Help page that discusses the specifics of the question. This Help feature transforms the activity from a question-answering activity into a concept-building activity. The student who takes the time to use the Help pages can be transformed from a guesser to a learner and from an unsure student to a confident student. The "meat and potatoes" of the Help pages are in the sections titled "How to Think About This Situation:" Students need to be encouraged by teachers to use the Help Me! button and to read this section of the page. A student that takes time to reflect upon how they are answering the question and how an expert would think about the situation can transform their naivete into expertise. 


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