The Metals, Nonmetals, and Metalloids 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.

This Concept Builder was constructed with two straight-forward objectives in mind. First, students should be able to distinguish between metals, nonmetals, and metalloids when presented with a few chemical or physical properties. And second, students should be able to classify an element as being a metal, nonmetal, or metalloid based on its location in the periodic table. The three activities of this Concept Builder target these three objectives.

The three activities in the Concept Builder are differentiated as follows:
  • Properties: Question Groups 1-4 ... Two or more chemical and/or physical properties of an element are described. Learners must use the information to determine if the element is a metal, a nonmetal, or a metalloid.
  • Triple Play: Question Groups 5-8 ... Learners are presented with the names and symbols of three elements; one is a metal, one is a nonmetal, and one is a metalloid. They must decide which element falls into each category.
  • Location, Location, Location: Question Groups 9-12 ... Students are presented with the names and symbols of eight elements. They must determine which of the given elements are metals (or nonmetals, or metalloids, depending on which Question Group it is).

While it is not necessary to do all three activities, they are structured in such a manner that the first activity is easiest and the last activity is most difficult. The questions from each group are shown on a separate page. Teachers are encouraged to view the questions in order to judge which activities are most appropriate for their classes. 

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 presented in a scrambled order.

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 thestudent must get one more questoin 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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