Middle School Learners

It takes patience and special care to promote effective learning with youth between the ages of 11-14.  These young people are so full of life, ebullience and general curiosity that it is hard for more mature individuals, adults, to not only understand their perspectives, but to keep up with them.  Here is an article I wrote on my blog that expresses this effectively.  https://benjohnsonedd.wordpress.com/2021/02/05/middle-school-mindset/

Anticipating

Anticipating the attitudes and characteristics of youth ages 11-14 will make our job of inspiring them to learn much easier.  Knowing that youth of this age are establishing their independence and will most likely resist directives, providing choices is the obvious solution.  A middle school aged student is fully able to choose what to learn and how to learn it as long as the choices are presented with specific options.

For example:  13 year old learners should be able to identify properties of pure elements and be able to distinguish different types of matter and know of their structure in terms of atoms, as well as chemical compounds that are formed of molecules.

Menu Options

Build/Create

  • Build three different Atomic models of pure elements.  Build three models of common molecules that form compounds.
  • Create a laboratory experiment to identify three elements.  Create a different experiment to compose three compound from those elements.  Include atomic structures and molecules.
  • Paint a water color, or other medium picture of three elements and three compounds that illustrates their structures and characteristics.
  • Create a system to describe three elements by only using hand, facial, and body movements.  Show through body movement how those elements combine to form molecular compounds.
  • Create a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation describing your three favorite elements, and three compounds made from them. Include atomic structures and molecules.  Present it live or recorded.

Write

  • Write a story about someone discovering three completely new elements, and three never seen before compounds.  Include possible atomic structures and molecular structures.
  • Compose a poem about three compounds and three elements and their specific characteristics.  Include atomic structures and molecules.  Present the poem in person or in a video.
  • Write an essay on why you believe that everyone should know about elements and compounds.  Give three examples of elements and compounds they should know.
  • Create a scientific newsletter highlighting three elements and three molecules, their characteristics and their atomic and molecular structures.
  • Create a story about a conversation between three atoms and three compounds of your choosing that highlights their particular characteristics and atomic and molecular structures.

Research

  • Create a timeline of historical discoveries concerning elements and compounds.  Choose at least three elements and three compounds.
  • Identify three scientists that discovered elements, and compounds. Include atomic structures and molecules.
  • Read a scientific journal article about chemical structures of a particular compound and summarize the information in outline form.
  • Investigate three elements and three compounds that are commonly used in manufacturing. Write a report on how they are used and include atomic structures and molecules.
  • Identify three elements are are necessary for life and three compounds derived from those elements.  Explain your reasoning for your choices including characteristics, and chemical structure.
  • Investigate compounds in foods and elements listed on the labels.  Identify three common elements and three common compounds and explain their atomic and molecular structure.
  • Look at vitamins vs minerals and check their compounds  and atoms that compose the molecules.  Specify what three essential vitamins and minerals we need and why.

MYM- Make your own menu

This is in no way a comprehensive menu of all possible learning activities associated with the objective.  I am sure that you could probably come up with many more options that match the interests and likes of your young learners.

For example. if your learner is interested in bicycles, you could suggest that he or she investigate what elements and compounds make the strongest, lightweight frames.  If your learn is interested in fashion, investigating make up compositions, dyes, and colors could be a choice.  There is no end to what choices you can combine in a menu.  Just be sure to make each option, equal in effort and learning outcome.  Also don’t play the game of making one option obviously easier than the others, just because you want them to choose that option.  It will backfire on you.  Also don’t include a large list (like the above).  Only give three or four equal choices.

Providing choice for learners between 11 and 14 will help them to enjoy learning and to exercise their independence in productive ways.  It will ease the tensions inherent in power structures such as teacher and parent and will allow effective relationships for more learning.

To learn more about how to help this age of learner, read my shore book on How to Be Successful at Home School for 12-15 Year Olds