Tips for Using Middle School Chemistry

Learn a variety of ways of using middle school chemistry resources in your teaching.

Getting Started

There are many teaching resources in Middle School Chemistry that can be used in a variety of ways. To figure out what might work for you, a good first step is to go to the lessons page to see all the lessons in each of the six chapters. 

From the short description of the chapter and name of the lesson you will probably be able to quickly determine if a lesson might work for you. Just click on that lesson and take a look.

Reviewing A Lesson Plan

Get a quick overview by scrolling through the lesson, looking at the headings of the steps within the 5-Es and checking out the illustrations and simulations. It might be helpful to watch the Lesson Summary Video at the beginning of the lesson which reviews the main objectives, demonstrates the hands-on investigation, and explains the science concepts that students should learn.

Using A Lesson Plan

Once you think a lesson might work for you, you could consider teaching the lesson as written or incorporating different components into what you already teach. If you teach something similar, you might use the “Engage” to introduce your own activity or lesson. You could use the “Extend” part of the lesson and apply it to what you currently teach. You could use the activity in the “Explore” to add to your own experiment.

Using The Simulations

If you do the lesson as written, the simulations can be projected so students view them, but you control the action. Text accompanies each simulation so that it’s easy to cover the main points.  

You can explain the concepts while the simulation is running or start and stop as needed to explain so students understand. The simulation is also a useful guide for students to make their own drawings on the molecular level.

You could also incorporate a simulation into a lesson you already teach to help explain a concept on the molecular level. One popular approach is to embed a simulation into a PowerPoint or other presentation to be shown to students. 

You could also give students a link to a simulation (not the entire lesson) and ask them to use it to explain observations they made in a lesson on the molecular level.

Using The Student Activity Sheet

If you use the lesson as written, the Student Activity Sheet is a useful guide for students throughout the lesson. You can make modifications as needed and use your own copy of the Student Activity Sheet to guide students to answer questions, make drawings, discuss, and explain observations, and draw conclusions.

The activity sheet acts as a formative assessment to help you see if students understand the main points of the lesson and helps students express themselves using scientific thinking.

Using the Student Reading, Key concepts, and Test Bank

  • The Student Reading reviews all the key science concepts from the lessons in the context of the investigations students conducted in the lessons. Have students read the Student Reading and check off the key concepts covered. Some teachers modify the key concepts into questions and have students answer them to reinforce their understanding. 
  • Use the test bank to make a Chapter Test using a combination of different types of questions. You can always delete, add, or modify questions depending on what the class covered in a chapter. 

Using The Online Lessons 

It may be difficult to conduct all the lessons you want with the class time that you have. Assigning Online Lessons can work well for covering these lessons. You may also want to assign an online lesson to a student who was absent. 

Online Assignments

The 5-E Approach

Lesson Plan Structure in

There are many ways to structure an effective lesson plan. The 5-E approach works particularly well for hands-on lessons in which students investigate phenomena in science.

Since every lesson in focuses on hands-on experiments that explore students’ observations of phenomena, the 5-E lesson plan structure is used for every lesson. 

Here’s an overview of the 5-E approach in

  • Engage – The Engage section is usually a short class discussion, quick demonstration, or mini-activity to introduce the phenomenon that students will be investigating. The Engage gives the class a common experience and is used to develop the “Question to Investigate” which drives each lesson. At the end of the Engage section, students should be curious about the phenomenon they observed and the “Question to Investigate” and ready to explore. 
  • Evaluate – The Evaluate component of every lesson in takes place during the entire lesson through the students’ work on the Student Activity Sheet. These are formative assessments used by the teacher to guide students by assessing whether they are participating in the experiment, recording observations, creating pictures, answering questions, and drawing reasonable conclusions. More summative assessments are available on the Chapter level through the Test Bank for each chapter. 
  • Explore – In the Explore section, teachers guide students to design a scientific way to explore the question they are investigating. This is usually done through leading/guiding questions so that students can help develop the design of the experiment. During this time, there are usually discussions about identifying and controlling variables, the importance of designing a fair test, and making and recording accurate observations on the Student Activity Sheet accompanying every lesson. As students think about and share their observations, they are ready for an explanation.
  • Explain – The Explain section always uses atoms and molecules to explain students’ observations and to answer the “Question to Investigate”. In this section, the teacher uses molecular illustrations, simulations, videos, and students’ reasoning to help the class develop an explanation of the phenomenon on the level of atoms and molecules. There is teacher background information and notes for the teacher supporting the molecular level explanations. 
  • Extend – The Extend section is often a short follow-up activity or hypothetical situation that uses concepts covered in the main lesson applied in a different context. It is designed to strengthen student understanding by using what they’ve learned to make sense of a new observation or phenomenon.   

We hope the 5-E approach in helps give the lessons a logical flow, making them easy to follow and use for teachers, and an engaging and effective learning experience for students.