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Chemistry specialists around for a chat? Avoiding misconceptions

(4 Posts)
Cathpot Tue 30-Jan-18 13:34:22

Hi- just been wandering about on RSC website ( look for free posters) and read one of their avoiding misconceptions articles which was on bonding. I’m not a chemistry specialist but in a small dept I’ve always taught all 3 sciences to GCSE- and therefore gently worry about misconceptions I might be carrying around unchallenged. Anyway this article was talking about how pupils are arriving at post 16 with unhelpful ideas about bonding and talked through various aspects. I’m teaching this to a top set yr 9 at the moment and a set 4 yr 10 so I was interested. Some of the things it was very against were things that I do eg explain ionic bonding as elections being given away by one atom and taken by another. I do then bang on about the electrostatic forces holding ionic structures together but the paper was suggesting that this way of teaching leads the kids to think of an ionic bond as between one set of atoms ( rather than producing forces between many) and that it should be avoided. Anyway the point of all this wittering is that i can’t see how it can be avoided because it’s what is on the mark scheme for the exams- ditto the idea of covalently bonding atoms sharing electrons which was also flagged as unhelpful. I’m wondering if there is any advice or coordination from chemists post 16 or above as to what should be taught at GCSE / be in exam mark schemes because that would seem to be the only way to drive changes? The models the paper was objecting to are exactly the ones in our syllabus!

OP’s posts: |
castasp Wed 31-Jan-18 16:16:19

I teach right up to A-level, and I teach it how you've describe i.e. ionic bonding = giving an electron away to another atom, and covalent bonding = sharing electrons.

I then also teach what the macro structures look like for eg. NaCl, diamond, graphite etc.

I don't know how else you're supposed to teach it? Does the RSC website suggest another way of teaching it? If they're not going to suggest how it should be taught, then I'd ignore the RSC website and carry on as you are.

Also, the GCSE mark schemes are all along the lines of "potassium gives one electron away to chlorine" or whatever, so if we teach them differently, they're going to get it all wrong.

Cathpot Wed 31-Jan-18 18:25:08

Ok, that’s reassuring, thanks . No it doesn’t really suggest anything else apart from emphasising that at the end of the day it’s all electrons and forces holding things together. As you say we have to teach them what the examiners want to hear- it was just odd that the article didn’t seem to acknowledge that’s why those models are taught. There were some things that were useful eg about the way we draw single ion interactions and then don’t really get across why the connection the the lattice .

OP’s posts: |
CraftyGin Wed 31-Jan-18 18:30:31

I’ve heard of Chemistry teachers talk about “holding hands”for bonding - to GCSE.

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