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Basic Concepts Electricity

This curriculum unit is designed to teach a few basic concepts of electricity to middle school students. The teaching methods will include experimentation, demonstrations, analogies, discussion, work sheets and vocabulary review. Supplementary materials such as handouts and vocabulary cards will be presented in the unit. It is believed that all modalities should be used as often as possible in order to enable the students to understand the concepts and to be able to associate the concepts with the appropriate vocabulary. Too often a child does understand a concept but cannot demonstrate that he understands because he doesn�t know the correct words to express that the material has indeed been learned. The only source of electricity that will be used in experiments and demonstrations is a pair of 1.5 volt batteries. No matter what other references for experiments are used, batteries should be the only energy supply used by middle school, and possibly older and more experienced, students. The instructor must regularly remind the students that large voltages can be shocking and too often fatal.

Once a lesson is taught, the pertinent vocabulary should be ret aught numerous times through the use of flash cards. Most lessons will introduce no more than three new words and their associated concepts. Each new word or term should be written on one side of a piece of construction paper and the definition should be written on the back. The students should be able to provide the term when the definition is shown and the definition when the word or term is shown. It is suggested that the students become thoroughly familiar with the key words and terms through the following use of the flash cards:

1) The teacher or student helper shows one side;

2) the class reads the words aloud
3) and then, the class as a group, reads the second side aloud
4) Individual students should be called on when they feel that they are ready to recite the opposite side of each term and definition.

5) All vocabulary cards should be reviewed at the beginning of each new lesson in this unit. Although this memorizing technique may seem too elementary to some teachers, students enjoy the method and take pride in being able to quickly associate the appropriate vocabulary word with a concept that they have just learned.

Since most of the class work is hands on activities and discussion, it may be useful for the students to do the simple work sheets, or similar written reinforcement as a way to review the day�s concepts and vocabulary. Students should never be expected to fill in work sheets until the sheets have been reviewed, even answered, in class, even if the material has been thoroughly taught, because the students will not have a textbook or reference book in which they can look up answers on their own.

In a few cases more than one lesson will be devoted to the teaching of a single concept. The reason that this will be done is to make sure that the ideas that seem so simple to some students are really understood by these students and by all the students.

Even when the children have demonstrated that they have understood a lesson, the teacher should always review what was taught the time before. Children should be called upon to discuss the previous lesson, to suggest analogies, and to share the answers on their work sheets.

Included in this unit is a list of all the materials that will be needed to teach all of the lessons. A current price list and local places where the products can be obtained will also be included. It has been my experience that if I am missing that single ingredient for a demonstration, I can never find the time to shop for it, so the demonstration is never presented. It is hoped that this shopping list will encourage teachers to set up their �bag of tricks� in a single day so that they can confidently teach the whole unit with a minimum of wasted time.

Although it would be convenient for the teacher to jump immediately into the teaching of static and then current electricity, there are a few concepts that must be taught before this curriculum unit can be presented. They are the following: What is matter (which will be dealt with below), and what are atoms, elements and compounds? These concepts will be briefly (and therefore, inadequately) introduced in this curriculum unit because of their importance for the understanding of electricity. But because the emphasis here is on electricity, it is strongly recommended that these concepts, i.e., atoms and less importantly, elements and compounds, be taught before this unit




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