Social Networking Lesson

The lesson plan below is an example of how social networking apps and websites can be utilized by science teachers to boost student engagement, assess content and encourage collaboration with other students across the globe.  Specifically, this lesson focuses on ionic compound formation and relevance in the real world.

Lesson Objectives
Students will:
  • Apply their knowledge of ionic compound formation
  • Use Twitter to search for their teacher-assigned anion/cation partner by Tweeting its chemical characteristics (and searching for their partner's Tweet describing them).
  • Use ePals and Skype to communicate with their partner at another school.
  • Create a Google Presentation and a VoiceThread with a partner describing the chemical compound they form.
  • Comment on three other pairs' VoiceThread presentations.
Previous Knowledge
It is assumed that students have already learned how to create ionic compounds from cations and anions.  This activity is an application and extension of this knowledge.

Lesson Plan
1. Use ePals to connect to other classrooms worldwide.
  • Create an ePals account.
  • ePals is an online platform where teachers and students can connect and collaborate.  Use your school email address to create an account and teacher profile describing your students and your educational objectives.  Below is an example of my ePals profile:

  • Be sure to include specific information about the project.
  • Use the "Find Classroom" tab to begin searching for other chemistry classrooms across the globe.  Reach out to those teachers that are likely candidates for this project.  Explain the Lesson Objectives.  Below are two instructional videos from YouTube introducing ePals:

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

  • Once you find a teacher at another school, create a list of ionic compounds that would be interesting for students to "form" and research.  Some suggestions: NaCl, CaCO3, Fe2O3, Na2CO3, MgCl2, Ca3(PO4)2, NaOCl, NaOH, Mg(OH)2, NH4NO3, NaHCO3 and MgSO4
  • Divide each of the ionic compounds up into their component cation and anion (e.g. NaCl becomes Na+ and Cl-).
  • Create student pairs: one classroom gets all of the positively charged cations and one classroom gets all of the negatively charged anions.
  • Work with the teacher at the other school to create student pairs, and tell each student which oppositely charged ion they are looking for (but do not tell them the name of the student).  (They are going to have to write a description of the ion in the next step.)
2. Have each student create a Skype account.  Skype will allow student pairs to videochat later in the project.  My Skype profile page is shown below:

3. Have Students Use Twitter To Find Each Other
  • Each student is told the specific ion of opposite charge they need to locate.
  • Give students time to research both the element they are and the element they are looking for.
  • Create a Twitter account for yourself and have your students do the same.  Twitter can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom.  The "Twitter" section of the blog Classroom Technology is an excellent resource if you're new to Twitter or looking for ideas.  An screenshot of my homepage and Twitter handle @ninjachemistry is shown below.  You can see that I'm following Neil deGrasse Tyson:

  • Create a hashtag that is specific to your project that ALL students will use.
  • Instruct students to Tweet a description of the element they are looking for (using 140 characters or less) without using the specific name of the element, ending with the class project hashtag. Their Tweet should be based on the information gained in their research.  It should describe a particularly well-known chemical property of the element.
  • After Tweeting, students then search for the Tweet describing them, noting the handle of the person who sent it.
  • They should then Tweet that individual directly (with a new hashtag), asking them if they are looking for element "X" (the element they are).  If they are, then they have found their match (making the desired ionic compound).  If the person is not the element they are looking for, they continue the search.
  • Once a match has been made, the teacher gives his/her student the email and Skype contact of his/her partner.

4. Students Use VoiceThread to and Google Presentation to Create a Report on Their Compound
  • Create an account on VoiceThread, a web-based platform that allows for narrated presentations and asynchronous commenting and discussions.  There is a fee involved, but it allows you to create a safe, secure environment for your students.  Once your account (and your students' accounts) are created, create a VoiceThread with multiple "pages," one for each compound.  Here is an example of a VoiceThread I made introducing myself to my classmates in a graduate level Educational Technology class.  I can listen to/watch my classmates' responses by clicking on the their icons:

  • Share the link to the VoiceThread with your students.
  • Here is tutorial from YouTube for how VoiceThread works:

YouTube Video

  • Student pairs use Skype to discuss and plan a presentation on the compound that they "make" by bonding with each other.  The presentation should include:
    • The correct chemical formula for the compound
    • The Stock name and any common name(s) for the compound
    • If and where the compound is found in nature or if it is predominantly synthetic and what its industrial use is
    • What uses and properties the compound has
    • Photographs and molecular models of the substance
  • One student creates a Google Presentation, then shares editing privileges with the other student.  The co-create the presentation, meeting all of the requirements described above.  The presentation is uploaded onto their compound's VoiceThread page, then narrated by the students.  You can require your students to add a video or a voice narration.
  • Once all student pairs' VoiceThreads are made, each student is then required to watch three other pairs' presentations.  After watching the presentation, each student must pose one question that arose while learning about the compound.  The presenting pair must then respond to and answer each question.
  • In order to interact with/receive feedback from a professional, either or both of the following can be incorporated into the lesson:
    • One of the teachers can pose a question/comment on each student pair's VoiceThread (to which the student pair must respond).
    • The classroom teachers can invite a professional scientist from the community or the local university to pose a question/comment on each pair's VoiceThread (to which the student pair must respond).