ALEX Learning Activity

Matter Matters! ABC Brainstorm

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Katrina McGrady
System:Talladega County
School:Talladega County Board Of Education
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 635
Matter Matters! ABC Brainstorm
Digital Tool/Resource:
Alphabet Organizer on ReadWriteThink
Web Address – URL:

During this before activity, the students' prior knowledge will be assessed and activated by completing an ABC brainstorm of matter using the Alphabet Organizer tool. The digital tool allows the student to create an alphabet chart or book using words and pictures. The students can have voice and choice by choosing to create an alphabet chart with five words per letter or with a word, note, and picture for each letter. When the project is complete, the students can save their work, print their work, or share their work through an e-mail link. This web tool requires a computer with internet access and Adobe Flash Player.  

This activity was created as a result of the GAP Resource Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
1 ) Analyze patterns within the periodic table to construct models (e.g., molecular-level models, including drawings; computer representations) that illustrate the structure, composition, and characteristics of atoms and molecules.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.8.1- Identify parts of an atom (i.e. protons, neutrons, electrons); recognize that the periodic table is organized to show patterns of common traits of elements; locate metals and nonmetals on the periodic table.

Learning Objectives:

Essential Question:  Why do we need to study matter?

The students will brainstorm terms and pictures that are essential to their understanding of the structure, properties, organization, trends, and nomenclature of matter. The students will justify their selection of terms by presenting their assigned letter to the class upon completion of the activity.  

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

Essential Question: Why do we need to study matter?

To activate and assess prior knowledge, the students will divide into pairs to create an ABC brainstorm digital booklet using scientific terms that are associated with matter. The teacher will assign each pair of students their own letter(s) of the alphabet. They may use terms describing the structure, properties, organization, trends, and nomenclature.  Depending on the desired outcome of the lesson, the teacher can guide students by giving limitations on topics that the students can use. For example, the teacher could limit the ABC brainstorm to intrinsic and extrinsic properties of matter or atomic structure and chemical bonding. Because an ABC brainstorm includes words that start with each letter of the alphabet, keeping the topic broad may give a teacher more of an idea of how much their students really know about matter and elicit a faster response from each pair of students. A class ABC brainstorm will be created using the alphabet organizer to compile each student's contribution to the activity. After entering the word and picture for their assigned letter, the students will briefly present and justify their ideas to the class. During presentations, the students should take notes that they can later use after during activity of the lesson to answer the essential question and describe why matter matters. 

**Since the alphabet organizer tool requires Flash Player, it will not play on a Chromebook. The teacher can use a laptop to connect to an interactive board or projection screen and have the students input their work into the tool there for the presentation.

Assessment Strategies:

During this activity, the teacher will use student responses to formatively (informally) assess student understanding and any possible misconceptions about matter that the students may have. Then, the teacher can use this information to redirect these misconceptions in the lesson.

This checklist can be used to judge their brainstorm responses:

1. Does your word describe a structure, property, organization, trend, or nomenclature of matter? 

2. Does your word and picture help answer the essential question: Why do we need to study matter? 

3. Did you complete the ABC Brainstorm for your letter of the alphabet? 

Advanced Preparation:

The teacher will need to ensure that a laptop with internet access and Adobe Flash Player is connected to a smart screen or projector so that the whole class can view student responses. 

If the teacher wants to purposely pair students for the activity, student pairs will need to be created in advance. 

The teacher may want to make a slide to explain the activity or checklist to the students to communicate guidelines/expectations. 

The teacher should be familiar with the digital tool before the start of the lesson. 

Variation Tips (optional):

This activity could also be used as an after activity to review students on terms used during a particular lesson or group of lessons under the broad topic of matter and its interactions. 

Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
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