You label the spdf blocks, and students are understanding right along with you. Then, you start explaining about reading the periodic table and it's like a DJ hit the rewind sound on a vinyl track.
You have exactly 32 face staring at you like you've lost your mind and they are giving up.
I know you win back 60% of them by the end of class, because you are that awesome. But, what if you didn't have to lose them to start with?
What if there was an easier way?
Start by teaching your students the periodic table for electron configuration using color. They need to label and outline the s block with pink, the p block with green, the d block with purple, and the f block with orange.
You can choose other colors, but the important part is to color code the blocks. Read more on this blog post.
This is basic, but color coding will help all of your students, especially those with reading disabilities. (p and d can look confusing to them!)
Flag Complete Subshells
When we look at the periodic table, many times we are just picking out information that we need for a problem.
This is different, which is why some students freak out at first. We read the quantum periodic table from left to right.
To make this easier, use a race car analogy.
Have them color the last element of each subshell checkered patterned. You can tell students these "laps" are complete subshells.
Next, have them draw a red flag on the element they are trying to find the electron configuration of.
Write Down Completed Subshells
Tell students that they are driving a race car from the 1s1 position. They need to get to the red flag.
So they must “drive” across the periodic table from left to right, in the right "lane", one period at a time.
But they must stop at each “checkpoint”, and write that location on their paper.
Write Down the Finish Line Location
The last location they must write is the red flag location. If they make it to the finish line, they should have a complete electron configuration.
Often when we teach electron configuration, we don’t have a good periodic table set up. Make sure the spdf blocks are labeled, and preferably color coded.
Next, make sure students see the “checkpoints”, or full subshells, and label the “finish line”.
These visual cues will lead up to a much more clear lesson. Students will leave your class with a clear reference sheet they can use throughout the chapter and year.
And that will save you time on repeating yourself. Every teacher wants that! If you want to save more time, check out these electron configuration activities and games:
Electron Configuration Game (Virtual and In Person and No Prep Options)
Beginning Electron Configuration
7 Electron Configuration Activities
Hi! I'm CoScine. I write chemistry worksheets for visual learners. They are fun, easy to follow, and most of them are quick to grade. Since I started my teaching career at the college level, these aren't just simple chemistry. These worksheets are hard core science made fun.