Teaching Guide for Table Manners: Basics of the Periodic Table of Elements

Lesson summaries
Instructional use scenarios
Assessment and evaluation
Bibliography and webliography


This module for 7th and 8th grade students will help them develop an understanding of basic chemistry concepts and the Periodic Table of Elements that will include:

• the nature of chemistry as the central science
• the structure and classification of matter
• the interactions of matter and the forces that cause that interaction
• how chemistry affects the daily lives of everyone
• hands-on use of the Periodic Table of Elements.

Currently a set of seven lessons is being developed for this module, focusing on the history of the periodic table and basics of chemistry through hands-on learning using our Interactive Periodic Table of Elements. Additional lessons will be identified for inclusion in future development cycles.


Lesson summaries

Mendeleyev's Discovery

This lesson on the history of the periodic table centers on the story of Dmitry Mendeleyev, the Russian chemist credited with developing the Periodic Table of Elements. He tells about his family and growing up in Siberia, and how he came to organize the elements the way that he did in 1869. Mendeleyev's periodic table looks quite different from the one commonly used today because so much more knowledge about the nature of matter has expanded the modern periodic table. However, Mendeleyev knew there was information scientists were still missing, so he arranged his table with gaps so that new elements could be added when they were discovered. His periodic table proved to be correct. Within a few years of developing the table, the elements he predicted would be discovered were identified by other chemists throughout Europe. The story emphasizes the nature of scientific inquiry and history of science.

Mutiny on the Table!

This lesson familiarizes students with the main groups of the periodic table: alkali metals, alkali earth metals, transition metals, other metals, nonmetals, and noble gases. The lesson narrator is hydrogen, the first element. Hydrogen and the noble gases serve as "judge and jury" while the groups make their case as to why they should be the first in the Periodic Table of Elements. The first element from each group describes the property of its group and common uses to persuade readers that they are more important than the other groups. Throughout the lesson, students are asked to write their opinions about whether the different groups made a strong enough case to deserve getting a new position on the table. The lesson includes access to an Interactive Periodic Table of Elements for students to engage in hands-on exploration of the periodic table.



Each lesson comes with a teaching guide that highlights specific goals covered by the lesson. Please refer to the lesson teaching guide for this information.

Chicago WebDocent lessons are written as stories and include a printable, online journal for students to respond to questions; thus all lessons align to the following Illinois State Goals for Language Arts:

State Goal 1

Read with understanding and fluency.

State Goal 2

Understand explicit and implicit meaning in literature representing individual, community, national, world, and historical perspectives.

State Goal 3

Write to communicate for a variety of purposes.

All lessons include a additional activities for extending the lesson offline and web links for conducting research. These may cover additional Language Arts goals:

State Goal 4

Listen and speak effectively in a variety of situations.

State Goal 5

Use the Language Arts for inquiry and research to acquire, organize, analyze, evaluation, and communicate information.


Science Goals

This module aligns to the following Illinois State Goals for Science:

State Goal 11

Have a working knowledge of the processes of scientific inquiry and technological design to investigate questions, conduct experiments, and solve problems.

State Goal 12

Have a working knowledge of the fundamental concepts and principles of the life, physical, and earth/space sciences and their connections.

State Goal 13

Have a working knowledge of the relationships among science, technology, and society.



Reading at a 7th grade level
Use of Internet browsers
Use of mouse


Instructional use scenarios

Consult the lesson teaching guide for suggested pre-activities to prepare students for the lesson. The lessons include online journal questions and an interactive dictionary. It is helpful to preview these features before starting the lesson with students.

Computer lab

Seat students in pairs at computers, a strong reader with a student who needs help reading and have them take turns reading together OR seat students singly at computers.

It is helpful for the teacher and/or tech coordinator to start the lesson by reading through a few pages or a section (or have students take turns reading). If there is a projector in the lab, the teacher can also model navigation and interactive elements for students as they go through the first pages as a group.

The lessons include an online journal. Teachers may model note taking, as this is a skill that takes practice. Encourage students to write down anything of interest in their journals as well as unfamiliar terms. Students working in pairs can each type in their answers in the online journal. When more than one student is answering in the journal, they should write their name by their answer to identify their response from others.

Set a goal for students so they read up to a certain point in the lesson or for a certain amount of time, for example, "read up to page 13" or "we will stop in 15 minutes." The progress bar at the top of the screen allows teachers to walk around the room and quickly notice if students are falling behind or moving too fast; it also indicates which pages have an activity the student has not completed, such as a journal question or interactive.

When students reach their assigned goal, stop and ask how students are doing. You could prepare questions related to the content, or simply check in to see if students are having difficulties with navigation or reading.

Depending on the reading level of students, it may take more than one class session to complete a lesson. An approach to completing a lesson if time is a concern is to form groups among your students to read a few sections of the lesson. Then convene the entire class to report on their sections to the rest of the class. In between reports students could make predictions about what will happen next.

Teachers are strongly encouraged to allow for discussion time after the lesson so students can reflect and give feedback on what they learned.



One or more workstations

Be sure to model navigation and identify interactive features for students before they begin. Arrange students into
small groups with the assignment of reading 3 or 4 sections of the lesson. Each group takes turns on the computer/computers to complete their assignment. The group can respond to questions in the online journal, taking turns typing in their answers or responding as a group. (When more than one student is answering in the journal, they should write their name by their answer to identify their response from others.) Convene the entire class to report on their sections to the rest of the class. Reports can take the form of presentations or can be given as a re-enactment of what students read. In between reports ask students to predict what will happen next. Students may be incentivized to have time on the computer alone to read parts of the lesson they did not study as a group.

Teachers are strongly encouraged to allow for discussion time after the lesson so students can reflect and give feedback on what they learned.

One workstation and a projector:

This arrangement allows for group participation in the lessons. The teacher may lead students through parts of the lesson and ask for volunteer readers from the audience. Students may volunteer to run the mouse, read, or try out the interactives. Many of the lessons are written with multiple voices, and are excellent choices for presenting the lesson like a play with students assigned roles (check lesson teaching guides under instructional uses for lessons that fit this category well). The journal questions can be provided to students beforehand so that they may write down their individual responses during the group session.
Students may be incentivized to have time on the computer alone to read the lesson.

As always, teachers are strongly encouraged to allow for discussion time after the lesson so students can reflect and give feedback on what they learned.


Assessment and evaluation

Each lesson comes with various forms of assessment.

1. Online, printable journals accessed from within the lesson presents students with higher order thinking questions. Teachers can collect these at the end of the lesson.

2 . Many lessons include interactives and other activities that allow students to self-test. These are not captured forms of assessments, but offer opportunities for students to challenge themselves without the pressure of testing.

3 . The list of supporting materials that appears on the first page of each lesson offers other evaluation and assessment activities. These include:

· Teaching guide - check the lesson teaching guide for additional suggestions for assessment and evaluation.

· Additional Activities - these are suggested activities to extend the lesson offline. Additional activities include presentations, hands-on projects, research projects, and discussion topics.

· Web Links, which offer a list of high-quality, trustworthy resources for students to conduct online research, including links to resources available on eCUIP, the Digital Library.

Other ideas

We recommend a field trip to the Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum and Museum of Science and Industry as part of learning about the history of science and chemistry. Information about these and other museums can be found on our Museum Partners page.

We recommend a final project activity to clarify student's understanding of the big ideas presented in the module and to address any learning gaps.
Teachers should be prepared to coordinate a discussion of the final project, and may wish to devote separate class periods for completing it.


Bibliography and webliography

Albert Stwerka, A Guide to the Elements, rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Patricia L. Barnes-Svarney, The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference. New York: The Stonesong Press Inc. and The New York Public Library, 1995.