10.1.3 - Organization of the Periodic Table

Contributor: Oakland Unified School District

Type Category: Instructional Materials

Types: Lesson/Lesson Plan

Note: This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.


In this lesson, students develop a model for the organization of elements in the periodic table based upon their properties. By organizing various elements with their varying properties, such as state, reactivity and valence, students will understand the correlation between element properties and organization. This lesson is based on the 5E instructional model and allows students to discover and develop the model for periodic table organization via collaborative group work. This resource is part of a longer instructional sequence.

Intended Audience
Educator and learner

Educational Level
High School


Access Restrictions
Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectation

MS-PS1-1  Develop models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules and extended structures.

Clarification Statement:

Emphasis is on developing models of molecules that vary in complexity. Examples of simple molecules could include ammonia and methanol. Examples of extended structures could include sodium chloride or diamonds. Examples of molecular-level models could include drawings, 3D ball and stick structures, or computer representations showing different molecules with different types of atoms.

Assessment Boundary:

Assessment does not include valence electrons and bonding energy, discussing the ionic nature of subunits of complex structures, or a complete description of all individual atoms in a complex molecule or extended structure is not required.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation

Students observe patterns in the properties in different elements to work towards building a model of the periodic table.Through a couple of iterations of organizing these element card sets, students develop the model that the number of valence electrons determine the reactivity of an element. The video on Mendeleev- as a genius of periodic table serves as a hook to pique student interest.

Science and Engineering Practice

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice

Students arrange the element cards based upon different properties and refine this arrangement as they use different set of cards. Students then compare this model of arrangement with Mendeleev’s periodic table. Students are able to evaluate merits and limitations of their model of the periodic table compared with Mendeleev’s. This practice can be further reinforced by giving a small group task of arranging elements in order of reactivity based upon the number of valence electrons.

Disciplinary Core Idea

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea

This lesson leads students in organizing the elements based upon their similar chemical or physical properties. Students observe the correlation between valence electrons, their properties and arrangement in the periodic table. A possible summative performance task may be to predict the chemical reactivity of some of the elements, where reactivities are left blank based upon student understanding of correlation between number of valence electrons and reactivity.

Crosscutting Concept

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept

By arranging the element cards based on certain properties, students observe the patterns in element reactivity. Using this pattern, students are able to arrange the elements with unknown reactivities in the appropriate place. To further strengthen this crosscutting concept, the teacher may bring students’ attention to how the microscale property of valency impacts macroscale property of reactivity. Students maybe given a task to show the relationship patterns between the microscale property of valence to macroscale property of reactivity of the elements.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson effectively engages students in the three dimensions of NGSS. The lesson piques student interest with TED ED video, Mendeleev As a Genius of the Periodic Table. This lesson develops the core idea of correlation between position of an element in the periodic table and its properties through the explore and engage phase. Students further develop this model through explore and explain phase. The lesson emphasizes the crosscutting concept of patterns between number of valence electrons and reactivity. Students develop the understanding that the patterns in atom’s properties such as valence can impact the macro property of reactivity of an element.
  • Instructional Supports: The lesson provides adequate support in terms of instructional materials such as student handouts, video links and a teacher guide. The teacher guide is thorough and well organized. This lesson provides generalized accommodations for English Language Learners and Special Education students, but would benefit from including sample student work in the teacher guide.
  • Monitoring Student Progress: This lesson suggests questions for an exit slip to use as a formative assessment.In the exit slip, students reflect upon how their model of the periodic table changed over time and how it compares to the Mendeleev’s periodic table. Student understanding may be gauged better by giving an assessment such as an oral or written assignment on claim-evidence-reasoning or on micro and macro scale patterns that they observed.
  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: Technological Interactivity does not apply to this resource.