In two weeks, my second semester general chemistry students (majors) will be doing an in house lab on the synthesis and characterization of metal oxalates. We are trying to focus on writing skills and we focus on different parts of a paper. For the synthesis week, I would like to have my students look at papers in the literature (probably Inorg. Chem.) to see how syntheses are written up. I was thinking that groups of students would look at 3-4 papers (while waiting for their materials to precipitate) and try to pull out the generalities of how synthesis sections are structured and get a better feel for the language used. Then I would have them write a preliminary synthesis section before leaving for the day. (They can't do the whole thing because the compounds need to dry and need to be identified. However, by the next week, I can hopefully give them feedback.)
Has anyone already developed an activity like this that they'd be willing to share? I'll be happy to test it and comment on it. Otherwise, I'll pull something together and post the results. If you have any favorite well-written synthesis sections from the literature, please post a link!