As part of a two-week Chemistry Modeling Workshop™ in Houston, TX, I had the opportunity to read the Journal of Chemical Education article “When Atoms Want” by Vicente Talanquer of the University of Arizona. I researched Dr. Talanquer and discovered he created a collection of simulations called Chemical Thinking Interactives (CTI). These digital tools illustrate many chemistry topics with a focus on the particulate nature of matter.
In a recent post, I shared sample quiz questions as to how I have differentiated assessment within the mole unit. Here, I share a specific multi-day sequence within the stoichiometry unit. I have written extensively about the project that drives this unit (within the following blog posts: Why consider trying project based learning?, Backwards planning your PBL unit - An Overview of an Entire Unit and What ARE my students actually learning during this long term project (PBL)?), but very little about specific learning tasks. Below is a two day sequence of stoichiometry practice that I set up in my classroom. Stations are set up around the room and students rotate as necessary.
POGIL: ~1 hour
Lecture: ~30 minutes
Mastery check, differentiated practice, project planning: ~2 hours
In this simple trick, colors are made to "magically" appear and disappear on a straw. This science experiment is very easy to do...if you know your chemistry!
I saw the process of students thinking like scientists but what I struggled with, and I imagine many others do as well, is how students work together in groups. Yes...I know it is important but is this a big battle that I want to fight? I was fortunate to meet several people who have developed some wonderful “tricks of the trade” to help students work as “teams”.
POGIL stands for "Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning". Over the years I have accidentally and somewhat intentionally been using POGIL activities. Students must work in teams, examine models and answer questions that become more complex based on the models and students hopefully build knowledge. I have had my ups and downs. It has been messy. Bottom line...here is what almost always happens...I eavesdrop on students talking like scientists. It is student centered and the comments would never come from students if I sat back and lectured. Somehow, I wound up at this conference for "advanced" POGIL practitioners. I am trying to keep it a secret that I have never really been advanced at anything and am hoping that by the time anyone figures this out the conference will be over.
I decided to take the time and to do some needed inventory. I wanted to match equipment to its designated table. Next, I wanted to make sure that each of my eight lab tables had the proper equipment needed to eliminate no more missing equipment. Sure enough, as I began the inventory project, I had several tables missing equipment, so once everything was laid out and counted and organized then I had to make sure it was going to stay that way. I had several rolls of colored tape and it was easy to then begin marking each of the pieces of equipment and glassware with tape.
Say the words standardized test to most educators and you will likely notice a minor gag reflex. While I completely sympathize with this reaction given the frequently labeled testing culture that’s been far too often forced upon us within the past 15 years, I think it is appropriate to take a step back and recognize the meaningful role a standardized test can have on our curriculum and instruction. After a recent experience using an exam from the ACS Division of Chemical Education Examinations Institute1, I was able to recognize that meaningful role. So, the purpose of this article is to provide useful information for anyone interested in the exam implementation process.
I would like to share a new product from Atomsmith, the Atomsmith Classroom Online. It is run in HTML 5, and thus no problems with Java, Flash, or any other system. With a price of 10.99 per year for teacher access and 1 dollar for each student, it is within reach of many school budgets.