My First Lab of the Year

measuring volume and mass of water

My first experiment involves measuring the density of water. Each group of two kids is assigned a specific volume of water from 10 to 100 mLs on the tens. They simply measure the mass of an empty graduated cylinder and then add the water and find the mass again. Once they have their data they go around the room and find another group that has one of the volumes that they need and get the data from them and record their names. Once complete they generate a graph of the data and answer a few simple questions. The whole procedure can be completed in about 20 minutes.

Time required: 

10 minutes prep

20 minutes classtime

Building a Blended Culture in a Secondary Science Classroom

building a blended culture

During my first year of teaching (in Indianapolis, IN), I was inspired by some research I had read as well as some other teachers in the Indy area who were flipping their classes. I was at a small parochial school where parental and administrative support for technology inclusion was present. My principal outfitted me with the tools I needed to “flip” my classes and record tutorial videos. Things went pretty well. It was a learning curve for many but I also had good feedback from students and parents.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Life as an international school chemistry teacher

Lowell - International School teacher

The advantages of international schools vary by individual, but certainly the opportunity to travel and see the world is by far the most common reason teachers move overseas. Smaller class sizes are typical, along with fewer teaching periods in your schedule. As an example, I average about 20 students per class right now, teaching 5 of 8 class periods. This is certainly less than my average of 30-35, teaching six of eight class periods at my last public school in the U.S.

Classroom Culture - Experiment on Day 1

Fortune Teller Fish

What is the very first impression that I want to make on students? Do I want to pass out a bunch of papers about the syllabus, rules and policies? Do I want kids to be thinking and acting like scientists? Deep down inside, my hope is always for the second idea. I decided to steal an idea I got from master chemistry teacher Linda Ford at an local ACS meeting. Linda introduced a group of teachers to the "Miracle Fortune Teller Fish".

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Mini-Project Sequence: Orange Peels and Polarity

students working with balloons

The author shares a series of resources she has created that are built around a post here on ChemEd X about popping a balloon with an orange peel and the concept of polarity.

Building Buy-In Through a Growth Mindset Classroom Culture

Mindset poster

When you incorporate non-traditional pedagogies and grading systems into your classroom like Modeling Instruction and standards-based grading, you need to be concerned about buy-in from students and parents. Implementation without buy-in leads to frustrated students, parents and most of all teachers. I have saved myself from this frustration by establishing a growth-mindset classroom culture from day one. Here are my tips for building a classroom where students feel comfortable to fail.

Editors Note: This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Especially JCE: August 2017

Cover of August 2017 issue of JCE

Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the August 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.

Accepting Our Role in Developing Science Literacy

science literacy

Though we may recognize its presence, teachers, scientists, and policymakers still disagree on the most practical and effective methods for developing scientific literacy in our students. Herein lies our challenge as science educators—what can we do in the classroom to create experiences for our students that involve the understanding and appreciation of the most valuable traits associated with being scientifically literate? This article includes resources and a sample assignment that will hopefully get all of us off on a good start.