How can I engage my students (and myself) for the last half of the semester? I read recently that the human attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds(link is external), which is down from 2000’s 12-second span. Currently, we are just beneath goldfish, who can attend to one thought for 9 seconds. I’m not sure of the methods of the research study, and I maintain a level of healthy skepticism. However, I admit my thoughts often spring from topic to topic like a bubble gum machine bouncy ball.
Many of you familiar with me will know I have a great affinity for academic competition and was more than a little bit upset when the International Chemistry Olympiad was scheduled for Karachi Pakistan in 2016.
One of my favorite things to talk about with my colleagues is the use of lecture demonstrations in teaching. There seems to be a push in my district to stop using chemicals whenever possible and get to computer simulations and video in place of wet chemistry. I don’t think they are thrilled with me since I can’t envision ever taking the chemistry out of chemistry.
There have been a TON of great ideas for guided inquiry (modeling instruction(link is external), POGIL(link is external), Target Inquiry(link is external), etc.). I do a ton of guided inquiry in my classroom. I have engaged in professional development on facilitating group work (through POGIL) and read what I hear is THE book on group work (which really is quite good- “Designing Groupwork(link is external)”).
A perfect storm starts to form. We are on the concept of moles and I have some students who are struggling mathematically. It is a rough time of year to get kids excited. Many students are struggling with ACT and SAT prep and as a teacher, I am tired of test...test...test. Also, I had about two dozen 2 liter bottle "pre forms" that I needed to find something to do with.
The chemistry of silver and the process in which silver becomes tarnished is explored. Take a new look at an old JCE Classroom Activity.
Flinn Scientific has a great elearning video series. Many of the videos have master teachers demonstrating some great labs and techniques that they do in the classroom. A general theme in many of the videos seems to be combining demonstrations, labs, calculations and lab practicals. The nice part about what occurs is that for whatever concept the students are doing, it is not enough to come up with an answer on paper. They have to use that answer for a prediction and then see if they are correct actually checking and manipulating material. This idea has added a new dimension to my classroom. Students who are tired of "pen and paper" work now get to get up and use their answers to mass something or find the volume of something and see if they are correct. I have tried to add more of these to my lessons.
As we pilot new laboratory activities in the classroom, my students and I are in constant dialogue. Not only do they leave feedback at the end of each lesson (what did you learn, what was your favorite part, what was you least favorite part), but we talk throughout the experiment. Recently our discussion was focused on the questions.