A few years ago, we launched a weather balloon during our summer science camp. The balloon reached an altitude of 30 km (100,000 ft)! Among other things, this project ended up being a great way to teach campers about the gas laws and how atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude.
We all have plans. As teachers we plan every week and worry about time, depth, amount, types of assessment and state mandates. Most importantly, are the kids learning? We give it our best shot. Sometimes, we have to go to plan B.
Instead of focusing on an instructional label, why don’t we focus on what we are trying to accomplish with our students? Our classrooms should be a platform for students to actively explain science practices using evidence and no matter how you define your instruction, we cannot deny our students this opportunity. With the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, our students will be assessed based on performance expectations that not only link disciplinary knowledge, but scientific practice, and crosscutting concepts as well. “These performance expectations guide the development of assessments: when a standard encompasses all three strands, then so must the assessment. It will no longer be possible to meet a standard solely by recall of factual knowledge.” (Cooper, 2013).
Every few years there seems to be some type of new technique that is developed that has hope and promise as an educational innovation. Currently, "flipping" the classroom has been getting much attention. Surely, the research will come concerning this technique. What you are going to read here is the brief story of an attempt by one teacher to "flip" things. You will get the good, the bad and the ugly.
Teaching is so collaborative! That's why periodically I will interview a fellow instructor and post the questions and answers here. It benefits all of us when we discuss what works, what doesn't, and how we can improve. This month's feature is Sharon Geyer from Pomfret School in Connecticut.
I need to thank a lady from Texas. We had just finished the classification of matter and I have always wanted to follow up with a distillation. I have talked about it and once I even got some extremely expensive glassware that I carefully set up, managed to break by third bell and really ticked off the AP teacher. At Chem Ed 2015, a teacher from Texas showed me this quick and dirty way to do a distillation that the kids can do. First, let me say that this is not my idea. I forgot her name. "Lady from Texas", let me just say "thank you". If you are reading this, please shoot me an email and I will be more than happy to give you credit. It worked really well.
Most chemical educators will agree that exciting demonstrations are excellent motivators to create interest in science. They are also a way to create interest in the community, motivate the student-demonstrators, and perhaps to make a little money to support special activities of an ACS Chem Club. Chemical demonstration shows, organized around holidays or other special occasions have a long and honored history. Pacifica High School (Garden Grove, CA) took its inspiration from the lecture-demonstrations of Michael Faraday, given during the Christmas holidays of 1860-61. (The Chemical History of A Candle).
Have you ever worked with someone on a project and you couldn’t get a hold of them? Or you realized, a bit too late, that they need extra reminders to get stuff done? Oh, and by the way, how did that guy get to be in charge? As adults, we can probably remember more than one situation where this has happened. Maybe it was in school, maybe it’s in your job.