Allison Tarvin's blog

What are they thinking? Where did they get that idea?

Making Thinking Visible

Have you read “Making Thinking Visible”?  You should. It focuses on making student thinking visible to the teacher. While still learning to use the visible thinking routines, I really feel more conscious of students’ understandings than ever.  

Here is a sample activity that I adapted to fit my honor chemistry students’ needs:

The Chemistry of a Family-Style Dinner – Ideas Invited!

periodic dinner

Science is creative; it requires new ideas, new patterns, and new solutions to old problems. A deep understanding of the periodic table is the most critical knowledge in chemistry. I want my students to experience the table and conceptualize its trends in a deeper way. Combining creative ideas from an AP Lit project with my honors chemistry content, I am brainstorming about a more engaging, more challenging summative assessment on periodic table families. I would love to hear your ideas and collaborate to build an exciting assessment.


I used to feel guilty about lecturing

Atomic Radius ppt

In this age of scientific inquiry, molecular modeling, digital classrooms, and differentiation, I felt downright guilty about any teacher-centered time. My classroom is flipped after all. I’m not supposed to be lecturing, right?

A Post-Inquiry Activity: A Tiered Significant Figures Lesson

sig figs

Historically, my students report significant figures as one of the most confusing concepts in honors chemistry. My recent blog post described the process of transforming my introduction into an inquiry activity. I’ve also re-worked my practice activities to be more directed to specific student needs, more focused on spending time with small groups, and more dedicated to active learning. This four step tiered plan works for me.

A “Buzzing” Introduction to Significant Figures


Education “buzz words” can be meaningless jargon, or they can challenge us to consider new approaches to teaching and learning. Don’t let the jargon be a buzz kill!

“Significant figures are so confusing,” says my former student, who is currently taking AP Chemistry. My PowerPoint lecture with lab to follow didn’t work. Convicted, I wrestled with transforming my tired lesson. I embraced the buzz words. Let’s look at a significant figures lesson that changed my compliant, quiet learners to ENGAGED COLLABORATORS.