Ben Meacham's blog

Boltzmann Bucks—Helping Students Conceptualize Entropy

If you are looking to go beyond using traditional, arguably misleading, definitions of entropy involving “disorder” and “messy bedroom” analogies, the Boltzmann Bucks game fits the bill. The game, pulled from a Journal of Chemical Education article, provides a wonderful opportunity for students to more accurately conceptualize entropy.

A Simple Tool to Help Make the Retake Process Less Chaotic

Part of placing value on the process of learning means giving students multiple opportunities to demonstrate understanding. Reassessments are an inevitable part of the process. For many teachers, this presents a logistical problem. To help streamline the entire process, I would like to share a simple strategy that anyone can replicate in a short amount of time.

Incorporating Authentic Assessments in Chemistry

Recently, my district made a commitment to helping its teachers reflect and rethink their grading and assessment practices. One of the phrases I kept hearing throughout our staff professional development sessions was authentic assessment. I understood (and agreed with) the basic premise—create more opportunities for students to perform tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Doing so involves going beyond, or even potentially replacing, traditional summative assessments at the end of each unit.

Using the ACS Exams in Your Classroom

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.