Lauren Stewart's blog

Get a PLC ASAP

I spent the week learning about the field of chemistry education, being in awe of Notre Dame’s campus and most importantly, geeking out with some of the most amazing chemistry teachers you will ever meet.

Where did all the desks go?

When the idea of going deskless popped into my head last spring, it was in response to classroom management and safety issues that had been arising with increased class sizes, the addition of inclusion physical science 9 to my schedule and the adoption of a 1:1 Chromebook program.

Confessions of a Fixed Mindset

Once you get into your teaching routine, there is not a lot of struggle. There are changes and challenges, but rarely do you encounter a situation that completely breaks your confidence or forces you entirely out of your comfort zone. I don’t think I fully appreciated the frustration, pain and inadequacy my students sometimes feel until today.

Electronic Portfolios and Final Exams

In the past five years I have wrestled with the questions, “what is the purpose of a final exam” and “how do I incorporate a final exam into my grading system.” At this point, I have found peace in answers to both of these questions and part of that relies on my students completing an electronic portfolio.

Some Like it Hot

In my class, I use the illustration of a mountain to help students push through the challenges of chemistry. Stoichiometry is the top of chemistry mountain. As we progress through the year, I say things like “the mountain is getting steep here!” or “there is not a lot of oxygen up here!” or “I will carry you up chemistry mountain if I have to!” to keep students motivated. When students finally get to the top of chemistry mountain (mid quarter 3), the air is thin, they are tired and they are ready to base jump off the mountain (see illustration from a former student below).

What do you know about your students?

As teachers, we all know that our job extends far beyond the content we are required to deliver. We are educators, mentors, coaches, parents and more. It is important for us to find ways to wear all of these hats without burning out. I have learned many great strategies that certainly helped re-energize me as a teacher but there was one strategy in particular that I could not get out of my head.

Reflections from a Paperless Classroom

Like many schools, this year my school went 1:1. Each of our students was issued an 11 inch Chromebook with a webcam. Our upperclassmen have the the older Samsung models with a front-facing webcam and our underclassmen have the new Lenovo N22/23 models with a flippable webcam. I am a “jump in head first” type of person so I decided to go completely paperless this year. Now that I am halfway through the year (and still paperless!), I wanted to share what has been working well for me and where the snags have been.