I always find this time of year quite harrowing. I am right in the middle of academic competition season with Olympiads in physics, chemistry, biology, and math. I have science bowl and ocean bowl along with bridge building all on the same day. Why do we do this to ourselves?
Michael Morgan's blog
I am sitting in Greeley Colorado. It is the first day of the 2016 BCCE. Time to get my learn on! I have spent the last week pouring over the schedule and deciding what I want to attend and a huge problem has developed. I am double booked almost every day!
I published an article about an independent study unit I use with my AP Chemistry class two years ago, A guided group inquiry lesson on coordination compounds and complex ions. In the time since it was published, I have expanded the unit quite a bit and written some new assignments to go along with it. I use this unit every year as a post AP activity and am very fond of it. I thought some of my readers might enjoy seeing how it has changed and get access to the new assignments I have developed for it.
In one of my last blog posts I wrote of how I sometimes enjoy ending a unit with a series of demonstrations and using them to elicit a dialog between the students and myself to check for understanding. It is always a fascinating experience to hear the misconceptions that many students have the day before the test.
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.
Technology is a word that can generate a great deal of debate in a chemistry classroom. I got into an interesting conversation with a teacher who is new to my school this year as she was moving into her classroom next to mine.
This year my students experienced something a little new to them on the Chemistry Olympiad. It was a question about the crystal structure of a mineral. I have not been teaching the “unit cell” concept in great detail and started to reevaluate my unit on liquids and solids. This question has been appearing on the semifinal exam of the Chemistry Olympiad for a few years but not the local exam until this year. I actually like it when something like this happens. It allows me to reevaluate what I am teaching in class, provides me an opportunity to learn new things, and brings new material into my curriculum.