First Day of Chemistry: The Banning of Caffeine and Gummy Worms

The first day of school for me has always been daunting for my new students (in AP chemistry, where I know the kids, it’s so much easier). I want my students to know the following: -Who is this tiny person who looks like a teenager (that’d be ME, folks)? Where did she come from and why is she teaching us? -What does chemistry look like?

JCE 93.08 August 2016 Issue Highlights

Journal of Chemical Education August 2016

Endowing Inspiration

The August 2016 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: blue bottle reaction revisited; precollege professional development; chemical education research on intermolecular interactions and bonding; integrated courses; activities involving kinetics, enzymes, and gases; nanomaterial & polymer laboratories; organic synthesis; NMR teaching resources; book recommendations for summer reading.

The Big Picture - My AP Chemistry Scope and Sequence


In my last post, I discussed my first year chemistry scope and sequence. Here, I continue with AP chemistry scope and sequence, and a little bit with how I developed it the year before, the summer before, and during the year. Keep in mind, I consider the work I do with students to always be a project in progress. I learn so much from working with them as they engage with the content through a different perspective than I have.

How do you Incorporate Equilibrium Into Your Curriculum?

Equilibrium Analogy- from the textbook Chemistry: Matter and Change

Throughout the last ten years teaching both chemistry and Advanced Placement Chemistry I have realized that the concept of equilibrium does not receive enough attention in my first-year chemistry course. Sure, the concept of equilibrium is a topic mentioned and identified throughout the course however the dialogue in regards to conditions that would shift the chemical system is minimal at best.

Concept Mapping in Chemistry

It's been a few days since my summer break began. I have had a few days to decompress, relax, and think about my next post. I have been planning to write about concept mapping since the end of our first semester. I first recognized the effects of concept mapping in the classroom when I read Shannon Bowen's blog post last December.

Doc Saves Everyone – Applying BCA Tables to Titration Calculations

doc saves everyone

I recently stumbled across a blog about the use of BCA (Before Change After) tables for stoichiometry written by Lowell Thomson.  I was thrilled to discover ChemEd Xchange!  I wanted to share my journey, spurred on by my students, into the extensive use of the BCA approach in AP and IB chemistry.  I hav

Building Summer Assignments for Next Year’s First-Year Chemistry Students

summer assignments

Our new administrative team now strongly encourages all core content teachers to provide a summer assignment to prepare students for the first day of school. Outside of the summer reading for literature classes, we’ve never done this. I see the potential for class time-savings and improvement of student understanding. Will the students see the possibilities? What should I assign? Is it realistic to expect next year to begin differently?

Writing Conversion Factors

Writing Conversion Factors Preview

This worksheet is intended to be used as a "Guided Instructional Activity" (GIA). Students read a statement that gives a either a conversion factor or a pair of related measures and then write the information as two equivalent fractions ("conversion factors") and as an equality. In each representation, students are directed to give the numeral of the measure, unit, and identity of the chemical.

Time required: 

35 to 45 minutes.

Stoichiometry Guided Instructional Activities with Guide Framework

Initial framework for use with stoichiometry GIAs

This set of three worksheets are intended to be used as collaborative "Guided Instructional Activities" (GIAs). Two students cooperate to complete the steps of a stoichiometry problem, alternately doing parts of the process as they explain what they are doing and evaluate their partner's work. These worksheets emphasize an algorothmic approach that helps students learn to think aobut the purpose of a question, organize their work, set it up so that it is easily readable and can be followed by others, and make good use of "unit analysis" (dimensional analysis).

Time required: 

Each of the activity worksheets requires 40 to 55 minutes.

Mole Conversion Guided Instructional Activities

Mole Conversion Guided Instructional Activity Preview

The three "Guided Instructional Activities" in this activity are three cooperative learning pieces in which students are guided through the process of converting from one unit to moles (or moles to a unit) by the method of "unit analysis" (dimensional analysis). Students alternate steps in the process and evaluate the success of each step. They must do things such as writing the given information correctly, finding the correct molar mass, setting up the mathematics correctly, and determining the answer to a required number of significant figures.

Time required: 

Each of the activities requires about 40 to 55 minutes. The first one used usually takes longer, the last goes quicker.