What are we doing to help kids achieve?
Last month, I shared about a new PD opportunity I had the privilege of participating in called Gizmos. You can read about it here. After Thanksgiving break, my Chemistry 1 and Honors Chemistry 1 classes began our Chemical Reactions unit.
Atomsmith works really well on Chromebooks and other platforms. Students can manipulate molecules, add water, do experiments, heat solutions and examine intermolecular forces all on the particulate level. Another nice feature is the "Experiment" section. There are a number of guided activities, usually never more than a page or two. I have found them to be great supplements for activities, experiments and demonstrations.
The purpose of a lab practicum is to assess a student’s understanding of the content by completing a hands-on challenge. These assessments focus more on problem-solving skills than technique.
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.
Organic chemistry was when I fell in love with chemistry. Also known as Chem 210 at the University of Michigan, it was the first time I actually started to connect what was going on at the nanoscopic level to the macroscopic world. Since then, I’ve been hooked.
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.
In my IB Chemistry class, my seniors were finishing up independent investigations for their Internal Assessment a few weeks ago when something cool happened. One of my students was using silver nitrate and potassium chromate for a titration. This is notable to the story here because the endpoint is marked by the formation of silver chromate as a precipitate, with a deep reddish color. I overhead the student showing his reaction to another student, with both of them commenting on the cool colors involved.
Last winter I watched a webinar put on by ACS and AACT called "NGSS in the Chemistry Classroom." As a result of watching that webinar, I took an activity that had NGSS Science & Engineering Practices (SEP) integrated into it and tried it out in class. In this activity, students are required to develop their own procedures and data tables.