Are students reflecting on what their calculated values indicate? This question constantly runs through the minds of chemistry teachers across the country. Recently educators have seen shifts in instruction that promote connections to real-world phenomena using conceptual depth in understanding.
We, as teachers, can see that life is sometimes like this and we care enough about our students that we want to try to prepare them for careers and problems that we can’t even imagine….because we believe that good education can empower people to go further and reach higher than they could ever dream….and maybe the journey we will start together begins with a simple question in which the answer may not seem immediately obvious...and that is O.K….
We all have plans. As teachers we plan every week and worry about time, depth, amount, types of assessment and state mandates. Most importantly, are the kids learning? We give it our best shot. Sometimes, we have to go to plan B.
Recently, I saw this really funny meme on facebook about the creative process. I think it also sums up designing and sustaining students in long term inquiry:
Check out this overview of what a PBL unit has looked like in my classroom. I provide concrete examples and an outline of how I plan a project.
These tenets set PBL (the big once-per-semester projects) apart from day to day activities and inquiry:
PBL poses an authentic problem with multiple solutions.
PBL requires core subject knowledge to propose solutions to a problem to an authentic audience.
Have you read “Making Thinking Visible”? You should. It focuses on making student thinking visible to the teacher. While still learning to use the visible thinking routines, I really feel more conscious of students’ understandings than ever.
Here is a sample activity that I adapted to fit my honor chemistry students’ needs:
In a recent contribution to ChemEd X "Stoichiometry is Easy", the author states that he has "vacillated over the years between using an algorithmic method, and an inquiry-based approach to teaching stoichiometry. " I would like to suggest that there is another approach to mastering stoichiometry and that it should precede the algorithmic one: it is the conceptual approach based on a particle model to represent the species involved in chemical reactions.
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.
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.