Classroom Culture

Building Buy-In Through a Growth Mindset Classroom Culture

When you incorporate non-traditional pedagogies and grading systems into your classroom like Modeling Instruction and standards-based grading, you need to be concerned about buy-in from students and parents. Implementation without buy-in leads to frustrated students, parents and most of all teachers. I have saved myself from this frustration by establishing a growth-mindset classroom culture from day one. Here are my tips for building a classroom where students feel comfortable to fail.

Editors Note: This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

Classroom Culture - Phoning Home...before there is a problem...

A couple of years ago I was asked to be a mentor teacher to a new teacher. We sat in on what seemed endless meetings for first year teachers.  told a story about his young daughter. His daughter's teacher called home to talk to her...before the first day of school. He mentioned the positive impact it had on both him and his daughter. A light turned on. What would happen if I called home to everyone of my students BEFORE the first day of school?

Nerdy Science Shirt Friday

Over the past 30 years, numerous articles have been written about the importance of student teacher relationships. The National Education Association, NEA, offers advice for beginning teachers that includes establishing the classroom climate, conducting class efficiently, and reaching all students. When teachers effectively connect to their students, discipline problems decrease and student engagement increases.

This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.

“The Candle Experiment” – an Opening Exercise for General (or introductory) chemistry

This exercise is intended as an ice-breaker for a first or second class meeting. It also serves as an introduction to physical & chemical properties and application of the macro/micro/symbolic representations of chemical phenomena. Finally, it also provides a framework to mention many of the topics to be covered in a general chem first semester course.

First Day of Chemistry: The Banning of Caffeine and Making 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?

Establishing a Class Motto

I display and live a class motto in order to give a framework to the scientific intent of my community of learners. My particular motto is a quote from Freeman Dyson: "Science is an objective struggle between the precision of tools and the ambiguities of nature." 

Using Chemical Mysteries (in the IB) Chemistry Classroom

Inspired by Tom Kuntzleman*, I started using mysteries in my chemistry curriculum this past year. The first mystery I shared with my students was burning water. While my magician skills aren't perfect, I was able to get the students asking questions and proposing hypotheses. For my IB students, it really allowed me to delve into a number of topics (e.g. combustion, intermolecular forces, polarity, density). And thus an idea was born: Using one mystery per topic. In this blog post I'll discuss my beginning effort to find or develop a mystery for each topic within the IB Chemistry curriculum.

Still I Rise: A Student Perspective

In this blog post, I’ve asked Natalie about her journey as a woman of color along the path toward a future in a STEM field. I can’t begin to understand her perspective, so I’ve asked her to lend her voice to this issue. I believe it is important that we, as educators, take some time to reflect on what she has to say. Sometimes, the things we don’t say are resonating just as loudly as the things we do.

My First Day Demonstration

I have a first day routine that I am very proud of. I have used it for 25 years and I think I finally have it down pat. I have spoken to students from 20 years ago at reunions and they tell me that they still remember the first day of chemistry so I think it is pretty good.