In 2006, The Division of Chemical Education endowed an award program, the Regional Award for Excellence in High School Teaching, to recognize and inspire outstanding high school chemistry teachers. Each of the ten Regions of the American Chemical Society solicits nominations for this award. The winners receive $1000, an engraved plaque and travel expenses to the meeting where they are honored.
Throw the phrase “chemistry class” at someone to get their reaction. What do you predict it would be? A chalkboard full of stoichiometry problems? Wading through the atomic masses on the periodic table? Bubbling beakers? Something else? In any case, I’m guessing his or her first answer would not be, “Creative writing.”
Promoting Problem-Solving and Discovery Learning
The March 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: protein chemistry; making connections in in chemical education research; chemical bonding; importance of non-technical skills; courses built on reactivity; periodic table; heterocyclic compounds; teaching resources; from the archives: Using Wikipedia and Wikis to teach.
Food chemistry is an interesting and fun class for students. Read the article for some suggestions about resources along with an outline of a unit developed around water in cooking.
Julia Winter is the 2016 Conant Award winner. She is a veteran chemistry teacher from Michigan. You can watch a video interview recorded March 2016.
Fostering Creativity in Chemistry
The February 2017 online issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available to subscribers. Topics featured include: surface chemistry; chemical identity thinking; conceptual understanding; communicating science to the general public; activities and labs linking chemistry and art; history and chemistry; early access to research; technology as instructional support; synthesis laboratories; from the archives: bottle chemistry.
For me, the first step toward teaching my students how to critically think about how they structured an argument or explanation was to implement the Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) framework. While the premise behind CER isn’t anything new to the way science teachers already think, it provides an entirely different approach toward how students connect their experiences and previously learned content into something that is much more reflective of being scientifically literate.
For a recent unit on organic chemistry for my IB students, I tried something new. I gave them a handout with a list of organic compounds (by class/functional group) and a list of mechanisms and reaction types. Their task (in small groups), using either butcher paper or a large whiteboard, was to create a flow chart of reaction pathways.
It’s the end of one semester and the beginning of another. Final exam week. For the first time in my teaching career, I had my grades caught up and posted prior to the beginning of final exams. This gave me time to reflect and plan ahead.