Just as our lives and various circumstances have a story, so do our laboratory experiences. Often the labs we do lack context but we expect students to buy in to the experiment without knowing the what, where, or why of the story. What makes this lab worth doing? What question(s) are we trying to answer? Why was someone exploring this in the first place?
In this blog post will describe a process I now use for providing specific lab report feedback using an online Comment Bank.
From the looks of things, we are all in the same boat. Spring fever. I had two groups of students. Both are ending 3rd quarter, looking out a window at the first nice weather we have had in weeks. Most are already planning their spring break vacation and some have left early. Notice, not much talk about chemistry. The curriculum said it was time for stoichiometry for one group and specific heat for another. Just what the kids wanted to do (read with sarcasm).
How can I engage my students (and myself) for the last half of the semester? I read recently that the human attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds(link is external), which is down from 2000’s 12-second span. Currently, we are just beneath goldfish, who can attend to one thought for 9 seconds. I’m not sure of the methods of the research study, and I maintain a level of healthy skepticism. However, I admit my thoughts often spring from topic to topic like a bubble gum machine bouncy ball.
Many of you familiar with me will know I have a great affinity for academic competition and was more than a little bit upset when the International Chemistry Olympiad was scheduled for Karachi Pakistan in 2016.
One of my favorite things to talk about with my colleagues is the use of lecture demonstrations in teaching. There seems to be a push in my district to stop using chemicals whenever possible and get to computer simulations and video in place of wet chemistry. I don’t think they are thrilled with me since I can’t envision ever taking the chemistry out of chemistry.
There have been a TON of great ideas for guided inquiry (modeling instruction(link is external), POGIL(link is external), Target Inquiry(link is external), etc.). I do a ton of guided inquiry in my classroom. I have engaged in professional development on facilitating group work (through POGIL) and read what I hear is THE book on group work (which really is quite good- “Designing Groupwork(link is external)”).
A perfect storm starts to form. We are on the concept of moles and I have some students who are struggling mathematically. It is a rough time of year to get kids excited. Many students are struggling with ACT and SAT prep and as a teacher, I am tired of test...test...test. Also, I had about two dozen 2 liter bottle "pre forms" that I needed to find something to do with.
What motivates our students to excel in understanding chemistry? For some students, they would like to pursue a career in a science related field while others are extrinsically motivated for a particular grade or graduation credit.