Establishing a Class Motto

class motto

In a BCCE 2016 Plenary session, I mentioned that I have, 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." 

How could you turn this into a class activity to kick off the year? Teachers should research some possible motto choices to share with the students to motivate their own search. Students could help to find their own mottos. These could be displayed in the classroom during the initial weeks of class, revisited over time, and then voted upon after some weeks of scientific work in the course. The students would then have ownership of the selected motto and the activity can help build a sense of community. Although I alone selected my classroom motto, I do continually weave it into class discussions as we struggle with data examination in search of significant patterns to reveal an important regularity that increases our understanding of the chemical world. 

Certainly this idea cannot be unique to me, but I have not actually met another teacher who lives a class motto as they lead students through a year of experiences in chemistry.

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Comments 1

Erica Posthuma's picture
Erica Posthuma | Wed, 08/17/2016 - 20:31

Hi Linda,

While not nearly as elegant as your quote, my studens occasionally stumble upon a quote they adopt for a year.  This year my Organic class quote has become, "Organic Chemistry:  It's more fun with friends!"  While it doesn't have deep philosophical or scientific meaning, I like it all the same.  Organic Chemistry IS more fun with friends.  This simple statement sums up how I want my students to approach my class.  They will need to work together, collaborate, experiment, and discuss the concepts from class in order to develop an understanding of the topics we will cover.  If I can help cultivate a classroom where we all work together toward that common goal, it will be more fun (with friends) :)