The World's Biggest Flame Test....


Most chemistry teachers I know do flame tests with their students. It ties in well with many topics, is colorful and the kids enjoy seeing the colors and burning stuff. There are many applications. For years I always mentioned that astronomers use the idea of the flame test. They simply look at stars and examine the spectra from the light of these stars. They then match the spectra with the elements and then they can see and infer what elements are millions of light years away. I always mentioned this but never was able to demonstrate it. 

Standards and Mastery Connect

Mastery Connect website

There has been considerable discussion lately of standard based teaching. Essentially, a teacher has a set of standards and they teach to these standards. The idea is that instead of saying "Hey, you got a C on this test, time to move on..." a teacher would say "This is the standard...you can exceed it, meet it or you can approach it...the goal is to meet or exceed the standard and if you do not, keep trying." Here is an example...we were covering gas laws in my class. I asked seven questions about conceptual ideas concerning gas laws.

Popular SBG Gradebook, ActiveGrade, Now Freely Available.

Haiku Learning

ActiveGrade has been a favorite among practitioners of Standards-Based Assessment.  It's intuitive interface and elegant data displays helped teachers, students, and parents have meaningful conversations about student progress and assessment. For as little as $60.00 a year, teachers could tap into this powerful intructional tool.

MolView: An App to View Structural Formulas and Models


What is the best way for students to visualize compounds? From the traditional physical ball and stick models to the various online simulations the objective for all of these tools is to provide one with a visual for the different structures and patterns. This summer while facilitating a workshop, the participants and I discussed this question and while reviewing various representations we came across MolView.

Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie

John Hattie is a guy who spent twenty five years doing over 50000 meta analysis studies on about 80 million students and wrote a book called “Visible Learning”. He has also done a number of TED talks. Essentially, he asks the question, “What affects students learning?” and clearly as well as simply defines what an “effect” is. He told the story of a researcher who spent years recording classroom interactions from the perspective of the student and the teacher. The researcher was surprised to learn that about seventy percent of learning was not visible to the teacher. So..even the best teachers with the best data only get about thirty percent of the picture. Next came the book, Visible Learning for Teachers and the website “Visible Learning Plus”.

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe


How did someone figure that out? Can you explain to me why this happens? No matter the topic, individuals are always seeking information as they look to explain complex objects and theories. “Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words” by Randall Munroe uses only one thousand of the most common words to explain various inventions and phenomena in the field of physical science.

Argument-Driven Inquiry in Chemistry: Lab Investigations for Grades 9 - 12

argument driven inquiry

I have been on a mission lately to make scientists out of my students. I am long past my fears that they are not capable of discovering the world for themselves or that they won’t learn the content if we spend too much time on science practices. What I have to work on now is orchestrating the experience. The pedagogy underlying Modeling Instruction has become the backbone for much of my instruction lately. This method of instruction not only gives my students an engaging, authentic scientific experience but has resulted in deeper content knowledge.