ACS publishes Guidelines for Secondary School Laboratory Safety

The ACS Committee on Chemical Safety has published new Guidelines for Chemical Laboratory Safety in Secondary Schools. This document is organized with the R.A.M.P. concept – Recognize the hazard, Assess the risk of the hazard, Minimize the risk of the hazard, and Prepare for emergencies. The online document includes two pages for each letter that could be printed and posted in the classroom to reinforce these principles of safety. The documents are provided to strengthen the safety practices of teachers and help them to promote a culture of safety that their students will take with them throughout their academic and professional careers.

Gizmos: An Online Simulation Tool

This week I had the opportunity to attend part 2 of a 3 day PD for Gizmos, courtesy of a district grant working with ExploreLearning. In a room full of middle school science colleagues (half of whom I knew), I was able to glean a ton of great information.

Introducing Superheavy Elements to Students

            In July of 2016 we learned the names of the four new elements that were confirmed in January; Nihonium (Nh), moscovium (Mc), tennessine (Ts) and oganesson (Og). Although the newest superheavy elements complete the seventh period of the Periodic Table, curiosity has been reignited in our classrooms as students ask, what’s next?

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

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.

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”.