Curriculum, Pedagogy & Grading Resources

Incorporating Authentic Assessments in Chemistry

Recently, my district made a commitment to helping its teachers reflect and rethink their grading and assessment practices. One of the phrases I kept hearing throughout our staff professional development sessions was authentic assessment. I understood (and agreed with) the basic premise—create more opportunities for students to perform tasks that demonstrate meaningful application of essential knowledge and skills. Doing so involves going beyond, or even potentially replacing, traditional summative assessments at the end of each unit.

POGIL in the High School Chemistry Class: Objectives, Practices, and Outcomes

All too often teachers use POGIL activities as worksheets when the teacher is absent, busy work to review a topic, or handouts for homework. However, using the POGIL activities in this manner does not allow the students to reap all the benefits of the activity. This article is designed to give you a glimpse into what the POGIL process can do for you.

Toward an Accessible Set of Chemistry Core Ideas to Help Students Make Sense of Phenomena

NGSS crosscutting concepts and core ideas are intended to be used as evidence to support explanations and arguments. I have found several lists of Chemistry core ideas online, but I don’t think I would give the ones I have seen to my students because they are either too long or written with language that I don’t think is suitable for novice learners of Chemistry. I have compiled a list of the crosscutting concepts and 12 core ideas for high school Chemistry that my students could use to support the explanations and arguments I will be asking them to write. 

What is Reasoning?

I attended a professional development session on the NGSS earlier this week by Brett Moulding and Nicole Paulson based on the book they wrote with Rodger Bybee, A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning. The authors propose the “gathering-reasoning-communicating” (GRC) structure as a simplified way of thinking about the Science and Engineering Practices. Reasoning is the keystone of the GRC structure and the primary thing we want science students to be doing. “Gathering” provides the raw materials for reasoning and “communicating” helps us know that reasoning has taken place.

Some Like it Hot

In my class, I use the illustration of a mountain to help students push through the challenges of chemistry. Stoichiometry is the top of chemistry mountain. As we progress through the year, I say things like “the mountain is getting steep here!” or “there is not a lot of oxygen up here!” or “I will carry you up chemistry mountain if I have to!” to keep students motivated. When students finally get to the top of chemistry mountain (mid quarter 3), the air is thin, they are tired and they are ready to base jump off the mountain (see illustration from a former student below).

Pick - Adapting Assessment Tasks To Support Three-Dimensional Learning

Adapting Assessment Tasks to Support Three-Dimensional Learning is an open-access Editors' Choice article published in the February 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education. The authors outline steps to help teachers modify their old assessment questions that require students to use core ideas, scientific practices and crosscutting concepts to provide evidence they have learned the required content.

Argument Driven Inquiry

I first learned about argument driven inquiry through a post written by Ben Meacham. I was interested in both the stoichiometry  lab and the way that it was presented to the students through Argument Driven Inquiry. This lead me to the Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI) website. The website provided many resources.