May 2016 ChemEd X Newsletter

Chemical Education Xchange

Dear Readers,

I am finishing up my second year using Modeling Instruction with my general chemistry course. I appreciate the genuine order of topics because this provides a main theme or "big idea" that I can follow with my students all year. We explore phenomenon and create a model that explains the evidence that we collect. As we collect more data, the model fails. So, we have to make an adjustment to the model to make sense of this new evidence. We are continually brought back to previous ideas and old evidence so that we are perpetually reviewing and making connections. I am enjoying seeing my students begin to make connections without as much coaching as we near the end of the course.

This idea of an overarching theme or "big idea" for a course or a unit is not unique. We see it in the AP curriculum and within the Next Generation Science Standards. Many of us are redesigning our curriculums and rearranging content to fit these thematic ideas. I appreciate some of the recent posts contributed to ChemEd X for helping me as I work through this process with my science department. I hope that you are benefitting as well. If you have recommendations for resources or insight of your own on this topic, we are anxious to review new submissions on the topic.  


Deanna Cullen


Erica Jacobsen shares highlights ;from the May 2016 issue of JCE that are of special interest to high school teachers. She encourages teachers to challenge themselves by writing and submitting an article to JCE and she also summarizes an article about a chemistry game. If you would like to explore the whole issue in more depth, check out Mary Saecker's .


Tom Kuntzleman and David Doherty had a conversation about electron configurations on Twitter. This conversation led to a collaboration with a goal of clarifying the topic for all of us and providing the tools we need to share this with our students. Tom introduces the collaboration and provides some background information in this blog post. David authored an article, , explaining how we can make sense of it all.


Michael Morgan shares a series of demonstrations that he uses to promote discussion about kinetics in order to identify misconceptions held by students.


In the lab, students are given a 1.5 gram samples of copper. The copper is taken through a series of five chemical reactions ending with the precipitation of solid copper. After the five reactions, students are asked to return their 1.5 gram samples of copper to the teacher. This series of activities is an excellent way to begin AP Chemistry. It is an opportunity to set a tone for good lab practice and also review content from the first year high school chemistry course.


Many teachers are being asked to incorporate more technology into their classrooms. Dan Meyers has a new set of chromebooks to use and he shares a blended unit on periodicity that he just tried for the first time.


Recent Picks and Reviews

is a formative assessment tool that can be used in any subject area. Doug Ragan explains how he uses it in his chemistry classroom.

tells the story of ionic and covalent bonds and the attractions/repulsions involved.

is reviewed by Michelle Okroy.

will help you incorporate argument-driven inquiry activities into your curriculum.


Chemistry teachers are make connections between the particle and macroscopic levels when teaching chemical reactions. What makes this unit unique is the addition of an animation project. Students use technology to develop an animation showing the movement of particles during the reaction.


Early Registration for BCCE ends on June 1st! BCCE 2016 will be held at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, CO. The conference will take place July 31through August 4, 2016. High school teachers can register at a discounted rate of $186 if you meet the early registration deadline.


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