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Because my teaching philosophy assumes that both quality and quantity of learning increases with interest in subject matter, I have spent years exploring ways to engage my students in chemistry (of course fire, explosions, and color changing reactions are certainly helpful). I have recently begun using an approach that I have found to be quite fruitful, albeit counterintuitive: I don’t try to get my students interested in chemistry. You read that right. I don’t try to interest my students in chemistry. Rather, I get to know the hobbies and interests of my students. Then I work to demonstrate how chemistry relates to those activities.
This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.
My first experiment involves measuring the density of water. Each group of two kids is assigned a specific volume of water from 10 to 100 mLs on the tens. They simply measure the mass of an empty graduated cylinder and then add the water and find the mass again. Once they have their data they go around the room and find another group that has one of the volumes that they need and get the data from them and record their names. Once complete they generate a graph of the data and answer a few simple questions. The whole procedure can be completed in about 20 minutes.
When you incorporate non-traditional pedagogies and grading systems into your classroom like Modeling Instruction and standards-based grading, you need to be concerned about buy-in from students and parents. Implementation without buy-in leads to frustrated students, parents and most of all teachers. I have saved myself from this frustration by establishing a growth-mindset classroom culture from day one. Here are my tips for building a classroom where students feel comfortable to fail.
Editors Note: This post was submitted for the 2017 ChemEd X Call for Contributions: Creating a Classroom Culture.
Erica Jacobsen shares highlights from the August 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education that are of special interest to high school chemistry teachers.
Though we may recognize its presence, teachers, scientists, and policymakers still disagree on the most practical and effective methods for developing scientific literacy in our students. Herein lies our challenge as science educators—what can we do in the classroom to create experiences for our students that involve the understanding and appreciation of the most valuable traits associated with being scientifically literate? This article includes resources and a sample assignment that will hopefully get all of us off on a good start.
The August 2017 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. Topics featured in this issue include: visualizing the chemistry of climate change; environmental chemistry; chemistry education for medical preprofessionals; tools for learning and student engagement; training laboratory teaching assistants; biochemistry; forensic chemistry; nanoparticle experiments; materials science; resources for teaching; from the archives: climate change.
Items that have been submitted to the Book and Media Review associate editor are listed here so that reviewers can know what is available to review
As we all know, research and general educational practice clearly indicates that students learn science best by doing it – not just reading about it. Hands-on, process and inquiry based science is the key to understanding science. Unfortunately, this is a double edged sword for science teachers in that doing science has its potential hazards and resulting risks. Science laboratories, classrooms and field work sites can be unsafe places to teach and learn. If a student gets hurt while doing an activity in the lab, in the field or even at home if it was a teacher’s assignment, there is potential shared liability for both the teacher and the school.
A classroom activity to demonstrate the principles of chemical kinetics and equilibria and the utility of the mole concept is described here. The activity involved no hazardous materials or complex equipment and can be enjoyed and appreciated by general studies students as well as chemistry majors.
Students can build their own Hoffman apparatus. An animation of the electrolysis on a particulate level is available to show students before, during or after students perform the electrolysis.