PBS has a wonderful new mini-series titled, "The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements". At the time of this post, the series is freely available to stream through your local PBS station. (The series is also available for purchase.) The series is broken into three episodes which track the evolution of Chemistry in different time periods through the eyes of seven scientists.
Throughout my 21 previous years as a teacher, I have really struggled to provide meaningful (and timely!) feedback to my students on their lab reports. Teaching IB Chemistry has really forced me to get better - and I have. Yet I still feel like this is an area for more improvement.I've got a series of blog posts planned to share some ideas with you - and hopefully garner some discussion that will be helpful for me also! First I'd like to share the mechanics of how I provide feedback.
What is your definition of the term “mole” in chemistry? Many articles have been written about the term and the confusion surrounding it. It was not considered an SI unit (with an IUPAC definition) until 1971. IUPAC is considering a change to the 1971 definition. There has been discussion about whether the SI definition of the mole as determined by IUPAC necessarily needs to be identical to the definition used by chemists and teachers. This article provides a short list of some recent JCE articles discussing the change and what it might mean for teachers while also considering some misconceptions related to the mole in chemistry class.
Using Models and Modeling To Teach
The August 2015 issue of the Journal of Chemical Education is now available online to subscribers. This issue includes articles on modeling instruction; Lewis dot structure model; molecular models; using models to teach crystal symmetry; introductory activities and labs; organic chemistry investigations and tools for engagement; enabling chemistry training for low vision or blind students; chemical education research in the literature; celebrating the work of Melanie Cooper; forensic chemistry articles from past issues.
There have been numerous educational initiatives that have driven the push for helping students develop deep conceptual understanding. One of the difficulties for educators is assessing whether students have actually made gains in understanding. Ask any teacher to define “conceptual understanding” and their definition may be very different from the next teacher’s definition. The authors of this timely article have taken the definitions of well over a thousand instructors and identified a consensus articulation of what conceptual understanding is. This article will be of interest to any teacher struggling to assess their student’s conceptual understanding of content.
Earlier in the summer, I was shopping around for a standards-based gradebook. As the lone teacher at my school venturing into this unchartered territory, I did what any responsible techie teacher would do. I turned to the twitterverse for suggestions. I quickly identified the two most recommended platforms.
Check out this overview of what a PBL unit has looked like in my classroom. I provide concrete examples and an outline of how I plan a project.