Quite some time since last post

Lot’s have happened.  still use BCA Tables and love them.  Upgraded Physics to AP Physics 1 with some challenges, but I think its been a good 2 years with this change.  Chemistry is slowly evolving to a more hands-on class.

I read that it’s harder to introduce new teaching styles into the classroom because we don’t have a memory of it as students. I agree.

currently, I’m battling a large dose of frustration.  we hear “I tried it and it won’t work.” by the same people who say “students today are nothing like they used to be.”

(bringing up biology – just be patient).  Evolution is where a species changes slowly over a long period of time, or so I’ve been told.  However, it isn’t an “instantaneous” species-broad change.  A few change here and then a few more there, and so on.  It takes a long period of time for the majority to have evolved into a new something.

Maybe that’s what’s going on with student learning.  The new idea came from a teacher with a few new “species”.  When we try it somewhere else, it doesn’t work because the majority of our students consist of old “species”.

I guess the point I’m getting at is that we need to try idea that might not have worked before, but might work now.  The only way something that didn’t work before won’t work now is if (1) the students are the same as they have always been, and (this is the important one) (2) the teacher is the same as she/he used to be.

I certainly hope that the second one is not the case.  We as teachers  need to change and grow.  If the teacher is standing still  while education moves forward, she/he isn’t keeping up, they are falling behind.


New Things happening in Chemistry this Week – BCA, Baby

In my ever maddening quest to make chemistry less like a math class and more like “science” I’m going to try something new, again.

Last summer at the BCCE, I saw a great presentation about a new way to do stoichiometry problems called BCA.  It’s patterned after the ICE method of determining equilibrium constants developed (as far as I can tell) by Larry Dukerick at Arizona State as part of their Chemistry Modeling Program (link to slideshare presentation).

I, of course, am one to jump into the deep end of the pool without checking on the temperature of the water am going to give it a try with just a little planning

OK, maybe a lot of planning.  I have been modifying most of my class discussion to focus on the particle view.  Always relating back to the mole and how the mole and particle relate.  Labs are becoming more inquiry based.

I’m also trying another new idea.  I’m making students guess if they don’t know an answer.  This way, I can determine just how much they don’t know, and also it has lowered their inhibition about contributing to the classroom discussion.  A few socratic questions asked by me has been overall successful in leading the students to develop their own understanding of the many concepts while allowing them to be more involved in the discussion.

Right now, I’ve got my collegue going over the plan of attack for this thing.  If it passes muster, it’s 100 percent go for this year.

Biggest fear is do I abandon traditional stoichiometry or not?

Kahn Academy?

Interesting video about “watching” lectures.  http://fnoschese.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/khan-academy-and-the-effectiveness-of-science-videos/

Are students really learning or only hearing what they want to hear to justify what they already “know”.  I have the same problem with gravity that the video used as an example.

It is important that teachers in lower grade levels get the concepts right.  Students are much more receptive at the younger ages.  So, when we get them in high school, once they hear a topic they already know, they had better know it correctly, or they will more than likely not be corrected.

I like that the term “confused” was used as a sign of corrected misconceptions.

Inquiry and NGSS

Looking over the new science standards, I’ve come to the realization that the Engineering strand of the standards is all about Inquiry:

– Next Generation Science Standards; Appendix F states that the eight practices of science and engineering, the Framework identifies as essential for all students to learn, and describes in detail, are listed below:

    • 1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
    • 2. Developing and using models
    • 3. Planning and carrying out investigations
    • 4. Analyzing and interpreting data
    • 5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
    • 6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
    • 7. Engaging in argument from evidence
    • 8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information:

While the  NSTA Official Position (Oct 2004) has this to say about Scientific Inquiry:  Regarding students’ abilities to do scientific inquiry, NSTA recommends that teachers help students:

      • Learn how to identify and ask appropriate questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.
      • Design and conduct investigations to collect the evidence needed to answer a variety of questions.
      • Use appropriate equipment and tools to interpret and analyze data.
      • Learn how to draw conclusions and think critically and logically to create explanations based on their evidence.
      • Communicate and defend their results to their peers and others.

Regarding students’ understanding about scientific inquiry, NSTA recommends that teachers help students understand:

      • That science involves asking questions about the world and then developing scientific investigations to answer their questions.
      • That there is no fixed sequence of steps that all scientific investigations follow. Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations.
      • That scientific inquiry is central to the learning of science and reflects how science is done.
      • The importance of gathering empirical data using appropriate tools and instruments.
      • That the evidence they collect can change their perceptions about the world and increase their scientific knowledge.
      • The importance of being skeptical when they assess their own work and the work of others.
      • That the scientific community, in the end, seeks explanations that are empirically based and logically consistent.