Archive for January 2009

Snow Days


A quick personal note today.  Hopefully you noticed that I haven’t added anything recently.  This is because I have had no new data to post.  The semester just finished last week.  I put out a quick survey of my students.  I found that after an introductory chemistry course, my students felt unsure about the nature of science and how chemistry relates to their lives.  They have a basic understanding of the theory of chemistry.  

The new semester started on Monday.  I began to implement my instructional strategies, but I haven’t seen my students since as we had a small snow storm.  That is 3 inches of snow followed by 2 inches of ice, then 3 inches of snow.  The temperature is low enough at night that everything refreezes.  Instead of teaching, I have been hanging out with my six month old beagle puppy.  Anyone have ideas on domesticating a wild dog?  If you know Beagles, you’ll understand what I mean.


My Beagle, PVnRT

My Beagle, PVnRT



So, hopefully, I will be able to close the week with my students.

On top of this the Ohio Department of Health will be inspecting our school in February for school safety (part of Jarod’s Law).  I will be helping the administration prepare for this.  Prepare for the first entries involving my classroom experience sometime mid next week.


Random Notes


I tried out a POGIL activity with my chemistry class today.  This class has taught using traidtional chemistry curriculum.  I am introducing hte idea of POGIL to them and will pilot a unit on acids and bases next week.  I thought I would introduce the equlibirum unit using a actvity I found from the POGIL website (see the links).  Just from the students comments and questioning, it went really well.  They enjoyed the material and learned dynamic equilibriums and Le Chatelier’s Principle.  It took almost an hour to complete.  I will give a short quiz tomorrow.  Now that I have tried it, I am more excited than I was.

I finished the course guide for next semester earlier than I had planned.  I have modified (or retyped in some cases) POGIL activities, labs, and material from other teachers.  I have given credit to the original authors at the end of each activity.  I posted it on my student website.  Find the PDF file here!  So, again, I am not claiming any of this to be original, but if you are interested in which labs I will be using, here they are.  I do plan on creating some original POGIL exercises as I get my feet wet.  I will post these as they come along.  

Finally, did you know that the ACS put together a book for applying the national standards to the chemistry classroom.  Oh, and it is FREE online!  I personally, found the chapter on the life science standards remarkable.  I don’t know how NCLB has played out in your state, but in Ohio, we have a 10th grade graduation test.  Because I teach mostly juniors, coorelating to the standards hasn’t been on the forefront of my mind.  But this has opened my eyes to the standards from a chemistry teachers perspective.  

From the website:

Chemistry in the National Science Education Standards, Second Edition, provides models for meaningful learning in the high school chemistry classroom. This valuable resource addresses the science education standards specified by the National Research Council and other issues of interest relevant to the current educational landscape.

High school chemistry teachers and administrators, university chemistry and science education faculty, and professional development providers will recognize this resource as a useful and timely text.

What’s new?

  • Updates on addressing the National Science Education Standards
  • New chapters on technology, English Language Learners, student misconceptions, learning research, AP Chemistry redesign and more…
  • Practical, classroom-tested examples of best practices in secondary chemistry education
  • Recommended Web sites and additional readings

Find it here:

Chemistry in the National Science Education Standards.

More chemistry education news and thoughts as I get them… Any and all comments are welcome!

Four Types of Inquiry


I came across this great article in International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education titled “Facilitating Chemistry Teachers to Implement Inquiry-Based Laboratory Work” (2007, 6: 107 – 130).  Basically, Dr. Derek Cheung implemented inquiry labs into seven classrooms in Hong Kong.  Cheung,  a Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, inserviced the teachers on inquiry and met several times with them throughout the research.

My goal next semester is to implement POGIL activities, inquiry lab work, and practical tests.  I have focused by reading on POGIL and I felt that this would be a great source for inquiry labs.  It was!  I wanted to share some of the major points of the article.

There are four levels of inquiry:

  1. Confirmation Inquiry – verifying concepts by following a procedure
  2. Structured Inquiry – following a procedure to find an answer
  3. Guided Inquiry – Teacher provides a question, students design an experiment to find answer
  4. Open Inquiry – Students ask the question, then find the answer

Cheung recommends that most of class time should be spent in guided inquiry. This also fits with the POGIL approach, but focusing on the laboratory.

 He then gives six criteria for implementing these labs:

  1. The laboratory work should be designed as a guided inquiry rather than an open inquiry
  2. The guided inquiry must engage students in solving real-world problems
  3. The solution to the guided inquiry should not be predictable
  4. The teacher should require a few groups of students to present their experimental plan orally so that a feasible procedure for collecting data can result from a consensus approach
  5. Teacher questioning is critically important during student oral presentations
  6. Assessmesnt criteria must be given to students in advance

I think these two lists provide a decent framework for creating an inquiry based chemistry classroom.  I hope to focus my classroom within the structured inquiry and guided inquiry bands.  However, I hope to implement one or two open inquiry labs.

I also found some other good information from Dr. Cheung concerning inquiry lab examples and multiple choice assessments.

What type of labs do you do in your classroom?  Share them here!