Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications

Archive for the ‘In Class’ Category

September 23rd, 2014 by Luann

Lab Clean-up

This is the year I organize the lab.

Teaching kids to work efficiently and keep their work area neat is pretty intuitive. Washing glassware, however, is not. I’ve outfitted every station with a small plastic bin that contains a sponge, a towel, and a spray bottle of table cleaner provided by the custodial staff. There’s nothing to clean glassware. So, I added a medium-sized test tube brush to the can in each cupboard, and placed a salt shaker (2/$1 at The Dollar Store) filled with Alconox in each bin:

Alconox

Alconox

Alconox is my glassware-cleaning detergent of choice, when a cleaner is needed. Students usually wash their own glassware at their lab benches. They will dump a handful of Alconox in one beaker when only a sprinkle is needed. The shakers are about 12 cm tall, plastic, easy to refill, and yes, they are color-coded to match the table color scheme.

Update, November 24: Working quite well.

March 1st, 2014 by Luann

Instead of an instructional coach…

Here’s what I’d like to have instead of an instructional coach:

instead

Instead of a coach…. an assistant*.

Yup.  That’s right.

I want an assistant. Not actually an assistant for demos and teaching, although that could work. I want more of a, well,  lab manager.

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June 23rd, 2013 by Luann

The Paper Mill Project 2013

This post might well be titled “Adventures in Project-Based Learning.”

Students Working with Sludge

Sludge

You have to start somewhere.

It was an experience in jumping in feet first, and fortunately, also an experience in collaborative problem-solving. Based on the student excitement level, the student-initiated collaboration, and the chemistry-rich discussions involved, it was also a very successful experience.

I’ve learned that students find a final project more relevant than just a final exam. I’ve used either or both together as a final assessment.  One favorite in the past has been the scavenger hunt. Most of my Chemistry kiddos had done the biology version last year, so I wanted to provide them with a different experience in Chemistry.

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March 6th, 2013 by Luann

Student Guest Post: New Elemental Discoveries Strike A Chord with Chemists

This post is the college admissions essay written by an amazing (and now former)  AP Chemistry student, Cody Beam

Periodic Table of Band

Periodic Table of Band

                   I’m pretty sure Cody’s other intellectual abilities would have assured not only acceptance but the free ride they received. Cody shared this essay with me, and I loved it so much that I asked, and Cody granted, permission, for me to share it here.

Spectacular new advances have been made in the periodic table in the past couple of months. A grand total of 34 new elements have been discovered in the most unlikely of places: high school band rooms. A new alkali metal (Directorium, 119) and an alkaline earth metal (Band Geekium, 120) are the most prominent of the new discoveries followed by 32 others which form the Instruminide Series. Research is underway to determine the properties and habits of these elements, as well as why they had not been discovered before, and while there is still much to learn, what has been deciphered of these mysterious elemental additions is fascinating.

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February 18th, 2013 by Luann

Creativity and Science, Part 3

From Learning and the Brain Conference, Day 2, Friday.

Souls of Pe bring water for purification.

It’s pretty clear to me, perhaps because I’m looking for it, that however one views creativity, one has to know something to be creative in a productive sense. Rigorous content is part of most models of PBL and creativity models. I’m not sure this is obvious to everyone, though. I’ve always known that before kids can create productively, they have to know something. Granted, some world problems appear to be solvable on the surface by 6th graders playing with plastic cups and sand models of water purification systems, and 6th graders should play with these things. At some point, however, rigor and expectations need to stretch. How can this be done? Read the rest of this entry »

February 14th, 2013 by Luann

Creativity and Science, Part 1

I’m leaving tomorrow to attend Learning and the Brain’s Educating for Creative Minds conference.

I’ve been creative before.  Several of my quilts were chosen for an exhibit at an art museum

Brain

in Ohio. I’ve been creative in my classroom for years. It takes a great deal of creativity to keep teenagers engaged as they learn an abstract subject such as chemistry. I’ve created lessons, labs, projects, presentations, lab stations, grant proposals, graphics, models, rubrics, assessments, and a few bazillion things I’ve already forgotten about. Oh, and a dissertation, the production of which is fundamental to my question: What does it mean to be creative in science?

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December 31st, 2012 by Luann

This is not your father’s homework assignment.

Homework is evil. All homework. It’s a pile of worksheets; pointless, drill-and-kill busywork that overloads students brains, frustrates (or bores) them to tears, reinforces the practice of incorrect algorithms, destroys every creative cell in students’ bodies, and takes away from valuable playtime or family time. And it should never, ever be graded.

That’s the message sent by many who are trying to fix whatever’s wrong with education. I don’t buy it.

Sniffometer

Sniff-O-Meter

Our school is on an AB block schedule.  I see students at most 3 days a week (when we have a full week of school), so more often twice a week; sometimes 4 times in 2 weeks, and sometimes 6-7 days pass without meeting as a class when we have long weekends.  (Yes, I use electronic communication as much as possible, considering 20-25% or my students have neither an Internet connection in their homes nor a smartphone). To that end, my teacher-gut tells me that students who have deeper conceptual understandings and own their skills are the students who have stayed connected to their learning. I’ve become a fan of a few types of assignments to help students stay connected.  Some are most specifically, homework. Other assignments are directly connected to an upcoming inquiry or project lab. Other work is investigative, calculation practice, synthesis, or preparation for discussion.  Outlined below are some general types of “homework” students may expect to best support them as they learn science.

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July 14th, 2012 by Luann

Title IX in Engineering?

The misinterpretation of Title IX with respect to student gender quotas in university engineering departments on Joanne Jacobs’ blog yesterday received a bit of discussion Saturday on Twitter. Jason said, in reference to the post,

and then Bryan said

Jason replied, and @druinok responded:

 

A little later, this tweet popped into the conversation.

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May 24th, 2012 by Luann

Scavenging For Science

Many years ago, I needed something engaging for AP Chemistry students once their exam was over.  I found a scavenger hunt, hard copy as this was the olden days, handed out by the late Dr. Cliff Schrader at a conference.  I’m forever grateful to Cliff for so many things he gave out freely to anyone who asked.  Among so many other things, he taught me to share.

I reworked the list a little to reflect some things my students knew or in which they had shown interest.  The first few years, the kids worked in groups and competed to see which group could collect the most items the most quickly.

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April 14th, 2012 by Luann

Will I “Flip” my Classroom?

Truth is, I already did. Years ago.

About 2 years into my career, I figured out that if students arrived in class already knowing something about the day’s learning, they took away a deeper, more satisfying, understanding. We were able to use class time differently, in ways that helped us learn more authentically.

I did not need standardized tests, value-added evaluations, or clever new names for the method to figure this out, by the way.

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