Thursday, February 17, 2011

Day 10 - Monday, January 31

Panic! I came in this day with the intention of finishing the revisions on the lesson during prep periods to give after school, but the teachers got together and decided that since Snowtorious B.I.G. was coming, snow days were probably on their way and they figured that with a schedule change, they could ditch the lab and still quiz on Friday like usual. Thus, I was up. Luckily it was only surface polish and homework questions that needed to be frantically added.

Also, Mr. CT wanted to hand the quizzes out today but hadn’t set up an online gradebook to record the grades. Since I had been grading lab reports over the weekend, I had already made one out of a graph paper notebook I had lying around, so I copied the quiz grades into it over the next few periods (Prep, AP, Advisory) and also added some black slides to the shared PowerPoint so I could work on the board without glare. Copying over the grades took a while, but I finally got the names of some people whose handwriting had prevented me from pairing whatever name they went by with the last names on the class rosters.

One thing I have to say: Mr. CT runs his organization on the pile system. I have nothing against the pile system per se, and he seems very comfortable in finding whatever he wants in his piles. However, the pile system is not exactly user friendly for those who did not create the piles, me in this instance. I mention this now because Van came in during advisory to make up a lab, most of which we got through but I was unable to find any copies of the lab handout to give him and had to print some up over lunch.

The presentation had some problems with it, of course. I was a little too cute with the numbers on my sample problem, letting too many things magically cancel and confusing the issue in doing so. I also didn’t have a very good ending for the day’s presentation prepared. I figured out that it worked best as a view towards history, noting that we chose to start with the theory and proceed logically from there, which leaves Gay-Lussac’s Law of Combining Volumes look like just a neat little shortcut without any greater meaning. In reality, the Law came first and was a perplexing fact that demanded explanation from the new and growing class of scientists. In discussing it they got to see that when it comes to teaching chemistry, the teacher has some choices to make when it comes to emphasis, and we chose to emphasize logical progression over history.

This kind of ties into one of my personal ideas of teaching chemistry from a historical perspective, or a debate of ideas perspective, or some other unusual perspective that might get a different angle of science than is usually presented. What about a chemistry course that was all about color? The production of new dyes was one of the biggest factors pushing the development of chemistry during the Industrial Revolution. Instead of starting with measurement and density (which every. single. intro. chemistry. textbook starts with) start with light and wavelengths and then work towards conjugated electron systems and metal-ligand vibrational states. Is it crazy? Sure it is, but that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t necessarily work for some students.

After classes ended The Chem 1 team met up to decide on who would work on the next part of the curriculum, since it might be a long time before we saw each other again.

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