Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 7 - Wednesday, January 26

During prep time we made explosives! Elemental iodine plus concentrated aqueous ammonia makes nitrogen triiodide. Once it dries, BANG!

AP – Molecular Orbitals today! I love molecular orbitals because they start to hint at how wacky electrons are in the wild. The example that Mr. CT, and apparently many books, uses to motivate the use of molecular orbitals is the magnetism of molecular oxygen. O2 is paramagnetic, which requires unpaired electrons, but the Lewis structures have every electron paired!

I know this is an observation that has been made before, but wave-particle duality is a difficult concept to express, especially if you don’t have the mathematics background to work through the wavefunctions that can actually tell you what the electron is doing. I don’t know how well the class is following.

We made the explosives to give a show at the end of this class, but discussion ran longer and the bell rang before we could set them off. So Mr. CT set one off for the people that stayed around, but that meant we had circles of paper lining the room with explosive chemicals on them, so my job in Advisory period became to watch over the lab area to make sure students didn’t touch them while Mr. CT went to teach his ACT prep section.

Chem 1 – It was my first time taking the whole period, and it was bad. I was unfocused and flailing in 1rst and 2nd section. In both of these I got to the last example problem of the slideshow anyways, which I consider more a testament to the lack of material in the slides than my great skill. I tried deriving a formula and I could tell it was, at best, ignored and at muddied the water, so I dropped that in 2nd and 3rd section. I realized later, when I was writing this all up, that every time I go to teach a dance class, no matter how planned it is or how many times I’ve taught it before, I get to the place at least a half hour early to get right in my head what I want to say and do. This day I went right from lunchtime to teaching, and I think a key to preventing this in the future would be to stay in the classroom during the lunch hour so I can get a sense of the lesson and how it ties in with the room.

I really don’t have a good grasp on how to handle 2nd section, they’re way to quiet and lethargic for me to get a sense of how well they understand me when I’m up in front of them. I know when I watch Mr. CT teach them it’s because most of them are bored, but standing there in front of them the class feels like a giant nothing and I lose my own sense of pace. I ask a lot of questions just so I can get something, anything out of them. Contrast this with my dance classes, where all I have to do is to tell everyone to try the move I just showed, and it’s a quick visual check to tell whether everything is great or terrible. When I’m good at a class format that is much closer to call-and-response, this lecturing to a room is not great for me.

I think the ultimate solution for my teaching style is to use a different approach in the future. Of course, with so much coordination going on and me still delivering the lesson plans that Mr. CT made, this isn’t yet an option. So, the patch is to move faster than I feel is right on the principle that the class is just bored and not confused into speechlessness.

2nd section did have some of the best questions, though. One vague question lead to the topic of how the molar volume related to mixtures of gases (22.4 L contains one mole of gas particles, whatever they happen to be, at STP) and then the question was clarified to asking about how lighter molecules can exert the same pressure as heavier molecules at the same temperature (temperature is a measure of Kinetic Energy, which depends on both mass and velocity. Smaller molecules move faster at the same pressure, so hit just as hard on the surface of the container).

3rd section was awesome. First we had to warn Maurice not to touch the papers in the back of the room. While setting up a demo I was asked if we were going to blow things up. We weren’t for that class, but Mr. CT was feeling puckish, apparently, and I set off one of the nitrogen triiodide papers, which had everyone excited. The actual body of the class went well, too. I had figured out what I wanted to say and how to day it, and this class is great for both responding to questions if I ask them and for asking questions of me if they do not understand something. I finished the whole thing with 7 minutes left.

It’s a little weird that I seem to take best to teaching the students that seem to be the least like myself. I know that there are complicating factors going on, like how close to lunch the previous two sections are and me becoming more familiar with the material as the day goes on, but the students I relate best to are the ones who complain loudest about not getting it and talk back sometimes, most of whom are in the third section.

Chem 2 – Significant Digits, my old friend, was the topic of this class. Not much for me to say.

I asked Mr. CT for feedback yesterday, and I didn’t feel like I got anything specific. This carried over to today, where I had obviously struggled quite a bit during the lesson. When it comes to teaching these classes I want specifics: do this and don’t do that and when you say Eudiometer try to enunciate more. I’ve seen more guiding principles than I can shake a stick a stick at, this experience should be about the pile of practical things that need to be learned that haven’t even been hinted at in class. He did ask if I wanted him to take half of the next day’s lesson to give me a chance to recover, I pushed for taking the whole thing once more, I wanted another shot at getting things right. Also, my teacher for the accompanying course was coming the next day and I wanted to show her what I could do.

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