Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 27 - Thursday, March 3

After Wednesday I had finished the presentation with the first section of Chem 1 and had a little ways to go with the other two sections, and Mr. CT and I pondered how to incorporated the lab with the rest of the presentation. The lab called for making a supersaturated solution, in the procedure it called for making it over the open flame of a burner and cooling it down. After playing around with it in Ms. Bio's class, we realized that it would work just as well with a hot water bath, which has the benefit of being mostly hands-free. Thus the procedure became setting up the dissolving in the hot water bath, letting it go and coming back to their seats for the rest of the lecture, then leaving back to the lab to finish the part they started and do the third part of the three-part lab, leaving the second part for the next day.

One complication that seemed like it might crop up was that there was some sort of chorus event going on that was going to be pulling a lot of students out of school. Apparently chorus is big in this school. My classes didn't end up being particularly hard-hit, but I heard Ms. Bio's classes were devastated.

The set-up seemed to work well even though there were 2 separate scene changes in the day (back from lab and out to lab). Mr. Ct worked behind the scenes getting chemicals out for the lab group while I answered questions about what was going on and directed what they were doing. Incidentally, I'm not sure about this culture where the teacher does all the set-up and clean-up and parcels out the chemicals for the lab groups. I seem to remember a conversation early in my time there that indicated that this might be a response to the shortened periods, but it's still pushing an awful lot of work onto the teacher that should, if the idea is to teach the students how to properly work in a laboratory, be the responsibility of the individual students. There's the idea that if they don't get the correct results then they won't be able to fill out the lab worksheets, but then this punts to the other idea I wrote about yesterday, where maybe that style of lab is too restrictive for its own good.

I thought the question-and-answer sections worked out well for the classes, confusions were addressed and the labs proceeded smoothly. Working with actual dangerous chemicals can produce a lot of interest. We were using solid sodium hydroxide pellets for part 3 of the lab, and I warned the students not to touch that particular chemical, telling that it damages you by turning your skin to soap. This produced a fair bit of excitement amongst the students. Maurice asked a question about using it to make soap out of the fat taken out of people from liposuction and-after I suspiciously asked him a question about it- he told me he hadn't seen Fight Club! He came up with one of the central activities/metaphors of the story independently. Then Rick, who was in the same lab group, had a light-bulb moment and asked if that was why there was a picture of soap on the cover.

I learned that Constance has, "a 504 plan or something like that. She has problems with something in learning." which would have been a lot more helpful to know earlier.

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