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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Week 4 begins

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Whew. Today was the unit test on measurement and matter. I’ll start grading shortly. 

It’s been a whirlwind already, with some pretty intense students. I’ve never had students who could review significant figures, dimensional analysis, measurement rules, and other number handling… in 30 minutes. I’m starting to wonder how much I can throw at them, and how much I should throw at them. I hafta figure out pacing on a whole new level. I have a feeling that they might take what I toss their way. I’ll have to be careful about what is actually reasonable. 

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Whiteboarding and Thinking in Questions

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I’ve joined Sam Shah’s group in  asking better questions. I don’t think this entry completely belongs there, but I did enjoy this particular bit of class today. 

Part of this year’s changes for me is a whole class-set of big whiteboards, and I’m making a conscious effort to utilize them during class. I really liked the things I saw at ChemEd this summer, and I want to see if I can get those benefits to my students this year. 

In class, we reviewed phase changes, then in groups, students draw a macroscale and a microscale version of a phase change. Every class had a group who made Frozen‘s Olaf melt, as well as the Wicked Witch of the West. Some pretty funny things with sublimation too. *

But here’s where I changed a thing. I had all of the groups present their drawings, and announced that two groups needed refinement or fixing. They went back to their drawings looking for mistakes. After a different class presented, I said for everyone to get up and see if any boards needed fixing or refinement, and to do so. This second class got a lot more out of really examining other people’s diagrams, and a lot of discussion chatter came out of it. I think they probably got more out of the repairs than the previous class. 

This probably isn’t ground-breaking for lots of teachers, but for me, it was good to know how I could trust my students (and how they trust each other) to honestly critique peer work. 

* I really want to post pictures of student work, but my district is really restrictive of it.