Yeah, sure. You can teach quantum chemistry like you always have. I did.
You can stand at the front of the classroom and explain about the location of an electron, how it is oriented in space, and the probability of finding it at a given time.
You can explain with no diagrams or some of the traditional, hard to understand diagrams.
You can say, "If you are in the s orbital there is only one option for l and also for ml. That should be obvious based on it being in the s orbital."
Or you could really break the topic down into tangible, bite size pieces for your students. You could make students SEE quantum chemistry easily. (#DoodleNotes are awesome for this)
Imagine quantum chemistry with bright colors, simplified instructions, and specific illustrations that inspire understanding.
Now, that sounds amazing!
Do your students look at you like you’re speaking gibberish when explaining a new topic in chemistry?
Do you get no response when you say, “Any questions?” at the end of class? If is your classroom some days, it’s time to grab your uninterested student’s attention.
It is so frustrating when you have spent 50 minutes explaining a topic and get crickets. I know.
You think, “Did I explain it right? Did they just not listen? Should I have done more practice problems?”
No, they are bored.
Have you thought about how far out of their world some topics in chemistry are? For some students, we might as well be explaining rocket science.
Rock their world by trying one of these fun tactics and see your students become sponges in your classroom.
Yes, you may have occasional rowdiness (especially with #7), but they will be engaged.
And that involvement is what we all dream of seeing in our classrooms.
When you teach molar mass, do you just throw up example problems? Or, is there a strategy behind the examples you choose?
There isn't a right way to teach students how to calculate molar mass, but there is definitely a wrong way! When you are choosing your examples, make sure that there is a reason behind that example.
Start with a simple example and then build ideas onto that example. Don't just jump in with a polyatomic ion containing compound and think that students will instantly understand molar mass if you just explain it really well. (Pssst....I did that!!!)
So, if you can't start with a polyatomic ion, what type of problem is good to start with?
Students don't know the basic "chemistry language" when they start the class.
When you teach biology or anatomy or physics student already have a basic working knowledge of plants, and bones, and gravity. But chemistry is built on a table that they don't know and a lot of concepts they've never heard of that they need to master fairly quickly. This is why I color code as much as I can.
Many high school courses don't have time to go over formal charge, so you may need a refresher.
This is a complimentary post in order for you to understand more about the azide ion. To check out the ionic/covalent worksheet where this ion was introduced click here, or read the blog post of frequently asked questions here.
The problem: Sometimes an azide compound might look like a nitride compound at first glance!
I have a coloring worksheet that many middle school and high school teachers use to introduce or review ionic and covalent compounds. It's great because students color metals gray, nonmetals red, and polyatomic ions blue. This gives them a visual reinforcement that ionic and covalent compounds aren't just randomly established. There are rules. Using colors just makes it a little more fun! However, I get a few questions that come up on a regular basis that I'd like to clear up here.
I think the nitride ion has the wrong charge...
The Problem:Students hate taking notes because it requires more work on their part or they haven't been taught.
In our slide drenched classrooms where we post our PowerPoints and Prezis to our Google classrooms, students always have access to our notes. So, students think that they do not need to take notes since they have constant access to information. Some of my students have even said they have teachers that say not to take notes because they can get it online later. I haven't investigated, but I hope that isn't the case.
I was helping a student this week and I said, "Let me see your notes and I'll show you..." What I was saw was a bunch of scattered words on a piece of paper with no cohesion and thought process behind them. We harp about taking good notes, but let me ask you, have you ever taught a class how to take notes?
I haven't until now. Do you want to know what I learned?
Explain to your students that in order for your brain to store more information, you must process it as many times as you can.
Read it or listened to it-processed information once
Then, wrote it down as notes-processed information twice
Used notes to answer homework questions-processed information three times!
Notice there is no access it via Google Drive. :)
When we teach off a PowerPoint, they need to write down what is on the slide, along with your explanations. They can write it down during or after class, but they need to write it.
Here is the most important part for math and science classes especially. Teach the students to draw arrows from step to step.
Why did you divide in that step? What is produced in this step that is necessary for the next step?
What does this scientific cycle need this step? Where does that stuff come from?
Teach them to draw arrows.
Teach them to write down their questions.
Last, here is how I structure a 50 minute lesson around this idea.
Now, you can officially hold them accountable for their crappy notes!
The Problem: Students can't tell the difference in superscripts and subscripts when they learn to balance equations.
My solution is to teach this topic visually!
When I first started teaching, I'd look at the book that I was teaching out of and cut out several examples. My thought was that I would save time because once I had shown them the concept they should be fine, right?
Not so right.
Each of the examples in a book or lesson plan is usually teaching a different nuance of the topic. Once I realized that, I tried to accentuate that to my student by saying, "This example is an example of when you have this situation."
So, when I teach balancing chemical equations, I start by showing them a simple balanced equation. Then, we go though and count each atom type.
Then I show them an unbalanced equation.
We go through and count up each type of atom and they see that it is not balanced. Then I ask them how would we go about fixing this.
Usually a student suggests changing the subscript and at that point I draw this out to the side. I explain how the 2 subscript is explaining that the hydrogens come as a pair.
Next I ask what would happen if we had two of the NH3 Molecules instead of 1. First, I draw it. THEN I write it.
They usually see that the Nitrogens are now balanced and the hydrogens are not. I ask them how we could use math to turn 2 hydrogens into 6.
We usually get to an answer of 3 sets of 2 pairs of hydrogens. At this point I have them count on their papers and tell me if it is balanced.
The last thing I do is I write out the equation again with subscripts one color and superscripts another color. This leads us into the point that superscripts and subscripts are different and you can't just change superscripts into whatever you want.
Superscripts do not have Superpowers!
Hope that helps. If you'd like the free worksheet that goes along with this click here. There is a more involved($3) worksheet that is 3 pages and differentiated in levels here.
The Problem: All science teachers have a budget, and chemistry doesn't taste good.
Yup. I said it. We all have no money for labs. We often spend our own money for labs. But, what if we spent less and everyone got something out of it? So, even if you have to spend your own money you and the students get something tangible AND practical out of the lab. I'm talking about cooking with chemistry.
Crystallization, Saturation, Macromolecules and ...Fudge
Crystallization is a fascinating subject and if you let your students know how important this is to candy making, they just might pay attention. You can talk about how the boiling point depends on sugar concentration, and then lead that into a discussion on how seed crystals lead to crystal formation.
Boiling Point Elevation/Freezing Point Depression
Many teachers already use water for this lab and have students take measurements of the pure solvent and then with the solvent and salt, and again with sugar. But, what about taking this one step further by asking students to investigate whether adding salt to water is a significant way to raise the boiling point so that food cooks faster.(Hint: It isn't. You would need about a pound of salt for every quart of water to raise the boiling point by a degree or so. That's not going to end well. For anyone except Morton.)
I am currently working on a worksheet to demonstrate this concept, but it is still in the development stages. But, cake is a really cool way to explain macromolecules. Think about it! You have sugar(carbs), butter(lipid), eggs(protein), milk(protein or lipid), flour(carb), and based on each ingredient's purpose in the recipe you get cake.
When you look at each macromolecule you can also break it down into their monomer units. When you look at sugar you have glucose and fructose. Only after they get strung together do you get sucrose, and then those get strung together to become a carbohydrate.
You can do the same break down with the protein or the lipid.
I can break down just about any science subject into cooking so send me an email if you have a question or a lab that you would like a food-based idea for.
The Problem: Students can't see chemistry
I’ve been working with color memory techniques for seven years in the classroom and the question that I see come up over and over is, “What is color memory?" and "How do you use color effectively in your high school classroom?” I’m going to answer that question today.
When I got my first job out of college working as a lab tech I kept messing up the order of clear solvents that went into a process. I fixed my problem by color coding the labels on the solutions. Then, when I moved further into teaching and students would have a problem understanding a concept, I would use highlighters or color pencils to diagram concepts. I began to notice that I solved problems through color coding. I decided to further apply some of these techniques to my teaching, and it really helps students grasp concepts easier.
Hi! I'm CoScine Creative. I have developed and run a tutoring center at a small college. I also teach some of their algebra and chemistry courses. And I will neither confirm nor deny pranking my students by pretending to be one.