October 27, 2009
Chemistry Teaching Musings (VI)
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
I am slightly upset that I have somehow ‘lost’ couple posts in my draft box, but this will have to suffice until I get funnier stuff up.
Life lately has been waxing and waning as usual and in some ways, I am being very productive and in others, I feel very stagnant. But in regards to the many realms of chemistry, I have been finding my current chemistry class fascinating just because it is so different from any previous chemistry class I have had or heard from Sarah, Mally and other IFSers. The following notes and observations were made both in my chemistry class and other classes I am taking this semester.
What I have learned (so far) that works in teaching a chemistry class:
—Worksheets. It brings organization in both what the teacher is doing and what topics are being covered in different questions.
—Humor. (No I am not joking. Bad joke… seriously.) Humor is a technique to get students’ attention and relate material to something a kid can remember–like now I will always associate P1V1=P2V2 with a can of hair gel blowing up. (But I find that funny for another reason…) Or the first law of thermodynamics with Homer Simpson.
—Powerpoints–but just for concepts, not math. It is nice to associate diagrams and images with concepts. And powerpoints can be good if done right. This is a sparingly used technique it shouldn’t be used three times a week.
—Doing problems on the board. It sounds elementary, but assigning problems and actually seeing problems being done in a systematic manner on the board really helps. Except when the teacher goes too fast and Faith786’s brain blows up. Again.
—Practice Quizes and Exams. Although I have very mixed feelings about my current quizes and exams and whether or not they actually *assess* whether or not a student knows the material, giving practice exams and quizes really helps kids get their feet wet in what to expect and I firmly believe can help their test and quiz scores than not having one. The real problem isn’t the practice exam, but the exam itself.
—Discussions. Teaching the concepts is one thing, but to get kids to tell those concepts back to you or to other students can help the teacher know if the kids know and help the kids know if they didn’t already know it. Although it can be a time waster, doing this at the beginning or the end of every chapter can be done realistically (you can write a sheet of things to talk about and make kids tell it to each other and the other student writes down what the first one said, etc.)
—Make kids write and solve problems on the board. You can make more than one kid do this on the board at the same time if you know what problems they are solving ahead of time. This is excellent for making kids think on the spot, good for a teacher to figure out how long they take to solve the problem, to see *where* the student starts to struggle, makes kids pay attention because they may get called on next, and a teacher can see the method a student uses to solve the problem and can check if there are any ‘logic’ holes in it.
—DO. YOUR. OWN. LABS. I may spend forever on lab reports, get mad percent errors and curse out microsoft excel, but I know I have learned more in one lab this semester than all my previous labs from all my chemistry classes COMBINED. Yes, I learned more from mixing water and fruit juice the third week of lab than in my high school lab on oxidation reduction with the ‘brown gas’ *permeating* the hallway. (Shameless Shalaby reference. How dare I mention his name on my blog–now my blog must do ghusul….)
That is a sufficient list. Now the stuff that don’t work. (I hope none of my professors/old teachers are reading this)
—Too much of anything. Too many problems, worksheets, powerpoints, lectures, discussions will make anything turn stale. I am not saying you have to juggle things every day, but doing the same thing two weeks straight might may me go bonkers.
—Not giving homework/not grading homework/not giving comments on homework. Yes, I said it. Homework is *critical* for students AND teachers to learn. It forces kids to practice what they have learned, it forces teachers to assess if the kids have learned it, it makes students write things in a logical and coherent manner and it helps teachers modify their current and future teaching plans (whether or not they can move on or if there needs to be an emphasis on something)
—Lecture. Lecture. Lecture. Yes, I pay for a teacher to teach me, but not to *lecture* me. I can go to detention for that. Lecture is a method of teaching but teaching is a culmination of methods of transferring knowledge. If all I am going to hear is a lecture, I’ll leave a tape recorder in class and pick it up later.
—Being mad. Notice I didn’t write being happy or smiley in the other list. I do believe a person should be happy and smile, but even I’ll admit that a teacher should be more strict at the beginning of the year. But being mad will just *mess up* the class and potentially the whole year. I won’t say you should be corny and smiley the whole time, but I will say you shouldn’t be angry. That can have serious effects not only in the classroom, but whether kids will continue to listen or not.
—Not showing an interest of the student. I believe I have talked about this before, but again, I am not saying that you should get in their drama. I don’t care and I don’t want to get involved. But showing an interest shows you care and that can help a student perform much better and admit when he/she needs help.
…I have more to say so I may update this later but I need to get to bed. (Sarah: This early?) 😄