Workshop #1, Day 1 Re-cap

27 Jun

Eight of us gathered at 8.00 AM and went through some introductions.

Setting up, Day #1

Setting up, Day #1

We have quite a diverse group, with experience ranging from 20+ years to just a few, and expertise and experience in middle school science, biology, math and a few other areas as well as chemistry. There’s a couple of the group with only one year of AP teaching under their belt, and some other folk with many more.

The first item on the agenda was my PowerPoint presentation, Teaching AP Chemistry the English Way. I generally like to start the workshop with it since it outlines some of my background and helps to explain some of my philosophies. This gives many of my thoughts some context, and I think helps to frame some of things that might come out of my mouth over the course of the workshop! It’s not a sales pitch, and certainly not something I necessarily say will work for everyone, but helps to explain me and what I do.



After the opening remarks we then carried out a very brief, corporate style, SWOT analysis for each of our AP classes in the 2013-14 school year.

We then moved on to tackling TOPIC #1 of the ‘Big Five’, Thermochemistry. We took a look at my bullet pointed study guide first, and then went for a very brief walk through of my notes on the topic. The next stage was to deconstruct a few AP problems with their teaching points, followed by a somewhat informal look at a couple of labs.

The labs that we looked at were one of mine that is based upon many, many similar ones out there, where the enthalpy change of the combustion of magnesium is calculated indirectly from reactions of Mg and MgO with HCl, aplab09b.

The second lab is from the ScholAR Chemistry series, #13 Enthlapy Change Determination, and is based upon an enthalpy of neutralization calculation.

ScholAR Lab #13

ScholAR Lab #13

The lab work was followed by a Free Response Question Writing session before lunch, where we managed to produce the equivalent of approx. 3, free response questions that could be adapted and used with our classes. The UNFINISHED questions that we produced in 30 minutes flat are hardly perfect, but at least they form the basis of items that could be developed and used on our tests in the future – a take away for future use.

Lunch was followed by a breakdown of the multiple choice section of the 2008 practice exam from the College Board, with teaching points discussed rather than answers generated.

Stephanie then showed us a couple of things that she uses with her classes, including a reactions demo activity, and the rich resource associated with the W W Norton, Chemistry Science in Context textbook called Chem Tours.

Norton Screen Shot

Norton Screen Shot

This looks like a really nice, FREE resource, especially if kids have been absent from school and need a little self-study option to catch up. There were a couple of really nice animations which looked very cool.

A few admin things wrapped up a busy first day.


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