Friday, June 25, 2010

Chemistry Part I

Okay. So I have sat down and really looked at next fall's chemistry curriculum. Last summer, we spent an intense week and wrote out our district's science curriculum. At the time, it made sense and looked like a good document.

Then I took it back to my classroom and realized it was a terrible document. Basically, we just rewrote our state standards. I realized that we have WAY too much information in those pages.

So, in the interest of SBG and concise information everywhere, I have started looking long and hard at what I need to teach in my classes.

I spent the entire morning trying to decide WHAT IS CRITICAL. For my first semester, I ended up with 15 standards. Not bad. Completely doable in a semesters time. They also allow for a little bit of wiggle room if the class is struggling or if the class is really clicking.

First Trimester Chemistry
1. Identify the subatomic particles, their locations and properties (mass and charge).
2. Describe the distribution of mass and volume and charge within an atom.
3. Determine the number of protons, electrons and neutrons in a given atom.
4. Determine the mass number of an atom.
5. Write the electron configuration of an atom.
6. Draw the Lewis dot structure of an atom.
7. Predict the oxidation number of an ion based on its Lewis dot structure, electron configuration or position on the periodic table.
8. Use an atom's valence electrons to predict it's properties.
9. Relate an atom's position on the periodic table to its reactivity, ionization energy, electronegativity and relative size of ions and atoms.
10. Describe the changes that result when an atom's electrons change energy levels.
11. Predict whether a pair (group) of atoms will form a covalent, ionic or metallic bond.
12. Name and write formulas for ionic compounds.
13. Name and write formulas for covalent compounds.
14. Describe the polarity of simple molecules.
15. Write balance chemical equations.

Maybe in need of a bit of editing, but I like this much better. This is what MUST be learned in my chemistry class. My plan at this point is for each of these standards to be an SBG standard at the 3 level of my 4 point scale. I realize some of these are pretty advanced concepts on their own, but this is what is one the state assessment, so that is how it made it to the critical stage.

Now I need to do this for the second trimester concepts.

Then the really hard part. I struggle a lot with expanding into the upper levels of learning, mostly because I have rarely had kids who could handle that type of assignment. Next year will be different, I assume (!).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Changing Rooms

I haven't accomplished much school-wise this summer. My daughter is playing softball, my sister got married last weekend and my son, well, my son is three.

My classroom has been cleaned out and the floors redone. Only now I find out that I am moving classrooms next year. I am teaching chemistry, so my principal is moving me upstairs to the chemistry "suite." It's a nice room, one room with desks for lecture situations and an adjacent room for lab activities. With any luck, we won't spend much time in the lecture room.

I'm not sure if this move is permanent or not. In all actuality, I'm not even sure what I will be teaching this fall. This leaves me a pretty big dilemma.

If you have never had a science classroom, you cannot begin to comprehend the amount of "stuff" that can accumulate. I inherited this room from a former earth science teacher a few years ago and STILL haven't managed to go through all the cabinets. (One key phrase here is "earth science teacher," I literally have a ton of rocks to move.)

Since I am not positive that I will not be coming back to this room, I really, really, REALLY don't want to move everything upstairs only to have to move it back downstairs next spring.


So for now, I won't move anything.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010



School's been out for a week now. The State track meet has come and gone. It's already doggone hot outside. And the custodians started stripping my floor yesterday.

Given that last little tidbit of information, I can't get into my classroom until at least next Monday. I thought about bringing my list home with me, but at the last minute, decided against it.

I am taking a week off. My kids and I are headed out to do a little geocaching and then to the pool today. Tomorrow, I see there is an NCIS marathon on USA. For some weird reason, I can turn that show on and get my house completely clean during the commercials.

My goal this summer is to spend one day a week in my classroom. If I can do that, not only will I have a clean room next fall, but I will also maybe have more than the first week mapped out for my classes. This is doubly important this year since it is entirely possible that I will be given another new class on the first day of school.

But now my kids are up and we are off to play.

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