I want this page to show what my classroom feels like. I want it to show the kind of environment that I like to have in my classroom and the kind of things I like to do to enhance learning. What you see here is by no means a comprehensive list of all that I do, but it gives you a taste. Enjoy!
To enhance student learning, I created a classroom website. I put up links to videos and websites that would help my students with their home work as well as all of their assignments, practice problems and answer keys. Students could access anything they missed or get extra help whenever they had access to the internet or their smart phone.
Hands on Learning
Rate of Reaction- This is one of the experiments that we did to experiment with reaction rates. The students added Alka Seltzer antacid tablets to water and then timed the amount of time it took for the produced gas to blow the film canister top off.
I chose this video because you can hear my students talk to each other about the different methods they used to do the experiment. They created their own method and had to keep it consistent throughout. When students talk about their learning on their own, it is authentic, and that made me proud!
Thermodynamics – Thermodynamics is about the transfer of heat and being able to calculate heat. In this activity, I wanted my students to make connections between three things, heat, energy and calories. Calories are heat, and when you burn food, you can collect the amount of heat, and do a simple calculation to find the amount of calories. It was really cool to see how much energy three Cheesies gives off.
My favorite question during this activity was “My body has to create that much energy to break that Cheesie down?!?!?” Yes, yes it does!
Pictures- I hope the following pictures show the type of classroom that I like to have. I think hands on learning is the best kind of learning because it builds connections in the brain that allow for true understanding. If you talked to one of my students, they would tell you that often they would walk into my classroom and find the desks in a different arrangement. I liked mixing it up on a daily or weekly basis, they were forced to sit with new people and explore science in a different way.
As an activity to both introduce a topic and search for my students pre-requisite knowledge, I gave them a list of common products, and they had to list them from most acidic to most basic.
Thermodynamics- This is a video trial of an experiment that I did to start the year off with a bang (no pun intended)! The reaction lead to many different content discussions such as combustion, energy and heat.
Structure of the Atom– To learn about atomic theory, I had my grade nine’s become ‘experts’ on five different models of the atom. They had content criteria that they had to cover but there were no restrictions on how it was to be presented. This is an example of a presentation on JJ Thomson’s model of the atom, it was not the best presentation we had, but my students never forgot what JJ Thomson did for chemistry because of these student’s creativity.
Introduction to Acid/ Base Chemistry – Before I begin a unit, I like to do a demonstration that shows one of the concepts that we are learning about, and then I ask them questions about the demonstration to dig for what pre-requisite knowledge they may or may not have about that content. On this day, my students had no idea that they were starting a new unit, I just walked into the room and started telling them about this time that I worked in a restaurant, and the magic pitcher I invented while I was there. The students thought I was crazy, until I began doing the “magic.” My videographer missed the beginning speech so ill give you the jist of it.
I told my students that I used to work at a restaurant where the crazy owners were really cheap, so they only sold two types of beverages, water and raspberry lemonade. These restaurant owners where also so cheap that sometimes I had to cover 10 or 15 tables at a time. Most of the time it felt like I needed three hands to do my job, one to hold the water pitcher, one to hold the raspberry lemonade pitcher, and one to hold my note pad to take orders. So I invented this magic pitcher, and this is the story of the first time I used it when four finicky and indecisive customers came into the restaurant:
The best way to have relationships with students inside the classroom is to develop relationships outside of the classroom. For me, this included going to sports games (I wish I would have done more of this), judging the Halloween costume contest, helping the student council make candy bags and other food items for their events, taking pictures for the year book and helping with the school musical.
Every day after school and Sundays, I would spend a few hours with the 40 students involved in the musical. I mostly helped with the choreography and I did other production jobs as necessary. I played piano for students to run vocal parts, painted props, helped apply the male stage make up and did whatever I could to help out.
One of my other big jobs was decorating the lobby of the venue in the 1920’s theme to match the era of the musical. We had a coffee, hot chocolate and biscotti bar, a silent film, and live music. We also had 1920’s “cigarette girls” that carried around trays of candy bars to sell as a fundraiser. Another big project was putting together the board with all the actors biographies and pictures which you can see in the short slide show here:
**Students seen in pictures are left nameless for their protection. Each student has a signed media release form.