Monday, March 9, 2015

My Own Winter Term Comment

At NAIS Conference with my friend and mentor Ellen on the last day of the winter term.
I just finished writing winter term comments for my students.  I thought it only fitting to write one for myself.  Here it is.  I think I got an A- for the term.

Sharon had a good winter term with her chemistry students.  This term she was faced with the significant challenge of teaching the mole concept to her honors chemistry students.  Although this is a challenging unit to teach for many reasons, (including, but not limited to, the fact that kids just don't understand it, and it can be a bit dry) Sharon rose to the occasion with a new stuffed mole to lift everyone's spirits.  This class mascot served as good moral support for the students as they worked through mole problems on white boards and in the lab.  She also chose to start the AP Chemistry term with electron configurations and periodic trends.  What was she thinking?  Coupling this abstract unit with the mole concept is virtually a perfect storm for frustration because these are the least exciting parts of any chemistry course.  There was an audible sigh of relief from Sharon and her students when both classes moved on to the next topics.  The celebration was short lived in her AP class when the students learned that kinetics and equilibrium were on the agenda for the rest of the term.  Even though her students were having difficulty with the integrated rate laws, Sharon was once again in her element with this data-drive, lab-based unit.  She continued the article review project this term with only the honors classes.  Although she started the term with a renewed sense of purpose for this science literacy project, she had difficulty sustaining the attention for details needed to really pull it off.  Her improvements to the project this term included a shared google doc to track the articles each student chose, student choice of a week for their due date rather than one day in the term, blocking out vacation weeks and mid-term weeks from the schedule, and allowing students to work with a partner on the assignment.  These changes were steps in the right directions for implementing a rich experience for the students, but she lacked the follow through necessary to really pull it off.  However, the article tweets on the class Twitter feed were very popular amongst her followers and often favorited and retweeted.  Overall, Sharon conducted her classes with attention to safety, an eye for fun, and an intensity that helped to warm the hearts of her students during this ridiculously cold and snowy New England winter.