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The "Socratic Method". Taking its namesake from the most famous gadfly in history, this technique in its original format involved instructors "testing" student knowledge of reading assignments, lectures, or perhaps applications of course material to a wider context by asking questions during the course of a lecture. Typically, the instructor chooses a particular student, presents her with a question, and expects an answer forthwith; if the "chosen" student cannot answer the question presented, the instructor chooses another and another until the desired answer is received.

In addition, once a student has answered a question they may not pay much attention as it will be a long time before the teacher returns to them for a second question. In spite of these criticisms, we feel that the Socratic method is an important and useful one; the following techniques suggest variations which enhance this method, avoiding some of these pitfalls.

Immediate Feedback. These techniques are designed to give the instructor some indication of student understanding of the material presented during the lecture itself. These activities provide formative assessment rather than summative assessment of student understanding, Formative assessment is evaluation of the class as a whole in order to provide information for the benefit of the students and the instructor, but the information is not used as part of the course grade; summative assessment is any evaluation of student performance which becomes part of the course grade. For each feedback method, the instructor stops at appropriate points to give quick tests of the material; in this way, she can adjust the lecture mid-course, slowing down to spend more time on the concepts students are having difficulty with or moving more quickly to applications of concepts of which students have a good understanding.

Critical Thinking Motivators. Sometimes it is helpful to get students involved in discussion of or thinking about course material either before any theory is presented in lecture or after several conflicting theories have been presented. The idea in the first case is to generate data or questions prior to mapping out the theoretical landscape; in the second case, the students learn to assess the relative merits of several approaches. Grouping students in pairs allows many of the advantages of group work students have the opportunity to state their own views, to hear from others, to hone their argumentative skills, and so forth without the administrative "costs" of group work time spent assigning people to groups, class time used just for "getting in groups", and so on.

Further, pairs make it virtually impossible for students to avoid participating thus making each person accountable. Cooperative Learning Exercises. For more complex projects, where many heads are better than one or two, you may want to have students work in groups of three or more. As the term "cooperative learning" suggests, students working in groups will help each other to learn.

Generally, it is better to form heterogeneous groups with regard to gender, ethnicity, and academic performance , particularly when the groups will be working together over time or on complex projects; however, some of these techniques work well with spontaneously formed groups. Cooperative groups encourage discussion of problem solving techniques "Should we try this?

Angelo, T. Bonwell, C. C, and J. Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom. Brophy, J. Synthesis of research on strategies for motivating students to learn. Educational Leadership Clarke, J. Handbook of Cooperative Learning Methods. Davis, G. Davis, T. Crow, L.


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Frederick, Peter J. Weimer, ed. Teaching Large Classes Well. Goodsell, A. Maher and V. Grasha, A. Herron, D. Johnson, D. Johnson, and K. Active Learning: Cooperation in the College Classroom. Kagan, S. Cooperative Learning. Mastering the Techniques of Teaching , 3rd. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. Marcus, Russell. Mazur, E. Meyers, C. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

McKinney, K. Morrissey, T. Exercise Exchange, 27, ED National Research Council. Nelson, C. Campbell and K. Smith, Eds. Editors, Interaction Book Co. Siebert, E. Silberman, M. Active Learning , Allyn and Bacon, Boston. Sharan, S. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Weimer, M. Los Angeles Collaborative for Teacher Excellence. Jump to navigation Skip to content. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Donald R. The "One Minute Paper" - This is a highly effective technique for checking student progress, both in understanding the material and in reacting to course material.

Ask students to take out a blank sheet of paper, pose a question either specific or open-ended , and give them one or perhaps two - but not many more minute s to respond. Some sample questions include: "How does John Hospers define "free will"? Muddiest or Clearest Point - This is a variation on the one-minute paper, though you may wish to give students a slightly longer time period to answer the question.

Here you ask at the end of a class period, or at a natural break in the presentation , "What was the "muddiest point" in today's lecture? Affective Response - Again, this is similar to the above exercises, but here you are asking students to report their reactions to some facet of the course material - i.

However, it can be quite a useful starting point for courses such as applied ethics, particularly as a precursor to theoretical analysis. For example, you might ask students what they think of Dr. Jack Kevorkian's activities, before presenting what various moral theorists would make of them. By having several views "on the table" before theory is presented, you can help students to see the material in context and to explore their own beliefs.

It is also a good way to begin a discussion of evolutionary theory or any other scientific area where the general public often has views contrary to current scientific thinking, such as paper vs. Daily Journal - This combines the advantages of the above three techniques, and allows for more in-depth discussion of or reaction to course material.

You may set aside class time for students to complete their journal entries, or assign this as homework. The only disadvantage to this approach is that the feedback will not be as "instant" as with the one-minute paper and other assignments which you collect the day of the relevant lecture.

Educational Strategies

But with this approach particularly if entries are assigned for homework , you may ask more complex questions, such as, "Do you think that determinism is correct, or that humans have free will? Explain your answer. Kevorkian's actions are morally right? What would John Stuart Mill say? Or you might have students find and discuss reports of scientific studies in popular media on topics relevant to course material, such as global warming, the ozone layer, and so forth.

Reading Quiz - Clearly, this is one way to coerce students to read assigned material! Active learning depends upon students coming to class prepared. The reading quiz can also be used as an effective measure of student comprehension of the readings so that you may gauge their level of sophistication as readers. Further, by asking the same sorts of questions on several reading quizzes, you will give students guidance as to what to look for when reading assigned text.

If you ask questions like "What color were Esmerelda's eyes? If your goal is to instruct and not merely to coerce , carefully choose questions which will both identify who has read the material for your sake and identify what is important in the reading for their sake. Clarification Pauses - This is a simple technique aimed at fostering "active listening".

Throughout a lecture, particularly after stating an important point or defining a key concept, stop, let it sink in, and then after waiting a bit! You can also circulate around the room during these pauses to look at student notes, answer questions, etc. Students who would never ask a question in front of the whole class will ask questions during a clarification pause as you move about the room.

Response to a demonstration or other teacher centered activity - The students are asked to write a paragraph that begins with: I was surprised that I learned that I wonder about It also helps students realize that the activity was designed for more than just entertainment.

Using Food to Stimulate Interest in the Chemistry Classroom

Questions and Answers While most of us use questions as a way of prodding students and instantly testing comprehension, there are simple ways of tweaking our questioning techniques which increase student involvement and comprehension. Though some of the techniques listed here are "obvious", we will proceed on the principle that the obvious sometimes bears repeating a useful pedagogical principle, to be sure!

The "Socratic Method" Taking its namesake from the most famous gadfly in history, this technique in its original format involved instructors "testing" student knowledge of reading assignments, lectures, or perhaps applications of course material to a wider context by asking questions during the course of a lecture. The wait time will generally be short 15 seconds or so - but it may seem interminable in the classroom. It is important to insist that no one raise his hand or shout out the answer before you give the OK, in order to discourage the typical scenario in which the five students in the front row all immediately volunteer to answer the question, and everyone else sighs in relief.

Waiting forces every student to think about the question, rather than passively relying on those students who are fastest out of the gate to answer every question. When the wait time is up, the instructor asks for volunteers or randomly picks a student to answer the question. Once students are in the habit of waiting after questions are asked, more will get involved in the process. Student Summary of Another Student's Answer - In order to promote active listening , after one student has volunteered an answer to your question, ask another student to summarize the first student's response.

Many students hear little of what their classmates have to say, waiting instead for the instructor to either correct or repeat the answer. Having students summarize or repeat each others' contributions to the course both fosters active participation by all students and promotes the idea that learning is a shared enterprise.

Given the possibility of being asked to repeat a classmates' comments, most students will listen more attentively to each other. It was a fun thing to do around the holidays and provided students with practice measuring in metrics. Carolyn Mohr Activity Points. The candy chemistry at the Exploratorium site encourages students to observe chemical changes as the temperature changes. I was amazed at how many students had little or no experience in the kitchen, and they were really excited to be able to measure ingredients and temperature changes as the consistency of the mixture changed.

We actually did it as part of a polymer project that a group of the students was working on. Hi Jennifer and Stephanie, There is a similar topic being discussed in the Life Science discussion board under the topic heading Organic Molecules. There are lots of great ideas for doing a kitchen chemistry lesson.

I'll repost this on the listserv, too. Maureen Stover Activity Points. I knew I had seen another thread with similar information. Another wonderful activity is to make density column using oil, water, molasses, and a few other common kitchen liquids, and then adding a few solids like a piece of a toothpick, a bean, etc Dorian Janney Activity Points.

I brought in orange juice, tomato juice, rolaids, pepto bismol, milk and yogurt. We used universal indicator paper, spot plate, and toothpicks for mixing and we tested about 15 that's all who remembered to bring something by lab day and eliminated duplicates and made a chart of the apparent pH's of the different substances. Students were surprised to find out that they ate or drank things that tested acidic and that they cleaned with things that were generally basic.

They had never considered that ordinary products could be acids or bases - even when we discussed that chemicals are all around us and in us, it seems to have brought it home at least a little! Tina Harris Activity Points. This activity sounds like so much fun, and a great introduction to acids and bases. Thank you for posting it! Megan Rawson 50 Activity Points. Have you seen a new book from NSTA? I have read one of the chapters that you can get in the Learning Center and will attach below.

The author gives details about how to handle the projects safely in the classroom. Susan German Activity Points. Hi Sue. I bought Gourmet Lab and have only started to read it. I agree that eating lab products sends a mixed message at best. I do like that there is a connection between science and life. Pamela Auburn Activity Points. Shakhashiri, shares the fun of science through home science activities, public presentations, scholarship, and other programs of the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy.

I noticed that both Jennifer and I have created collections on Kitchen chemistry. Here is the one that I created. I have another related collection Teaching Chemistry with cooking. I should merge the two collections. Anyone knowing how to do this please chime in. Here is the second collection. One activity that might be fun are what a colleague and I call "the sugar cube races" to help teach about solubility and how to change the rate of reaction. Students use sugar cubes place them in a beaker of tap water room temp and time the cube dissolving. Then crush up the cube and observe dissolving rate.

It helps to see how agitation, surface area, heat increase rates. Hope this helps. As for merging the collections-- maybe you just have to add the items one by one to one of the collections. If you find an answer let us all know. Here's a link to one handout that could be helpful not mineI only have a paper copy and it's not scanned in. Diana Soehl Activity Points. Pamela, Thanks so much for your post!

If you listen to them closely, you will clearly understand that they are building on what an average person already knows. Have a blessed night!! Adrienne Evans Activity Points. Loren Nomura Activity Points. We are harvesting our extensive garden at home and at the first year garden in our local school.

Here is an NSTA journal article! Korean Kimchi Chemistry Connecting science with different cultures is one way to interest students in science, to relate science to their lives, and at the same time to broaden their horizons in a variety of ways. In the lesson described here, students make kimchi, a delicious and popular Korean dish that can be used to explore many important chemistry concepts, including fermentation, chemical reactions, and acidity and alkalinity.


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  • During this activity, students use scientific techniques and methods to explore the nature of kimchi, they learn to measure the pH of a food using a variety of techniques, and they come to understand the ways that food can be preserved. Arlene Jurewicz Leighton Activity Points. Here is another suggestion.

    Go to Amazon. There are several good books out there. Write down the titles and then check your public library to see if they have them. You can check them out and get some ideas. Adah Stock Activity Points. Jeanne Lee Miller Activity Points. Arlene Thank you so much for sharing. I have been looking for ideas to present at the Sally Ride conference here in Houston in February. This give me some great "food" for thought. I like using kitchen chemistry in my classes because students seem to learn concepts better because it is much more relevant to them then using normal "chemistry class" chemicals.

    The fact that the students can actually do the experiment with items they are much more familiar with helps their understanding. Using red cabbage indicator for household goods seems to be one the favorites in my chemistry class, and many students are amazed that cleaners are basic which to them seems counter intuitive.

    Somewhere along the line, maybe from TV I think they get an idea that since they see acids dissolve things so they must clean things to.

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    I need to try the kim chee lab I read about above. Here in Hawai'i kim chee is very popular and this will make the concept of pH even more relevant to my students. Not to mention any thing that deals with food at the high school level is always a big hit among the students, especially if they get to sample. Colin Delos Reyes Activity Points. My Chemistry students and I also enjoy using kitchen and household goods in our experiments.

    These are two basic ideas, but they are simple, fun, and delicious! My kids love these two "labs": Ice Cream Lab specific heat and phase changes -- involves flavored milk and cream, if desired , sealed in a small Ziploc bag, then placed into a larger bag with lots of ice and salt.

    They measure initial and final temperatures and observe what happens to the milk and the ice. Then they get to enjoy the yummy goodness inside. Cover your tables with newspaper first. Students measure the masses of one unit of each ingredient; they also take note of the total mass of an entire package.

    I provide each group with a certain amount of each ingredient and they follow their recipe for creating a s'more. Thank you for all the suggestions and resources above. Francesca DePasquale Activity Points. Whenever I taught US History and we studied the Panama Canal, I would have the students drink a little tonic water for what was believed to be a malaria control. Last week, while studying Captain Cook, I had them nibble on a little bit of saurkraut for scurvy control.

    Have any of you used these in science lessons? Jennifer Perry Activity Points. Patricia Rourke Activity Points. Another good Kitchen Chemistry activity deals with proving or disproving the law of conservation of mass. Have students mass the popcorn that is in the pie pan before cooking and after cooking. I buy my popcorn at Target.

    They almost always have the popcorn in the pie pan with foil on it. Thanks to Patricia, Pamela and Francesca for your collections as well as ideas about ice cream. Constitution Day is coming soon and we always make ice cream since it was a popular dish with our founding fathers - I always try to include some of the science of freezing when we do this activity.

    Thank you for all your help. Levia Henckel Activity Points. For acids and bases you can use universal indicator or red cabbage juice, milk of magnesia and vinegar. Since milk of magnesia if Mg OH 2 and vinegar is a week acid with only has 1 proton to donate you can also show how balancing affects the amount of vinegar you need to add in order to neutralize the solution. Another fun activity is splitting water in a petri dish using a 9V battery, indicator and some simple wiring. If you hook up the wires to the positive and negative ends of the battery and put then in water with indicator will show how hydrolysis will produce an acidic and basic solution at the end of each wire and the color will change.

    Kate Dickinson Activity Points. I participated in the live web seminar and it was excellent. Now interested colleagues can click on the 'archive' button to view it at their leasure and download the ppt presentation. I got some great ideas! I sure wish I had the time that some folks have to find all this stuff!