March 2015 | Editorial
Same Content, Updated Mechanism
A teacher of chemistry is a teacher like no other. In addition to planning lessons, assigning and grading homework, maintaining contact with each student and their families, attending faculty meetings, being an active member in the school community, and staying current in your discipline, you have to keep inventory of a prep room, ensure that the labs you have your students do are safe and pedagogically appropriate, and figure out ways to explain to your students that all this stuff they can’t see really exists.
If that were a job description, would you really apply?
The fact remains, you are a dedicated educator. You love what you do. And you’re willing to go the extra extra (no, that’s not a typo) mile. Even though chemistry content hasn’t changed in a way that affects a K–12 curriculum in more than 100 years, how we teach students now looks very different than it did 25 years ago, without a doubt.
But as recently as five years ago, chemistry instruction looked different than it does today. I think it’s safe to say that technology is rapidly creeping into classrooms. More schools are implementing one-to-one Chromebook, iPad, or other computing device policies, and maintaining a teacher webpage is an expectation of many schools. When I was teaching, cell phones were banned in classrooms. Now, just four years later, students are encouraged to use their mobile devices during instruction, whether as a tool for a clicker activity or to take a photo of an apparatus to include in a digitally created lab report.
Many have experienced regular interruptions to their school year—snow. To avoid tacking on school days and delaying summer vacation, some schools in the Washington, D.C., area have adopted online snow days. When a snow day is announced, students are expected to visit the school’s website and complete assignments posted by their teachers. Because they are fully engaged in school work even though students are not physically on school grounds, these days are recognized as contact days, and summer vacation stays intact. Ten years ago, this would never have been possible.
With these ideas in mind, I ask that you share with us and our readers how you use technology in your classroom. Tech Tips is a section of Chemistry Solutions that provides you the opportunity to share how you incorporate technology in your teaching. Do you have a favorite online tool that you use with your chemistry students? Write about it. Is there a website you have your students use to learn a certain concept? Introduce it to the community. Have you stumbled across an app that can be incorporated into chemistry instruction? Explain how you use it in your classroom. Do you have something you want to share but you need help turning your idea into an article? I can help—email me AACTeditor@acs.org.
Busy teachers like you have great ideas to share in this action-packed issue of Chemistry Solutions. It contains suggestions of how to organize a year, or unit, to successfully teach chemistry concepts. You can read about ways to identify whether students are “getting it.” Learn about activities that help students realize chemistry is all around them. And find out about technology that can be seamlessly incorporated into the learning process.
These authors, with a combined 138 years of K–12 teacher experience, aren’t suggesting new chemistry concepts to teach students, but rather they share innovative ways to deliver the material. Technology isn’t going away, so we should embrace it and use it to engage our learners. So as a chemistry teaching community, let’s help each other keep our subject matter delivery up-to-date, interesting to learn, and relevant to the generation we’re responsible for educating.
As always, I think you will enjoy this issue of Chemistry Solutions!
Chemistry Solutions editor