Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blast Off!

This year my colleague and I made an effort to use more Smarter Science inspired lessons/labs in our department. We taught SNC 1D0 together last semester and used the Blast Off lab that used to appear in the applied 10 textbook as the formative lab for chemistry. We wanted it to be about the fun AND the scientific process more than it was about the content of Grade 9 Chemistry (we do start reactions in grade 10 and talk about chemical change, so that part is relevant regardless). This semester I am teaching SNC 1D0 and 1P0 so used this lab in both classes.

I am finding the 1P class challenging this semester. I have 21 students including 11 with official IEPs, 1 with an unofficial IEP, and 3 low level ESL students. The range of the class is astonishing and it is impossible to engage all of them for an entire period. I try to get the fast workers to be helpful and work with other students, but it does not always work out that way. I won't delve into the depths of my class though.

The point is that I used this lab and combined the use of the first two Smarter Science posters (with both classes actually) to help get them started (a process they had seen in full already) and combined it with the format that they would see for the summative and final performance tasks (we have taken the stance in the department that having them complete formal, typed labs during the semester and then use a hand-written format for culminating was counter-productive). They seemed to really engaged in the lab itself and really liked that they got to pick their own indepedent and dependent variables and were trusted to create their own procedure (with support and guidance of course). In the end the class averaged a 70% on the lab write up (which is awesome for the first one, even though it was heavily supported). I am pleased with the results (and also hope to continue getting the support of the school's student support teacher - there is a mini task force being set up to come up with an action plan for this group (in multiple classes)).

Challenge accepted!

Now imagine a class of film canister lids flying off - amazingly simple :)

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