Chemistry Teaching Exercise 1

Fri, Jul 24, 2009 5-minute read

Topic 1: Study Task 1 Reflections and issues What do you think chemistry is and how should it be taught?

  1. Think about your own definition or representation of chemistry. What does chemistry mean for you.? This question seems to easy to answer until I actually have to! Chemistry can be defined as a scientific language that describes process at a molecular or atomic level. At a personal level chemistry is one of the ways I organise my thinking and realisation of events or circumstances in my life. I use it when planning, analysing or thinking about gardening, eating, cooking, breastfeeding, cleaning, driving, painting. On a professional level my knowledge and understanding of chemistry has helped to form research but to the exact extent I am still to discover- I think?

  2. Below is one representation of chemistry? What do you think the author means by this representation? Is the author trying to develop an idea that chemistry can be represented in the simple everyday processes undertaken by humans? Chemistry can explain a lot but how often do we use chemical processes or techniques but do not term them chemistry but in other ways ie blending?

  3. Present your definition of chemistry as either a written definition or a visual representation of chemistry My chemistry definition:

  4. Think of your own chemistry learning, particularly in secondary school. What is it that you remember most about chemistry at this time? Interestingly not much! I remember the feeling associated with the subject: I enjoyed it, had fun and that it is was easy. What are the things you enjoyed the most? I got excited about making connections and developing the big picture and seeing it for myself. Was it a particular topic, an investigation, an excursion you went on, a particular event or episode that happened? Marine science year 10. It was chemistry but it connected with a real world. Pressure and density are exciting when you can see why it is good to know about it in a submarine. I realise now that my year marine science teacher was an expert at making science fun, relevant and easy.

a. What was the topic you enjoyed most in your own high school chemistry education? Why did you enjoy this topic? b. What was the topic you enjoyed least in your own high school chemistry education? Why did you not enjoy this topic?

Again I don’t remember having an overwhelming sense of this is better than that. Perhaps I have blocked it out I wonder? Or was it that I did what I had to, to pass? I felt positive about being there. I enjoyed being at school. I worry that there was an element of rote learning at school. In Sem 1 I did the math education unit and realized that I had managed to rote learn maths even in uni and did not really understand what maths was doing. In my placement I taught year 8 science about atoms- and it was really exciting for me to see them getting excited. I feel I learn more about the periodic table having to teach it than I ever remember learning at school. However I do acknowledge that the process of learning in a chemistry context was taught to me at high school and certainly retained and used when studying chemistry at a university level.

c. What was the topic you remember most about? Why? I only remember doing a project on Aluminum smelting in VCE. Two years of study and aluminum is it. I do think this is because I loved project work so I think it was the activity I remember rather than the chemistry.

d. What was the topic you remembered least about? Why? I forgot! VCE was forgettable my memories of learning chemistry really start at uni. I wonder if I was spoon feed at high school whereas at uni I was required to take charge of my own learning?

e. What would you like to know more about? To analyse a student understanding and learning ( ie knowing when to cover a topic or idea again or change the way to present or learn it).

f. What do you think was irrelevant about your own high school chemistry? Why? The notion that everyone in a chemistry classroom is a higher than average student. This is perhaps not unique to chemistry but at school you needed to do maths methods to do senior chemistry hmmmmm not good. I now see that having studied environmental chemistry that a grounding in statistics is as relevant to learning and understanding in chemistry as a more pure maths. The high school chemistry classroom, in my opinion, would benefit the presence of other types of intellects to drive some other forms of learning experiences- if we are all maths analytical then there may be the perception that there is less need for a musical or visual aid for learning chemistry.

g. What do you think was relevant about your own high school chemistry? Why? The process of learning to learn chemistry. We were also very maths analytical type learners and the program was built around this but I wonder was this because the school limited or discouraged the “drama” students to participate. All assessment was exam based!

What conclusions can you draw from your and others responses? Reading other student responses and comparing with my own reminds me that we will never teach the same type student more than once. Humans are so individual that the experience and learning in the chemistry classroom is unique for each student. WOW so how can a chemistry teacher develop lessons to deal with this and provide the right type of learning situation for each student. Perhaps there are patterns and clusters of learning ideas that can be utilised to do this?