ImagineIT - Phase 5
Conferring with Colleagues, Student Focus Groups, and Short Report
How to Make the Ordinary Extraordinary
Below is the lesson in italics with teacher (T) and student (S) feedback following:
Instructions: At the beginning of this school year, I gave you showed you a quote by Democritus. Now that we know a little bit more about Chemistry, let us continue our conversations. In groups of 3-4, you will have a discussion of the history and philosophy of chemistry. This discussion will continue throughout the entire school year.
Focus Groups –
In general, my teacher colleagues like the idea and hope to see the results of it play out. From the technological standpoint, one teacher pointed out the computer lab situation, which have changed since last year. There should be access to some specific programs that allow video recording and editing (that will not be blocked by the server). Teachers like the idea of an open discussion, and suggested I give jobs to each of the students within the group.
The student focus group consisted of former students. They liked the idea of abstract thinking of chemistry, as they found physics to include this. The preparation of thinking that way would have been helpful. Students like the idea of group discussion, but suggested groups be chosen by teacher instead of students choosing groups.
I. Three Words
“In order to understand the very large, we must understand the very small.” ~Democritus
Take a moment and write down three (3) words that come to mind when you read the Democritus quote above.
Share with your group. Do any of your words overlap? In your group, choose five (5) words to add to the “Word Wall”.
T. Try rephrasing to “What comes to mind when you think about the quote. What do you think this quote means and how does this relate to our world.” Also, when in groups, discuss with your groups your ideas. Give two idea on how this manifests in the world today.
S. Quote is interesting. (It took a few minutes to get them to understand the idea of a focus group.)
II. A Parody for Electrons
“The electron owes its practical utility to its smallness. It might parody Shakespeare to say ‘my use is great
because I am so small’.” ~ J.J. Thomson
What do you think J.J. Thomson is trying to say here? Discuss with your group and come up with a new parody.
T. Be careful with the second quote because the kids can go way off topic. Make sure you clarify that they stay on point in the STEM disciplines. This could be tricky. Be sure to have clear instructions, otherwise kids will definitely go off task. Perhaps see their English teacher for help.
S. Make sure you define what a parody is. Some students may not understand the meaning and may run into confusion. Also, students understood the teacher focus group concern of students getting off task. “Ms. Young,
you know what happens…” (In previous years, our class discussions would tend to go off topic from time to
III. The Arrangement of Electrons
“The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way the atoms are put together.”
~ Carl Sagan
Thinking about this by yourself, what do you think Carl Sagan means by this quote? Give an example.
Then, in your group, decide which example you would use to demonstrate your knowledge of atoms coming together to
form unique substances. You are asked to create a 1-2 minute video in which you demonstrate your understanding. Be creative. Once you finish your video, you are to find a way to make it to me. Either upload on YouTube or Vimeo, email me, or bring in a USB connection to your phone to download onto my laptop.
The videos will then be uploaded to the class website and voted on based on a simple criteria of understanding of the concept and creativity.
T. Most kids will be fine, you will still have to explain to some students how to use the video program and how to
upload appropriately. Check ahead of time about which programs are available. Make sure students
understand appropriate behavior when recording themselves. Parent permission may be needed. Check with
administration before continuing.
S. Students generally liked the idea of the video, but were not quite sure how to feel about if it were placed
online. Sometimes if one person dominates the group they may not feel their voice is being heard. Students
did not think it was a big deal to post online; however, it may be good to show rules how to make professional videos.
There were no trends or surprise, except for the former students saying how much they would have loved to do this as my student, but I do remind them it is hard to imagine if they would have actually liked this when they were in the class. It was a nice discussion, nonetheless.
One major takeaway would be how to continue to move the idea forward. One teacher suggested that since there are not many chemistry programs, I should have my students develop a computer program or app for chemistry.
I look forward to modifying and adding to this project as the school year continues.