I am the one and only chemistry teacher in a small rural high school. I have been teaching for 20 years. I teach two levels of first year chemistry and AP Chemistry. We have been on the 4x4 semester block for about 13 years. I know what it is like to begin teaching with no support. So, if anyone is new to the profession and needs some ideas, feel free to ask.

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Hi Ceil,
Congratulations on starting a science group - I was about to create one myself, but why re-invent the wheel? I am also a science/maths teacher in a small, rural school, although ours is a prep to year 12 school. I don't teach senior chemistry, but junior science and VCE environmental science, as well as maths and a Year 9 program.
How do you use technology in a science classroom and what are your greatest successes in teaching chemistry? My site is at http://www.brittgow.globalteacher.org.au
Ceil,
Here is my plea for help. I am a relatively new teacher, a mid career convert from the feild of engineering in manufacturing to teaching math and science. I have a wealth of practical experience to offer students in the areas of physics and math but when it comes to chemistry my imagination falls short.

I am looking for resources and suggestions that will allow me to create interesting lessons that will begin from a concrete level of student experience and bring students to an understanding of beginning chemistry.

My missing piece is not so much understanding the concepts but I am weak on tying these to the daily experience of the kids. I am looking to make the concepts real in terms of the students' experience outside of school.

My students are 8th graders and materials for grade 8 or grade 9 ages would be appropriate. Thanks for any assistance that you can provide.
Hi Bruce,
I teach 8th grade Physical Science. I also try to find ways to make chemistry relevant to the students. I try to do some story telling projects along with our labs. For example, they made "Seasonal Science Stories" in which a character falls asleep while studying and wakes up to a world where they see science details in everything around them...they see particles of ice speeding up as the icicles melt, they see that the sun is a plasma ... then they make either a poster with one section for each season or a story that has 4 "chapters". In another project students write a "Science Fiction" story to incorporate the lessons on heat and heat technology. I also may try a project where students take photographs at home and then write a script to narrate their photo showing either the meaning of a vocabulary word or concept. Then these can be put together on one wiki page or podcast. I'd love to hear some of the ideas you come up with.
Cathy
When I want to start at a basic level of understanding I go hands-on. I try to give them a broad array of experiences and opportunities to play with ideas. I wait before I dig into the variables, hypotheses, etc... Just let them have some base experiences. I also try to throw in a discrepant event that will later on be addressed. These things often motivate kids, give everyone some base experiences, allow you to further assess prior knowledge, and reveal misconceptions. So for example, before beginning a unit on state changes in matter I might cause some water to boil in a sealed container by dumping ice on the container. Then students are given opportunities to boil or try to boil a variety of liquids (all safe- no flammables of course). They make and share observations. Later we move into some labs to really understand the processes involved.

One other thing. I too was a career changer. I came in with a research science background. I think I began to get good at what I do when I left aside my knowledge. I let a little out, now and then, and only when asked. What I have found more valuable is the enthusiasm that led me to do science. Middle school kids will often try to show they don't care, but usually they do care and will show it if you do.

By the way, if you haven't seen Catherine's wikis you should check those out- lots of good stuff there. She didn't add the link, but you can get there through her page.

Oh, you might try Molecular Workbench. I tried it this year and my students enjoyed and learned from. I am sure there are others out there too.
Here is the link to this year's class wiki www.team8blue08.wikispaces.com and this is for last year's wiki www.team8blue.wikispaces.com. I also am a second career teacher! I started teaching at 30 after working as an IVF embryologist for 6 years and a research technician for 3 years! I wonder if career change teachers are more common in science teaching than other areas of education.
Thanks for your interest in the Molecular Workbench. The URL you suggested goes right to the tool, but also look at http://molo.concord.org for over 100 free, tested learning activities that use the MW. Pass it on.....
Hi Bruce,

I would get a review copy of Active Chemistry. There are some great activities in there that might give you ideas for lessons. Check it out at www.its-about-time.com

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