This Thursday at Global Chemistry Department: Ramsey Musallam

By | October 2, 2012

We’re excited to have Ramsey Musallam present this week at Global Chemistry Department. He’s blogged extensively about his use of the Explore-Flip-Apply learning cycle in his AP Chemistry course. At Thursday’s meeting, he will describe what this looks like in a typical unit, and how he assesses student understanding.

You can learn more about Ramsey by visiting his blog or course site.

We’ll begin at 9:00pm EST/6:00pm PST. I hope to see you there!

If you miss a meeting, you can find the recordings at the Global Chemistry Department site.


Thursday, September 20: Join us for the first Global Chemistry Department meeting

By | September 15, 2012

The Global Chemistry Department will meet biweekly on Thursday nights at 9-10:00pm EST. Its an opportunity for chemistry teachers to meet for free, real-time professional development.

Our first meeting will be this Thursday, Sept 20, and our first speaker is Corey Kilbane.  *Note, this week’s meeting will start at 10:00pm* His topic is Video as Pedagogy:

The Flip Class concept has been a education buzz word for the last several years.  If you’ve been to any educational conference, someone has been talking about it.  There are now tons of resources to learn easy ways to make video lectures. But I believe that something is tragically missing from these discussions . . . pedagogy.

In my talk, I will show how you can expand the use of video in your classroom, as well as options to make those videos more effective.

If you haven’t signed up yet with BigMarker, click here. You can easily sign up with your Google, Facebook or Twitter account, or an email address. Then, you can join the Global Chemistry Department, and receive email reminders of our meetings.

I hope to see you at our first meeting!


Coming Soon: Global Chemistry Department

By | August 29, 2012

This summer #chemchat (a twitter chat for chemistry teachers) launched on Wednesday nights at 8:30-9:30pm EST. Its a great opportunity to tweet with fellow chemistry teachers about a specific topic (inquiry, project design, dimensional analysis, demos, etc) to talk about the “why,” best practices, specific ideas that can be carried into the classroom. You can access the archives here.

I think there is room for a different kind of chemistry education discussion. Inspired by the Global Physics Department and the Global Math Department, Corey Kilbane (@CentralScience) and I are working to launch the Global Chemistry Department.


A non-twitter, multimedia platform will allow us to share and collaborate in whole new ways. Using BigMarker as our platform, we can usetext chat, audio, webcam as well as uploading files or presentation for easy sharing. The Global Chemistry Department could be a place to have live discussions, such as:

  • Lesson Spotlights: A teacher shares the details of a successful lesson, lab or unit, or of a unique way of approaching a traditionally difficult topic
  • Tech Tools: A teacher sharing how a particular tool is used effectively in their classroom.
  • Curriculum Strategies: A teacher shares experience with cross-curricular project-based learning, or experiences with spiraling own curriculum.
  • Lesson Feedback: A new or experienced teacher might share a video of a lesson in their class, and solicit feedback on their teaching.
Truly, the possibilities are unlimited. Everyone, new and experienced teachers alike, can find something to share.

A screencap from last night’s Global Math Department

What we need from you

  • You can create a free account on, and join in on the launch of the Global Chemistry Department.
  • Weigh in: What weeknight would you prefer to hold Global Chemistry Department? It will be held at 9-10pm EST/6-7pm PST.
  • What would you like to see at the Global Chemistry Department? Weigh in in the comments here, at BigMarker, or on twitter (#globalchem).
  • If YOU would like to present at Global Chem Department, contact –> me AT
We hope to launch the week of September 17th. I hope you’ll join us!



BCCE: Day 4 and 5 Recap

By | August 20, 2012

I got wrapped up in my excursion to WV, so I’m just getting around to posting about the final days of BCCE.

WV is BEAUTIFUL, by the way.

New River Gorge

Day 4 was a big inquiry day. Most of the talks I saw in the morning were a part of the Target Inquiry program out of Grand Valley State University. They’re teacher-created guided inquiry activities that cover almost all of a first year chemistry curriculum. Their materials are available for free to teachers. If you’re looking to move from cookbook to inquiry, the materials are a great place to start.

While none of the activities really jumped out at me, there was one nugget that I might be able to apply: using universal indicator with alka-seltzer reaction (or perhaps baking soda/vinegar) at different temperatures to compare CO2 solubility. Not sure where that will fit, but something I’ve never considered.

The afternoon symposia on Day 4 were mostly “ho hum.”

Day 5 was surprisingly quite interesting. A couple of the talks dealt with finding a balance between traditional and inquiry-based approaches in lab. Though presented for a college audience, I got some good ideas for modifying my Mg/Al/Zn-HCl lab. Also, a good framework for a possible dead-week practical:

Produce x pieces of experimental evidence that a piece of metal is not aluminum

Main take away from BCCE2012: Modeling Chemistry needs a strong presence at BCCE 2014 (and ChemED 2013)! While I stumbled upon a few modelers at this conference, there were no presentations about modeling chemistry. Even if you don’t do modeling chemistry, you should consider sharing some of your best practices at an NSTA, ChemED or BCCE conference.

ChemED 2013 is at University of Waterloo. I hope to see you there!

BCCE: Day 3 Recap

By | August 1, 2012

Tuesday was a good day at BCCE. Highlights:

  • I saw two talks on chemistry misconceptions. One dealt with oxidation-reduction reactions, and the issues some college students have using multiple representations to demonstrate their understanding of the reactions. Some issues seem very basic (such as representing an ionic solution at the particle level), while others were more significant (such as what the role of the spectator ion is, and what energy transfer actually means).  I’ll be keeping a very close eye on my seniors this year to see if any of these misconceptions exist during our redox units.
  • I really enjoyed the afternoon Food Chemistry symposium. While not at all immediately applicable to my classes, I’m more committed to finding a way to design a food chemistry elective at my school.
  • I had really a good cupcake at the picnic. REALLY good.
  • Ok, it was cupcakeS.
  • Had an amazing discussion with two teachers about curriculum until midnight.  THIS is the best thing about these conferences.

That’s all for now. Today is the last full day of symposia, so hopefully I’ll have some good highlights tomorrow.

My BCCE notes can be found here.