Modeling Acids and Bases Lab

As my paradigm lab for Acids and Bases in Chemistry 2 we do a very simple classifying lab.  My lab handout is here: Classifying Lab

Basically what this entails is that I give the students 7 substances.  HCl, H2SO4, HNO3, NaOH, KOH, Ba(OH)2, and H2O.  They know the formulas and proper names, but NOT acid names (i.e. Nitric Acid).  I have each group do some qualitative tests in well plates using various indicators and other chemicals.  They take observation data in the table provided.

After all test are complete the students are to group the 7 substances into as many or few categories as they need.  They just need to justify their groupings.  After a little staring at the data most lab groups are able to see the pattern that emerges.  They almost always create 3 groups.  One contains HCl, H2SO4, HNO3, One has NaOH, KOH, Ba(OH) and H2O is by itself.

During our whiteboard discussion each group explains their reasons for putting certain things together.  Sometimes they talk about only one indicator but most groups see the patterns emerge across all the tests.  After we have an agreed upon grouping system I then pose the question, “Now look at your groups what do each of the substances have in common within a group?”  Obviously you always get a variety of answers but the initial responses usually revolve around how one group has begins with Hydrogen and the other ends with Hydrogen.  I remind them about what is significant about the order compounds are written in, and also what is significant about the Conductivity test we did.  They realize we are dealing with ionic compounds, and the first ion is positive, while the second is negative.  They also see the Hydrogen “on the end” always comes with an Oxygen, and we have hydroxide.  Someone usually also realizes that water is really just HOH, thus a combination of both of these groups.

My class this year is quite bright and it didn’t take them long to verbalize these patterns.  Within only a couple of seconds of this “light bulb” going off one young lady exclaimed.  “Can we make this a Vin diagram!?”  “Why not?” I said, “that would be a great way to model this!”

How perfect!  Never a mention of the words Acid or Base, and we have Arrhenius’s Model!  Concept before name!

Naturally the next day I challenged them by testing NH3.

To which a young man exclaimed.  “Here we go again, we create a Model one day, and the next day we prove it wrong!”

I said, “Don’t shoot the messenger, that’s the way the world works.”

He then added, “in English they call it an exception to the rule, but in Science we create a new rule!  That is why science rocks!”

Holy cow, have I done my job here?  At least it made me feel good that I’m getting through to a few kids!


WIShare in the News!

Our local science teachers share group, WIShare (pronounced We Share) recently made the news in the Pierce County Herald!  (Not sure what the circulation of the Herald is, but it’s not much.)  So what, any publicity is good publicity right now.

Check out the article here:

Using The Red Bull Stratos Jump

It was almost impossible to not pay attention to the Red Bull Stratos Jump this last week.  Especially being a physics teacher.  I knew this was a big deal, and an exciting deal, even for high school students.

As information and analysis was flying all over the Blogs, Listserves, and Twitter I tried to figure out how can I use this?  My students are just finishing up the Constant Velocity Model, so their understanding at this point is limited.  Then I came across Peter Kupfer’s message on the Modeling Listserve.   The link is here:

I found that Peter used the speedometer shown in the video to create a velocity vs. time graph!  Sweet, thanks Peter!  The graph is below.  The way Peter used it was to calculate the jerk experienced during the time of increasing acceleration.  My students are no where near ready to do that yet, so I focused on the segment between 45 sec and 60 sec.

A link to the worksheet I created with this data is here:  Felix Space Jump CV Analysis

Basically what I did was created a “How Do You Apply the Model” problem as well as a “Goal-less” problem.  I wanted students to be able to draw other representations of his fall during the 15 seconds in which he was falling at constant velocity.  They were able to draw x vs. t graphs, and motion maps.  Some even wrote written descriptions and mathematical models!

As students were drawing these they noticed that the speed is in mph and the time axis is in seconds.  Only a few took it upon themselves to do the appropriate conversion to miles/second.  I ended up showing the class how that worked out on the front board, but once I did that they were able to solve for distance covered as well as correctly scale their graphs and motion maps.

Most students were amazed that he covered 3 miles in this 15 seconds.  “That’s ridiculous” was a common quote.

Overall I really loved how this current event fit so nicely in with the unit we are studying.  The fact we were able to analyze even a portion of the data with our limited skills was awesome.  I did get a lot of questions about other aspects of the entire fall and how to analyze those, including the “why did he travel at a constant velocity.”  It was a perfect time for me to explain that our current model is quite limited and we need to work on developing some new models.  WIN!  I do plan to pull this data out again as we get into forces and acceleration.  It should be fun.

Even through all this fun and excitement (for me) there are always a couple of students that do not appreciate the sweetness of this analysis.  One young man went so far as to jokingly say, “way to ruin the coolest thing I’ve seen in while.”  (At least I hope it was a joke).

Whiteboard Peer Review

I’m always looking for news ways to change up the whiteboard process I use (almost daily) in my class.  Whiteboarding is amazing, it gets and keeps everyone involved in the process of scientific thinking and problem solving.  However, early on each year I struggle with getting the students involved in the questioning and discussion process during WB presentations.

My theory is that it is an intimidation factor.  Students have a hard time adjusting to being able to questions their peers in front of a larger group of peers.  Usually in my Chemistry classes it is the first time students have been exposed to “low pressure”/”conversations starting” presentations such whiteboards.  Most have experienced the dreaded report presentation but that is it.

This year I tried something different to get the conversation started while my Chemistry students were whiteboarding the Modeling Chemistry worksheet on density.

I split the class into groups and gave each one problem to work on (students were to work on all of these problems individually before they came to class).  The problems on this WS consist of a mass vs. volume graph and several questions relating to that particular graph.  I gave the groups about 8-10 minutes to work on their problems.

As groups finished up working on their problems I rotated the boards themselves so that each group was looking at someone else work on a different problem than what they just did.  I gave them the following instructions:

  • Do NOT change any of the work on the board.
  • Write at least 1 relevant chemistry question about something that was on the board (Not why did you spell this wrong?)
  • Even if  you agree with everything on the board you need to write 1 question you would like to ask the group about why or how they did something.

I believe this process is similar to a “Whiteboard Museum,” but my classroom is not set up well for that at all, and I’ve never seen that done where students actually write questions right on the boards.

Here are a couple of examples of the boards I got.  (These aren’t the best ones I had all day, but I forgot to take pictures during my first couple of classes):

Overall I really liked the  way this whiteboard modification turned out.  There were a couple of benefits my students gained from this WB modification.

  • It gave everyone a sense of what I am looking for during the “questioning” phase of whiteboarding.  The whole idea of asking a question even if the answer is correct and they agree with the answer is foreign to them.  This forced their hand a little bit, to understand I’m more interested in the overall process of them “getting” a problem.
  • It allowed the shy students that have a lot of great questions and insights a chance to ask a question without asking in front of everyone else.
  • As groups presented the boards we were able to skip them explaining some of the WS problems they had been assigned.  Since all groups already looked over the boards and didn’t have an questions on a particular problem we saved that time.
  • As the groups presented they were able to focus their explanations based on the questions written on the board.  It gave them a sense of “direction” for their presentation.

I don’t think I will do this every time I whiteboard (especially not for labs), but when WBing a set of worksheet problems it seems as if it could be an effective way to change things up.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts and comments about this.  Have you done something similar?  What could I do better?  Different?  Please post below!

My Way to Make Measurement Make Sense

To me measurement is one of those topics that doesn’t seem like is should be a challenge.  BUT every year and every teacher I talk to finds that measurement is a HUGE PROBLEM with students.  I’ll let you form your own theories as to why this is the case.  This post is to describe the process I use to “reteach” students how to measure correctly, with the emphasis being on using a system of 10 divisions.

Nerd Rulers

I personally treat this activity as a lab, but it can be done any number of ways.  Here is the handout I use: How Many Nerds Lab.  The lab begins with me giving each student a ruler that looks like this:
They are asked, what do you notice about this ruler?  Things such as “no markings,” “a 0 and a 10,” “10 inches,” and many other things come up.  First thing I tell them is that this is NOT 10 inches or any other unit of measurement they have ever used.  So I have given the units a name: NERDS!  I tell them that since I’m kind of nerdy I wanted a unit of my own.

In reality the credit for this name and the rulers goes to Mr. Ryan Peterson of Brillion High School.  Any unit name you see fit can work.

From there I ask: “What is this ruler good for.”  The usual response is “not much.”  I usually have to hold something up and say “really, you can’t tell me anything about the length of this object?”  Someone usually realizes they can tell the object it either shorter or longer than 10 nerds.  “Ok, so what should I do to report the length of the object?”  “Guess” seems to be a popular response, but I quickly say guessing is random, like how many Jelly Beans are in a Jar.  Someone will finally say “Estimate.”

“Ok, now go and measure 8 things around the room.  Try to get at least 2 or 3 things that are longer than 10 nerds.”

I give them about 5 minutes to make their 8 measurements.  Then I hand out this ruler:
After a very brief discussion revolving around the fact that this ruler has the whole numbers marked, and that in science WE DO NOT USE FRACTIONS, I send students to remeasure the same 8 objects.

Finally comes the gold ruler:

They are off to remeasure the same 8 objects they have already measured.

Before I explain my discussion, here is how these rulers were created.  Again credit for the original Excel file goes to Ryan Peterson.

Nerds Rulers.  This Excel file contains 3 tabs, each containing 6 rulers on each tab.  Print from each tab.  I then copied enough sheets to make a class set of ruler on colored paper.  Finally I sent the pages through the laminater and cut out each ruler.  The set I made 5 years ago is still going strong.  The only real issue I’ve had is kids fold the blue ruler in half.

Back to the lab.

Once all measurements are made the students see a pattern of increased precision with each ruler (they don’t call it precision, but that’s what it is).  We quickly discuss things such as which ruler is best for measuring different objects, what makes a measurement “correct,” and how to handle measurements that we right on a marking.  The next thing is to have small groups discuss and whiteboard a rule or rules for using a ruler.

I give groups about 10 minutes to discuss some things and come up with what they think we should consider as “rules.”  Most groups come up with things like:

  • Start at zero
  • Measure the same object
  • Measure twice

I tell them that those are good and true and all, but how do make sure we are using a ruler correctly?  I sometimes have to give them the hint about what they did with the 3 different color rulers.  Most of the time that helps them realize that they ESTIMATED something in the answer.  Ultimately, after all groups have shared their rules I want the class to agree that we should:


This usually makes sense to the class, and they agree this the #1 rule.  PERFECT!

I extend the discussion with what that estimated number means.  I show them how the number they estimated is really reporting a range of numbers.  So for example a measurement of 3 is likes saying somewhere between 2 and 4.  A measurement of 3.6 is the range of 3.5 to 3.7.  Reporting 3.65 is something like 3.64 to 3.66 (this range might be a bit larger depending on the ruler).  Something I don’t stress at this point.

Metric Rulers

The next step is to introduce our more typical units of measurement: METERS!  Students know it is coming but they grumble and complain, and raise a fit over why we can’t just do it the “easy” way (inches, feet, etc.)  I then proceed to ask them something like; “so what increment comes after 7/32?”  Someone says 8/32.  “Ok, but I’m not going to find a wrench marked that.”   4/16, 2/8. oh 1/4.  “Congrats that just took you 1 minute to figure out.”  “What wrench comes after 7 mm?”  8mm.  “1 second, nice job, now which way is easier?”  I will then of course have the discussion about english vs. metric.

I usually like to get on my soapbox a little bit and complain about how “the US is the greatest country in the world, and by gosh we aren’t going to change our ways for anybody.”  I play that angle up a little bit, and we get to the point that metric is easier to work with, just not as common for us in America, but they hopefully see the point.

I now show the class a dowel that is marked as 1 meter long, but that is it.  Kind of like the blue ruler from above.  I then discuss and demonstrate how you can split a meter into 10 equal sections called decimeters, show them a ruler with only dm marks.  Each decimeter into 10 centimeters, show a cm ruler, and finally centimeters into 10 millimeters, show a typical meter stick with mm markings.

My lab hand out is here:  How Many Meters

Basically, I have a set of different metric rulers, and whatever the smallest markings are on the ruler is the “type” of ruler it is.  So a standard metric ruler is a mm ruler even though the numbers are cm.  This is just another complication in the process we have to deal with.  I have each student measure the same stuff with the same type of ruler so that we can compare results.

This is all for practice, and the whiteboard discussion is pretty minimal.  I usually focus on the different prefixes used in the SI system.  Why it is called SI and why it is important we have a standard unit of measurement for scientists.

Uncertainty of Measurement Activity

The questions I usually get about all this emphasis on measuring is “Why is this important?”  To me this activity nails it and relates why estimating measurements is so important as well as demonstrating exactly why significant figures work the way they do.

Uncertainty in Measurement

I distribute a index card and blue ruler to each student.   (something smaller than 10 nerds is a must, otherwise the uncertainty becomes too great.)  Each student measure the length and width of the card.  They then calculate the area, and I instruct them to write down exactly what the calculator says.

They remeasure with the pink ruler and again calculate and record area exactly as is displayed.  Finally they measure a third time with the gold ruler.

After all measurements and calculations are made I have each student list their calculated areas on the board.  One column for each ruler.  I forgot to take a picture of the entire set of class data, but it was something like this:

Notice how sweet this data is!  The discussion revolves around where the uncertainty in each calculation shows up.  For the Blue ruler it is in the tens place.  The Pink ruler the ones place, and the Gold ruler is in the tenths place.  Coincidence?!  I don’t think so.

Because of our “rule for using a ruler” the significant figure in each measurement comes out to be where our uncertainty shows up in our calculations!  Amazing!

Bottom line is the blue ruler gives us calculations that are uncertain plus or minus 10, thus we can only report an answer that is rounded in the tens place, which just so happens to coincide with 1 sig fig!

The pink ruler is uncertain plus or minus 1, thus rounded to the 1s place; 2 sig figs!

The gold ruler is uncertain plus or minus 0.1, thus rounded to the tenths place; 3 sig figs!

I think it is really cool how nicely the data comes out for students to “see” significant figures really work out.  In all actuality I not huge on make significant figures a huge issue as the year goes on, but I tell students, you better never ask me: “Where do I round?”  That is one of the biggest pet peeves I have and when the do I’m going to tell them to look at sig figs.

WOW!  That is a lot of information in one post.  Please use it for your benefit, and as always, if you have any questions or comments please leave them below.


My SBG Story

My journey towards Standards Based Grading started about a year ago (Fall 2011).  It just so happens that is when I discovered the Physics Education Blog world.  As I have stated in previous posts I give a lot of credit to Frank Noschese and Kelly O’Shea for many things I’ve picked up in the last year.  In terms of SBG I give these two ALL the credit!  I started reading their blog posts and ideas about what SBG is, how it works, and most importantly how to implement it.

2011-12 School Year
By about November last year I was convinced.  This is the way I needed to go.  The problem was of course changing “in-year.”  However, I am lucky because I just so happen to teach a Physics 2 class which is only 2nd semester.  My roster for this class was entirely seniors.  So I decided to experiment.  I presented the grading system to my 13 students as just that, and experiment.  My principal supported my idea without needing much convincing.  He just warned that I had a well documented plan to have on file.  Their wasn’t really any initial backlash from students or parents, so I considered that a victory.

I did run into some initial struggles, but nothing too major.  Our school has really pushed student and parent involvement through monitoring grades online,  so when I didn’t have a good way for that to happen I had some issues.  I ended up printing paper copies for each student ever couple of weeks.  I used ActiveGrade from the beginning to monitor and track students progress for myself, but I never explored it enough to figure out all the details (like how to allow students to login).  This is something that I have since resolved.

The other problem I had was creating well worded and good standards for units on Light and Waves.  I found plenty of good examples for mechanics, but not these.  I ended up relying mostly on the “Unit Goals” from the Modeling curriculum.  I did this in-semester rather than planning ahead, and that proved to be a challenge.  This will be much better this year, as I have my goals written going in.

Overall, my 13 seniors liked the idea of NO HOMEWORK and a weekly quiz for me to see where they were at.  They realized the quizzes were low pressure, but still worked to do well and get mastery scores.  I didn’t do official “reassessment requests” each week, but a couple of time during the semester I gave the class larger assessments, where all the problems were optional.  Students opted to complete only the questions that were relevant to the goals they hadn’t mastered yet.  I also did a reassessment assignment that included students video taping themselves working through a problem.  Only a few took me up on this offer, but those that did did a nice job of explaining what they knew.  I was able to tell if the truly “get it” or exactly where their conceptual breakdown occurred.

By the end of the semester students saw my grading system in a positive light, and I never had to defend it once to an enraged parent!

2012-13 School Year
This fall I have expanded my use of SBG to my Physics 1 class.  This class is a year long and consists entirely of Modeling Mechanics.  A lot of work has been done by other already to establish a system and standards for the Modeling Mechanics material, so naturally I relied heavily on that.  Below I have links to my Student/Parent Handout as well as my Goals for each mechanics unit.

If all goes well this school year I am planning to make the total change over to SBG next year, expanding to Chemistry as well.  I plan to continue to post idea, questions, and thoughts as they come up this year.

Learning Goals Based Grading

Physics 1 Learning Goals

2013-14 School Year 
I have again expanded my use of SBG to my Chemistry 1 classes in addition to Physics 1 and 2.  I’m really excited about using SBG in chemistry this year as well.  I saw how much it helped and focused my physics students last year, so to see that extend to chemistry will be good. 

The one big change I’ve made in my system is that I’m going to a 3 point scale for feedback purposes as opposed to using a 2 point scale.  The scale is defined as:

3 (Green) = Mastery has been demonstrated

2 (Yellow) = Developing Mastery – This indicates you are missing a minor piece of conceptual understanding, and/or that you have made a minor error in your reasoning process.

1 (Red) = Minimal Mastery – This indicated you are missing a major piece of conceptual understanding and/or you have made a major error in your reasoning process.

0 (Black) = No Data/Attempt

I’m going to use the colors on students quizzes and other assessments to try to get away from the “points-system” altogether.  The point values will simply be for ease in entering scores into ActiveGrade.  Although the scale changes students will still need to reach the “green” level for me to count the goal as mastered.  The yellow and red levels will better help me provide feedback for my students.  Giving them a more quantitative measurement of if they are close or far away from mastering the goal.  Last year I used the Yes/No scale and No was everything from minor mistakes or thinking to complete lack of understanding.  I wanted a better way to help students know exactly where they stand.  We’ll see how it goes.

I’m also attaching my revised document explaining Learning Goals Based Grading to my students and parents, and my Goals for Chemistry 1.

Chemisrty I Learning Goals

Learning Goals Based Grading – Explained

Chemistry Safety Posters

To deal with the boredom of Chemistry safety rules I allow my students some time to be creative and artistic with them.

The other day I presented my classes with my safety expectations.  Because of PBIS being an initiative in my school we were asked to fit our rules into an matrix that includes; Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe…it’s the Blackhawk Way.  So I did.  It took me a little time to alter the wording of some the rules, but in the end it wasn’t actually that bad to fit into Respectful, Responsible, and Safe.  Here is my safety document:

Safety in the Chem Lab

The assignment I give students is to take a rule (or two or three) and create a Poster that depicts that particular rule.  I do allow students to work together as a group, but however many people they choose in their group is the number of rules they need to show on their poster.  I allow each group/person to choose whatever rule they want, so I do get some that are doubled up, but I’m okay with that.  I don’t like assigning rules to each person, because some of them are pretty tough to create a poster with.

After each group presents their posters we hang them around the room to serve as a reminder for the remainder of the year.  Here is a couple examples of what was hung around my room today:

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Physics Week 1 – Circles Lab

Last week was our first week with students for the school year.  For the first time (I think ever) I’m actually quite pleased with how my classes went.  This post will outline my week in Physics I class.

Physics I is class that consists of Juniors and Seniors.  All have taken Science 9 (mostly physical, but other as well) and 10th grade biology, some were in Chemistry last year but not all.  Mathematically the range is from Algebra 2 to Trigonometry to Pre-Calculus.

This year I’m trying Unit packets (i.e. Kelly O’Shea), so on Day 1 I handed out my Unit 0 Packet.  More on Unit 0 later.  Using a packet will free students from individual Lab Notebooks and hopefully guide them to focus on lab content rather than organization.  The strategy allowed me to by pass all the Lab Notebook setup stuff I’ve done in the past.  So I was able to just get started.

I began with a circle drawn on the board.  My first question was, “How could you describe this shape, WITHOUT using the word circle.”  Things such as ’round,’ ‘curved,’ ‘360 degrees,’ ‘all points equidistant from the center,’ were stated.  Good enough.

Since I introduced this lab as and exercise in measuring I next ask the students what could we measure about the circle.  The usual things were brought up: radius, diameter, circumference, area, and maybe something else.  Next I said we needed to narrow our list down to the two easiest things to measure.  We agreed upon circumference and diameter.  I have a classroom set of 10 meter tape measures, so from there I let them go.

I made sure to emphasize that this lab was a MEASUREMENT lab, because a few students always try to get away with calculating circumference.  One thing I did not mention was whether to measure in inches or centimeters.  I got about a half and half return.  I set students free to find circles around the school building, with the goal of measuring between 10 and 12.  This takes about 30 minutes.

The next day the students returned to class with all of their measurements.  From there it is time to graph.  In the past I’ve gone directly to LoggerPro, but this year I decided it was important to at least draw a couple of graphs by hand.  I gave them the following guidelines:

One your Graphs be sure to:

  • Use Pencil
  • Label your axes with symbols and units
  • Give the graph a title (“[vertical axis variable] vs. [horizontal axis variable]”)
  • If the data is linear, draw a Linear Fit line (don’t connect the dots)
  • Find the slope of the line using points on the line (not data points)
  • Write the equation of the line (EOL) using the variables from your axes (not “x” and “y”); make sure the slope and intercept have the correct units attached to the numbers.
  • Put units on numbers, but never on variables

I did NOT tell them which axis which variable need to be on.  I again got about a half and half return, which is good for the whtieboard discussion.  I did have to do some “teacher talk” regarding the Linear Fit line and the EOL.  Since these are things that we will be doing ALL THE TIME I feel it was important to spend a few extra minutes to introduce common terminology and expectations.  Hopefully it makes my life easier in the future.

Once graphs are drawn by hand on paper each group transfers their graph to a whiteboard.  It doesn’t need to be a perfect graph, but something that shows approximate locations of data points, and most importantly the Linear Fit line and the EOL.

The final piece to the puzzle is the whiteboard discussion.  We take our time presenting and discussing things such as methods of measurement, variety of sizes measured, why they decided to put C and D on the axis they did, how they calculated slope, etc.  We then compared all groups graphs to each other.

The first thing that was noticed by the students was that graphs that were C vs. D were different than D vs. C.  GOOD!  Then they realized that the graphs that were done the same all had slopes that were very close to each other.

Me: INTERESTING, why would that be?
Students:  Because we all measured circles.
M: Oh, ok, so what does this slope  mean then (looking at the C vs. D graph)?
S:  Well they are all around 3.
M: Exactly 3?
S:  No, just a bit more.
M: Interesting
S: Pi
M: Who had pie?  I like pie.
S: No the slope is pi.
M: Cool, what about this one?  (D vs. C graph)
S: Inverse of pi
M: What does that mean?
S: 1 over pi
M: Why?
S: The variables are graphed on the opposite axes.

Ok, you get the idea, but more importantly SO DID MY STUDENTS!

Based on all of this discussion we are now able to write and mathematical model for circles.  From the C vs. D graph we get C = πD.  From the D vs. C graph we obtain D = (1/π)C.  Someone usually notices that these models are one in the same.  This is awesome, because most students realize they have seen these equations before in some form or another, but never had the experience of knowing where they come from.  Thus I give them one of my favorite sayings: “Equations come from experiments NOT textbooks!”

The very last thing I added this year was a quality addition.  I took time the next day to do a summary of  how models were used in this lab.  On the whiteboard I created a summary that looks like this:

The final thing I wanted to do was come up with a definition for the term Model.  With a little guidance both of my classes agreed on the fact that a MODEL IS A REPRESENTATION.  I can now refer to this simple definition anytime students wonder what the heck I’m talking about when I call and equation a model.  It simply represents the situation in a mathematical form.

I absolutely love the way this lab introduces my students to just about everything we are going to do in physics this year.  Defiantly worth the 3+ days to complete.

WOW!  How can something as simple as measuring circles turn into this ridiculously long post?

My Modeling Story

When I finished my undergraduate studies in 2004 I had no knowledge of Modeling instruction.  I began teaching my science classes in an interactive, but very traditional way.  It didn’t take me long to realize there must be a better way.  As with most of us, I consider year one as a mulligan, I survived, and that is about it.  During that time I was employed at Brillion High School in East Central Wisconsin.  My assignment was mainly Freshmen Physical Science.  During that first year, a colleague of mine, Ryan Peterson, invited me to the local Physics/Physical Science share group meeting where I meet Scott Hertting, Dale Basler, Greg Franzen, Jeff Elmer, and many others who were talking about this Modeling thing.

My interest was sparked!  Those guys had so many awesome ideas and seemed so passionate about the way they taught, it was contagious.  I continued to struggle through year one, and finally it was over.  The next school year I was given the responsibility to teach physics along with physical science.  Scott Hertting was gracious enough to meet with before  school started that year and shared almost all of his materials with me, and explained even more about Modeling.  After blindly learning as I went I could see the effectiveness of Modeling, despite my own short comings.

It was in the spring of 2007 when I received my first formal Modeling training when I took a class at UW-Oshkosh with professor Mark Lattery.  One summer later (2008) UW-Oshkosh began its MSE C&I program in physics.  For the next three summers I studied the “ins and outs” of the Modeling Method from some of the best teachers around.  Included in the Masters program was an Action Research project.  Two other teachers and I studied the effects of “Grading Discussions in a Modeling Physics Classroom.”  In 2010 I earned my Masters of C&I in Physics.

During the summer of 2008, in between my Masters studies, my career took me to a new school with a new teaching assignment.  Bloomer High School hired me as their new Chemistry and Physics teacher.  It was at that time when I began to explore the Modeling Chemistry curriculum, and have never looked back since.  My current class schedule consists of Chemistry I and II, and Physics I and II.  All 4 classes I have designed to use Modeling Instruction.

Future posts will describe each of my classes and how Modeling fits into each.

Welcome to iModel iBlog

My name is Brad Wysocki and I’m a high school Chemistry and Physics teacher at Bloomer High School in Northwest Wisconsin.  This school year is my 9th overall teaching  and 5th in Bloomer.  The students I work with everyday are the reason I continue to do what I do.  I enjoy getting to know my students on a personally level, challenging them, and seeing them succeed in my classroom.  I’m always looking for new and innovative ways to help my students learn and understand science better.

Outside of school my time is spent mostly with my family, my wife of 7 years, and two boys (ages 3 and 5).  I also enjoy all sorts or athletics,  especially baseball, golf, and football.  But all of that is not what this blog is about.

During in-service before school I decided I would make the jump into the blog world.  Thanks to the influence of science teaching bloggers such as Frank Noschese (Action-Reaction and Noschese 180), Kelly O’Shea (Physics! Blog!), Rhett Allain (Dot Physics), and Ms. Bethea (TEACHING Chemistry) I’m going to give it a try myself.  I’ve benefited greatly by reading all of the above blogs plus many others.  Each has influenced my own teaching practices in many ways such as activities I use, how I model, and even how I grade.  So if any of you find your way to this blog I must say THANK YOU!

I plan to use this blog to share thoughts, ideas, strategies, and pose questions about physics and chemistry Modeling Instruction as well as my newest experiment, Standards Based Grading.  Ideally I make a post at least once a week, but you never know if it will happen more or less, we’ll see.

Thanks for visiting.  Please feel free to leave a comment about