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Sample Actvities

In-class activities don't have to be complicated to be effective.  I generally write activities that I believe most, but probably not all, will complete in one class period.  If I think some will finish really early, I add additional practice problems at the end of the activity.  Before writing or selecting an activity, I always think about the learning outcomes for that particular unit.  The contents of the activity are based on what students should be able to do when they are done.  I try to include a variety of question types in all activities and don't necessarily use the same format in all activities. 

To further increase student engagement in the classroom, I also opportunities for individuals to share answers with the class. I do this on a volunteer basis and usually offer a bonus point for being willing to come up to present since they have to use the document camera and the microphone.   They can check their answer with me before they present if they want and I always call for a round of applause from the class for them.  The students truly have to believe that if they are incorrect that there won't be *any* negative consequences from you or their peers so you need to handle any errors carefully.
  • Electron pair and molecular geometry (CHE 105)
    • This activity uses a pHet simulation (http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/molecule-shapes) which allows students to build molecules with different types and quantities of bonds and non-bonding pairs of electrons.  The 3-d drawing allows the students to rotate and manipulate the virtual model to see all of the bond angles and how the atoms are arranged.
  • Matter and Measurements (CHE 103)
    • For this activity, students had IF-AT (http://www.epsteineducation.com) cards to check their answers as they went along and their class participation grade was based on the number of points earned on the 10 questions.  
  • Solubility and Lipids (CHE 103)
    • This activity has a variety of question types including definitions, interpreting data, drawing structures, and writing explanations (in complete grammatically correct sentences).
  • Concentration Units (CHE 103)
    • For this activity, students watched a video introducing the different concentration units and seeing some worked examples.  Most students can recite definitions but using them in a problem is challenging so this activity gave them a variety of problems to practice in their group when they could easily discuss how to set up and solve the problems.

Future plans for in-class activities

  • Use them more often in CHE 105
  • Continue to update the current activities to make them more effective for student learning
  • Do an end of session survey of the activity listing the learning outcomes and asking students how well they could achieve those outcomes based on what they knew before vs what they could do after the activity. 
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