Outline – Solutions Unit

Course Outline – Solutions Module

This module is designed primarily as an online unit.  The students will have a start date and end date for the module.  We are often pushed to cover this content before the state end of course exam.  This is the same time of year when AP testing is taking place and I have students coming and going for a period of 10 days.  The key content will be covered online by the student.  We will have some class time where we review concepts and run a solutions lab.  The final evaluation will be given in class as we are still working on secure testing with Schoology.

Learning Objectives:

  • The student will be able to define the terms solution, unsaturated solution, saturated solution and supersaturated solution.
  • The student will be able to prepare and identify solutions of varying concentrations.
  • The student will be able to explain the dissolving process in terms of solutes and solvents.
  • The student will be able to interpret a solubility graph in terms of solution concentration and temperature.
  • The student will be able to define and calculate the molarity of a solution.
  • The student will be able to determine the amount of water needed to prepare a dilute solution of a given
  • The student will be able to identify the effect of particles dissolved in solution on the colligative properties of solutions
  • The student will investigate the role of colligative properties in everyday life
  1. Solutions Outline

Lesson 1:       A.  Video Introduction to Solutions (Brightstorm Videos)

  1. Types of Solutions (2 min)
  2. Solvation (5 min)
  3. Iowa State Animation of sodium chloride dissolving in water
  4. Online quiz on key terminology and the formation of solutions

Lesson 2:              A. Power Point :  What is Solubility and What Affects the Solubility of a Solute in a Solvent;  Solubility Graph – What is it and how is it read?

  1. Solubility practice graph quiz

Lesson 3:              Solution Concentration

  1. Part A:  Molarity
  2. a) Video Introduction (Brightstorm Videos)

– Molarity Concept (4 min)

– Sample Problem 1 (4 min)

– Sample Problem 2 (7 min)

b) Molarity Practice Problems

  1. c) Phet Interactive Simulation on Molarity

Lesson 4:        2. Part B:  Dilution

  1. a) Video Introduction (Brightstorm Videos)

– Dilution Concept (4 min)

– Problem 1 (3 min)

– Problem 2 (5 min)

– Problem 3 (5 min)

  1.  b) Dilution Practice Problems

Lesson 5:

A. Colligative Properties Video Introduction

  • Colligative Properties (2 min)- brief introduction (Brightstorm Video)
  •  Chemistry 9.10 Colligative Properties (Part 1 of 2)- IsaacsTeach                  (https://youtu.be/9i26eK6xyNI)  (8min 53 sec)
  1. Iowa State Colligative Properties Virtual Lab#1
  2. Question set on Colligative Properties in Everyday life

At the end of the module there will be a test on Solutions that will be given in class.


Differentiation in Online Learning

Throughout my teaching career I have been exposed to numerous sessions, classes and courses on differentiating instruction for students.  Whether learning online or face-to-face in the classroom differentiating instruction has several commonalities.  First of all, instruction involves the use of multiple means of engagement and instructional methods.  Teaching with podcasts that incorporate the audio with the visual, use of other types of graphics and visuals, hands-on learning and other methods of presenting content that address multiple learning preferences.   Secondly, customizing content to address individual needs. This may involve the method in which the content is delivered or the means by which the student demonstrates content mastery.  Thirdly, providing the student choice when personalizing content and assessment methods.

When differentiating instruction online there are features that have a much greater impact in virtual instruction than in the face-to-face environment.  Presenting content in its most readable form is important in the virtual world.  For instance, in my classroom I have a projector that enlarges graphics, notes, Power Point slides but online the image on the computer screen has many features that control the quality of the material being presented.  Contrast, screen brightness, moving graphics, etc., impact how we engage with the content being presented.  I find that I would much rather read an article in print than on the computer screen yet I don’t mind a novel on a Kindle, although I am constantly adjusting the screen brightness.  Additionally, their are many criteria and standards that guide us in the development of acceptable websites for equal access by all students.  Equal access in the classroom often occurs during the face-to-face teacher-student interaction.  For example, content can be read aloud as the student follows the written text.

After exploring the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) website and reading the “What Works in Online Learning” article, I decided to look for websites or articles on differentiating instruction in an online course.  I was hoping to find more content specific sites or sources.  I did come across an article entitled “Differentiated e-learning: What is it and five approaches.  (https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/CSD4903.pdf)   Both the website on UDL  and What Works in Online Education article opened my eyes to the fact that designing online courses and programs involved far more design standards than I had ever considered.   Secondly, in the article that I selected I discovered that differentiation via technology is very complex and requires lots of data mining and evaluation.  Thirdly, most online courses began differentiating instruction by offering lots of variety in order to address everyone’s needs.  As online learning expands more personalized learning has quietly slipped into online learning products (Hopkins, 2004).

In exploring the UDL and online learning I was left with a few questions.  Is it really possible to make all online learning equally accessible to all learners?  The section 508 standards for web design had me wondering whether school systems would be able to design online courses or have we made it so difficult that only professional, pre-packaged courses can meet the needs of all students.  My second question comes back to the idea of student control over the learning environment?  Can all learners choose wisely?  Do they have the maturity to make such decisions?  The jury is still out on this one.

As for the module that I am designing, the article reminded of several good practices when differentiating instruction.  Focus on breaking down complex components into smaller steps with specific instructions.  Create a learning sequence with specific goals that helps to guide students while providing choice.  I also need to think about the many means of expression and try not to limit their choices.  I always try to present content in many different ways and hope to focus more on adding graphic representations of the content to be learned .  So often in Chemistry you need to be able to visualize what is taking place as things happen on such a small scale.  Lastly, I always try to encourage discussion between and among students.  Hopefully the real-world application portion of the module with spark some debate and discussion.

Best Practices – L. Novak

As I read the articles on the best practices of the teachers in the Michigan Virtual School and Skills of Online Teachers I found myself nodding and agreeing as many traits on the list are the traits that all good face-to-face classroom teachers have as well.   Interpersonal skills  such as being there for your students, establishing a teaching presence, modeling formal communication, addressing inappropriate behavior, and forming a relationship with students are things that we all strive to do in the classroom environment.  Being a lifelong learner. who is willing to learn new technologies and stay abreast of changes in course content, is essential in today’s rapidly changing classroom.  When planning and implementing instruction all teachers have to consider the pacing of their course, determine methods for assessing student learning, use tools to monitor student progress and provide opportunities for communication between students.

As for differences between online and traditional face-to-face instruction,  online teachers would have to be more flexible with their time as much online learning is very asynchronous and students access courses all hours of the day.  Close monitoring of student progress and establishing a relationship with mentors at the student’s school are necessary in an online environment if the teacher is to develop a supportive student-teacher relationship.  In face-to-face situations you have the ability to read body language, talk with guidance counselors, observe student interaction, etc., that allow for a more personal connection with a student.

As for questions I do have a few.  We all hope to make instruction as engaging as possible.  In public education we are saddled with the obligation to cover state standards, prepare students for college and/ or the work world, and to arm our students with the necessary 21st century skills.  We can’t always plan instruction to align with student interests or individual learning styles.  We do our best to  differentiate instruction.  How can an online instructor design a course that addresses individual student interests when the student population can be quite varied with respect to educational background, ability, and self motivation?  Lastly, how do we handle content that traditionally has a hands-on component?  As a Chemistry teacher I want my students working in lab as that is the place where deeper learning takes place.  I am not a big fan of virtual learning activities as the simulated lab environment most often works seamlessly.  That is not the way in which traditional science labs flow.  Error takes place in lab for many reasons and explaining that error is important.  As the report stated, more research is needed with respect to teaching various curricula in an online course.

Current Status of Digital Learning

In the world of digital learning there are many different models for online learning as well as providers.  Schools, for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, public agencies and private academies offer a variety of online experiences.  The course content is usually coordinated and monitored by the school as schools have the primary responsibility for student learning.  Initially, online programs were designed for home-schooled students, those students with behavioral or medical issues, students who were not successful in the traditional school environment, etc.  Digital learning has shifted it’s focus during the last 15 years.  Students now participate in blended learning environments where online supplemental courses are taken while still attending school.  These supplemental courses range from credit recovery to advanced/AP/dual enrollment options.  The online courses allow for scheduling flexibility for the student.  Of the students enrolled in online learning, 84% are in public school.  State virtual  schools (SVS) offer no cost/minimal fee courses to school systems.  They employ dedicated staff and enroll students in courses.  SVS are one of the largest providers of online courses as 23 states have state virtual schools.  Of these 23 states, 5 states account for 79% of the SVS enrollment.  One issue at hand is tied to the concept of  state level control vs. local school district control.  The current trend favors more local control.  Much of the control issue revolves around policy discussion and the development of an accountability framework.  As with most issues in education, funding (money) greatly influences policy decisions. My feeling is that online education will not have a national framework any time soon as many states favor local control over educational policy decisions versus state or federal control.

After reading the report on the state of digital learning I found the iNACOL site to be a leap ahead into the future.   tenets-of-student-centered-learning-diagram

I perused the resources on blended learning, promising practices and competency education as I was curious as to the organization’s vision for the future with respect to online learning.  The various journals and webcasts discussed the need for learning to be student centered such that teachers are constantly assessing  what the student  is doing and where is the student headed.  After spending several weeks discussing transactional distance in online learning, this path towards student-centered learning seems as though it would decrease interaction between and among students.  Students in grades K-12 would need to take ownership of their learning as the learning becomes more personalized.  It seems to me that the teacher will become a data analyst in a number of the proposed models for online education.  I did not find any content specific resources that illustrated how these models would work with a high school science course.  I suppose that I need convincing that this would work for my content course.  Additionally, do we have the technology resources or funding necessary to support personalized instruction?  An instructor would have a difficult time keeping up with constant data analysis with a student caseload of 100-150 students.

From  the resource section I moved onto the “Getting Started with Personalized Lessons” blog, by Abel and Gentz, which lead me to “The Tenets of Student-Centered Learning” by Liz Glowa.   Both articles focused on the following: a) learning should be competency based to ensure mastery of material; b) learning should be able to take place anywhere at anytime; c) students will take ownership in terms of their learning; and d) learning is personalized in order to provide equity and “transformative learning experiences that will  prepare all students for a lifetime of success”.  These goals are very lofty but I’m not sure how practical they are at this time as many students do not have reliable internet access when they leave school.  We are far from having a nation where everyone has broadband access.  Secondly, a framework for measuring student competency has yet to be developed. Education will always be in a state of transition as technology progresses as does the world in which we live.  My biggest take away from all that I have read is that online learning has the greatest potential to create lifelong learners.

Community of Inquiry

Community of Inquiry

Let’s start with the article by Garrison, Anderson and Archer as that is where I began my exploration of CoI.   (I sure wish that I had started with the website.)  I felt as though the article was centered on validating the model rather than explaining it.  The data analysis was over the top.  When I found the survey used to evaluate the model online I felt as though I had hit the jackpot.  In looking at the above diagram, the only  part of the article that I truly found helpful, I see all of the elements of any good teaching model.  As Dewey believed “any worthwhile educational experience should be based on a process of reflective inquiry” and critical thinking.  This coupled with teaching presence is the basis for any traditional classroom.  So how do we create the classroom environment online?  It seems as though text-based communication online has allowed students to feel as though the are part of a community of learners.  Interpersonal relationships are built through open dialogue in a trusting environment.  This open dialogue would certainly help to reduce the transactional distance between learners.  Therefore, in developing an online curriculum or module a number of things need to be considered.

First of all, the goals and expectations for a module or course need to be made clear.  With the module that I want to develop I will need structure and synchronous dialogue in order to move my students into higher level thinking and inquiry as a group.  Secondly, the content needs to engage the learner.   Offering different pathways of exploration and choice allow for differentiation and greater engagement.  Interacting with one another in an online environment is essential to creating a sense of belonging.  Students can learn so much about one another and from one another when open dialogue exists.

My experiences with online courses has been quite varied.  Earlier courses were mostly focused on content being delivered and assignments being submitted for grading.  More recent courses have involved reading articles and watching videos where responses were submitted in a class forum and then we responded to one another.  At the same time we were developing lessons and activities that applied the content being presented.  The CoI framework is reflective of my more recent experiences with online education.


Nanomaterials and products: So what are they????

I am planning on developing a learning module focused on Nanoscience and the materials/products that are a result of a greater understanding of materials at the nanoscale.  I will be using Schoology as the learning platform.  Schoology allows me to past discussion threads, to build a media album, to add links, and due dates for parts of the module.  Having the technology located in one place is very helpful for me and I think that this will be the case for my students.  I do plan for this module to be taught as a hybrid course.

At the moment I am thinking that this module will run 2 1/2 to 3 weeks.  I am designing this for my Chemistry students (mostly 11th graders).  Nanoscience is evolving so quickly and most of my students are very unfamiliar with the topic, yet they use many products that are a direct result of nanoscience research and development.  I want them to emerge from the module with a better understanding of the science/chemistry at the nanoscale and the future of nanomaterials.  I have  wanted to end the year with a unit on applied chemistry so this is where I plan to start.