The Process Pt. II

I think I’m beginning to realize why I’m having so much trouble writing standards (even with some great suggestions from commentors!). When I first started, I grabbed the textbook for my lower-level chem class (Chemistry in the Community, aka Chem Comm… not a “traditional” chemistry book) and made a rough outline of topics that we cover within the 1st unit. After spending a few hours on that, I thought I was being too specific to one course and that I should try to make my standards more general so that I could apply them to the general (more traditional) chemistry class that I will also be teaching.

So I went to my state standards, which more directly parallel the traditional course outline (though they are still lacking). I started with them, and attempted to break them down into more student friendly “learning goals” (standards?) for each one. Whoof! Because they were awkwardly worded and incomplete, I found this to be even more difficult (which led to my first post of this process) than my original method.

After banging my head against the lab table for a while, I grabbed some of the documents I had created while in a grad class back in June that mapped out a traditional chemistry course (with learning objectives!), and we had come up with 9 topics that I chose to work from to develop the standards. After reading some tips over at the other Jason’s blog, I thought I was all set to start writing standards. But I soon realized (after, once again, some banging-of-the-head) it did not serve as an easy transition to use them as standards for Chem Comm.

Here’s what’s tricky:
The Chem Comm curriculum covers all of the same topics (but uses a different presentation method) that a “traditional” chemistry class does, so you would think the standards should overlap. What that means is the topics in Chem Comm are circular whereas a traditional method is more linear in how it progresses1. This is one of the things that I rather like about Chem Comm, but right now it sucks.

So where does that leave me? Back at square one – topic lists for each unit to come up with standards/learning goals for the year2. What will be tricky is differentiating the standard from one unit to the next; i.e. when a standard reappears later, I shouldn’t expect students to achieve mastery the first time around, right? So even if they only get to the 2.o level, when assigning grades I need to factor that in as “meeting” the standard for the time being. I think that will have to be a challenge that I tackle as it comes, there’s really no way around that.

On a lighter note: the easy part of this process was integrating the IB criteria with content standards – it’s just a matter of placing the content standards as sub-headings of the “Scientific Knowledge and Understanding” criterion. At least that’s one thing done! 🙂

1 Traditional Chemistry Units (roughly):
Properties of Matter, Atomic structure, Periodic trends/table, Bonding, Reactions, Stoichiometry, Solutions, Acids/Bases, Gases
Chem Comm Unit 1 ONLY:
Water explorations (solutions, properties, acids/bases, ionics, basic atomic structure, reactions)

2 This is more analogous to what Mylene had suggested on my last post about starting with assessments – I’ve been using the test review as a checkpoint, to make sure I’m covering everything and to make sure the assessment is where I want it to be. Thanks for the tip, Mylene!

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2 thoughts on “The Process Pt. II”

  1. I live to serve 😉 (Actually, I’ve learned/stolen so much from other bloggers in the last 8 months that I have a lot of paying-it-forward to do)

    I bet if you post examples of some of those slippery circular standards, somebody who teaches chemistry will come along with a suggestion.

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