Instructional Openings

The Catalyst

Chemistry is a combination of the comprehension of scientific content and the application of mathematics to those concepts. My students have to be prepared to think deeply about difficult concepts the minute they step into my room. Starting the class with a relevant "Catalyst" helps them initiate their own thinking processes in preparation for a productive day in the same way that biological enzymes catalyze chemical reactions. During The Catalyst, I model my thinking process for how to approach a mathematical problem by having my students identify the key steps in the calculation and establish a foundation that students who struggle with math can fall back on when they're confused.  

Strategy Resources (3)
Students In Action
 
 
Student Handout
 
 
This Daily Work Organizer for Wednesday classes has a space carved out for the Daily Catalyst, as well a spot for my students to analyze the current state of their weekly goals. After writing down the daily learning objectives and assessing the three clues for the mystery element of the day, my students will complete a Catalyst question that will get them thinking in a mindset conducive to high-level chemistry learning. Organizing their thoughts and planning the day ahead ensures that my students have a safe place to visit when they lose focus during the chaos of normal class.
Presentation
 
 
When my students know that the problems they are solving will help them comprehend the material they are dealing with in the lesson, they are more comfortable putting forth their best effort. This Google Slides lesson asks my students to solve problems around the concepts of temperature and pressure and then asks them to extrapolate their answers to a new scenario in an attempt to get them excited about the lesson.
Students In Action
 
 
Student Handout
 
 
This Daily Work Organizer for Wednesday classes has a space carved out for the Daily Catalyst, as well a spot for my students to analyze the current state of their weekly goals. After writing down the daily learning objectives and assessing the three clues for the mystery element of the day, my students will complete a Catalyst question that will get them thinking in a mindset conducive to high-level chemistry learning. Organizing their thoughts and planning the day ahead ensures that my students have a safe place to visit when they lose focus during the chaos of normal class.
Presentation
 
 
When my students know that the problems they are solving will help them comprehend the material they are dealing with in the lesson, they are more comfortable putting forth their best effort. This Google Slides lesson asks my students to solve problems around the concepts of temperature and pressure and then asks them to extrapolate their answers to a new scenario in an attempt to get them excited about the lesson.
Jeff Astor
Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy High School
Los Angeles, CA


 

About this strategy

Prep Time:
Long
Subject:
Science
Grade:
Tenth grade
Similar Strategies
Feedback Systems
Progress Check-Ins

I have weekly check-in's with students about how they are progressing through the lessons. This ensure face-to-face time with each student and allows me to hold them accountable to the goals they are setting. I ask a standard set of questions "What lesson are you on today?", "What lesson do you plan on being on in a week" ,"Is there anything you need to help you reach your goal?" I record all their answers and keep a running log so I can refer back to these notes each time I conference with a student.

 
Instructional Openings
Demo Discussion

The Demo Discussion is a strategy I use to provide an interesting and memorable in-class demonstration of complex concepts that my students will learn about in class on a given day, using a variety of digital resources. The Demo Discussion is an excellent way to promote student curiosity about scientific phenomena. The "demos" provide access points for my students to witness and wonder about complicated chemical processes that they will eventually explore and understand at a much deeper level. By leveraging additional physical and digital tools, I can facilitate in-depth analysis and support the development of models to explain the science behind the demo. This strategy also allows me to surface my students' questions and interests about the day's Learning Targets (please see the "Learning Targets" strategy video), to which I can refer and make connections throughout our exploration of that content.

 
Instructional Closings
Closing Time

Science can be messy and my students are often in such a rush to take care of the priorities for the next class that they forget to clean up their work and physical area appropriately. Closing Time reminds my students of their obligations for the end of a class period and standardizes a system that promotes personal responsibility for all class materials. During this time, I list all of the upcoming class assignments and events on the board, so that my students can begin thinking about future activities when they've finished cleaning up and closing down. Coupling this strategy with a tool like Remind 101 keeps my students aware of what is expected of them outside of class time.

 
 
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