The Catalyst:

 
 
Students In Action
 
 
Students In Action
 
 
 
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
Class Forum

The Class Forum is a 2-5 minute portion of the Class Meeting (please see the "Meet and Greet/Class Meeting" strategy video) at the beginning of each week in which my students propose solutions to learning barriers that they have experienced or may see arising in class. This strategy ensures that my students' voices will be heard and empowers them to be change agents in shaping the class environment. While it is important to offer other avenues for individualized contact between myself and my students, having a space for a public discussion emphasizes the collaborative atmosphere that I want my students to work in every day. As a blended learning teacher, my practice is evolving from day to day and week to week. The Class Forum creates a safe and regular channel for my students to give me feedback about their needs and experiences. My commitment and responsiveness to my students' suggestions motivates them to be more invested in their learning and to our classroom community, which is critical to their success in my self-paced blended learning model.

 
Independent Student Learning
Bonus Materials

Sometimes students need a lesson or concept explained to them in a different way than has been done in the video I recorded. For this reason, I try to find other resources for students to use to get unstuck.

 
Collaborative Student Groups
Buddy Time

By its very nature, learning in a self-paced classroom with digital resources can be an isolating experience for some students. While I want my students to take personal responsibility for and ownership of their learning, I also want them to learn essential collaboration skills and to leverage social learning to grow as people and as students of Mathematics. Buddy Time is a grouping strategy that requires my students to collaborate with peers working on the same lesson at a prescribed point in each lesson. During Buddy Time, students can collaborate or discuss their work with other students at their tables and they can use their collective knowledge and skills to help each other move towards mastery. 

 
 
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