4-D-1 Wikis in Your Classroom

My post is about a wiki project that inspired me!

Throughout the last module I’ve done a lot of thinking about wikis, and how I could incorporate them into my classroom. As a result of researching (the textbook, and internet sources for our Group Wiki, which was on Wikipedia), I came up with a wiki project that would greatly benefit both my students and myself.

Everyday I am met by students who were absent from school the day(s) before and want to know what they have missed. Sometimes these students are absent one day, other times they are absent three days, and sometimes they are absent longer and the days they are out may be consecutive or absent. As the teacher, it is difficult to remember a specific day’s events (on the spot), especially when the day in question happens to be a few days away.

So, I thought a great wiki project for students would be to complete “scribe notes” where one student posts the events of each day onto a class wiki. Generally there are about 180 school days, and each year I have about 90 students in a particular class. That allows each student to complete two “scribe notes”. I think I will make each scribe note 50 points, so that two of them (100 points) would be close to the value of a test.

The end result will be a student created wiki that contains a compilation of the work and schedule for every day of class! When students are absent from class (no matter if they are absent a single day or a week), they can check the scribe notes for the events of each day.  This will save me a lot of sanity!

Here is what I would expect an example of the scribe notes might look like.


Name: Tiffany Springsted

Date: Monday, May 2nd

Today’s General Topic: Boyle’s Law


Assignments That Were Turned In At the Beginning of Class

  • “Behavior of Gases Worksheet” (this can be found on the Portal under “Behavior of Gases” section)

 Today’s Agenda

  • Turned in yesterday’s homework (see above)
  • Took the “Pressure Conversions Quiz” that was worth 15 points
  • Learned about “Boyle’s Law of Gases” (resources for this lesson can be found on the Portal, titled “Boyle’s Law of Gases)
  • Started homework, which was a worksheet titled “Boyle’s Law Worksheet”

 Summary of Today’s Lesson

  • Boyle’s Law is the first of five gas laws that were are going to study
  • Boyle’s Law deals with the relationship between the volume of a gas and its pressure
  • Volume is the amount of space a gas occupies
  • Pressure is defined as the force per unit area. In terms of gases, we talked about pressure being correlated with the number of times gas particles hit the sides of the container they are in (more collisions = higher pressure)
  • Boyle’s Law states that there is an inverse relationship between the volume of a gas and its pressure, when all other variables are held constant
  • If the volume of a container or piston is decreased, the pressure of the gas            will increase, because there will be more particle collisions
  • If the volume of a container or piston is increased, the pressure of the gas                         will decrease because there will be fewer particle collision
  • The formula for Boyle’s Law (used to calculated changes in pressure or volume) is P1V1 = P2V2

 Ticket to Exit With Explanation

  • The original volume of a piston is 4 liters and the original pressure of the gas is 100 kPa. What will the pressure be when the volume of the piston is decreased to 1 liter?


Bolye’s Law is a literal mathematical inverse. So if the volume is cut down by a quarter (1/4 of its original value, because 4 x ¼ = 1), the pressure will do the opposite of this function. The pressure will increase by 4 times (4/1) of its original value. The final pressure will be 4 x 100 kPa = 400 kPa.



P1V1 = P2V2

(4 L)(100 kPa) = (1 L)P2

P2 = 400 kPa


 Today’s Homework

“Boyle’s Law Worksheet” (you can find this on the Portal)





3-D-2 ~ Option B: Using Social Bookmarking as a Professional Development Tool

There are two main ways that I can see social bookmarking benefiting me as a professional development tool. The first way is by organizing all of my websites into organized categories or folders. The second way that social bookmarking can benefit me is by allowing me to communicate with other teachers, to get new ideas (and share my own with them) to try within my own classroom.

While I am normally and very structured and organized person, I have to admit that until I discovered social bookmarking, my favorite websites used to be saved in a single gigantic list that had absolutely no order or structure to it. Using a site like Diigo to organize my bookmarks allows me to categorize my favorite websites into folders so I know where to find a particular resource. This summer, I plan to organize these sites into a couple different categories, some of which include: my personal websites, technology education websites, the three levels of chemistry that I teach (CP Chem, Physical Science, 12th grade Chem), curriculum information (Learning Focused Schools, Student Learning Objectives), etc.   I also really like social bookmarking because I can use “tags” and the “highlight feature” to help me find what I am looking for. This will save lots of time to help me remember why I bookmarked a particular page in the first place.

Another way that I plan to use social bookmarking is to communicate with other teachers regarding new ideas to try in my own classroom. I have recently been asked to consider converting my 12th grade (second-year) chemistry class into AP Chemistry. I think this is a good idea, but I need some online resources to get me started, because I am the only chemistry teacher within my school district, and the neighboring districts are about 30 minutes away and neither one of them currently teach AP Chemistry. I have already started my plan using Diigo, which is to sign up to join other AP Chemistry groups. I have created and AP Chemistry folder, and as I have started to make acquaintances and find helpful resources, I am “tagging” and “highlighting” them before I bookmark them. I’ve already (in just two days) found about 20 useful resources as a result of joining other AP Chemistry groups! In the future, I hope to continue to build more resources for my AP Chemistry course, and the other courses I teach (and my own personal interests and hobbies!).

3-B-2 Benefits of RSS in Education

Ways that RSS Will Benefit Me

There are a couple of ways that RSS can benefit me as a teacher.   The biggest way that RSS can benefit me as a teacher is by allowing me to communicate with other colleagues and teachers in order to share ideas regarding pedagogy and/or science experiments. One specific way that RSS can be used to accomplish this is by subscribing to other teacher’s blogs, and being sent an alert when new information is posted. Another specific way to collaborate with colleagues using RSS is by sharing links through social bookmarking sites. I have used Delicious in the past, and I know this site has a “share bookmarks feature” that allows you to send/receive links from other people.

Another way that RSS would benefit me is by updating me on the latest job availability searches. Although I am very happy with my current location at the moment, my husband and I have talked about moving to southern Pennsylvania in a few years. It would be miserable if I had to search thirty school websites on a regular basis to see if there are any job openings for a chemistry teacher. Using RSS to do this for me (have the most recent chemistry job openings sent to me) would greatly decrease the time involved in this process.

Ways that RSS Will Benefit My Students

One way that RSS will benefit my students within the classroom is by keeping them up to date on current events regarding the field of chemistry. Every quarter, I have my students write about a current event in chemistry. Using RSS, students can be updated on the only newest events in chemistry (instead of all – old and new- events); and there are a lot of them that pertain to chemistry right now. Some of these events within chemistry that are currently in the news include: discovering the Higgs-Boson particle (“the God particle”), discovering new elements on the periodic table (Element 117 was just discovered a few weeks ago), reaching absolute zero, creating plasma, creating anti-matter, etc.

Another way that RSS could benefit students is by updating them with new information within the classroom and the school community. Students could be updated with information regarding grade postings (e.g., “You Chapter 1 test has been graded.”), or just be sent a reminder message (e.g., “Remember to bring your signed permission slip for our field trip.”). Within the school community, RSS could be used to update everyone on the “ever changing schedules of public education”.   My classroom’s academic schedule is based upon the school’s schedule and the sports schedule, which seem to constantly change as new situations arise. It would awesome to have a template schedule, but then be updated through RSS, when that template schedule is changed! I need to figure out how to do this!!!

2-D-1 Comment Post on Student Blog Regarding How to Be Successful in Chemistry

I posted a comment to Jeremy’s blog (where I included the link to my blog).

The link to Jeremy’s sites that includes my comment is below (my comment is the last one at the bottom of his page).  I will also also include a copy of the comment I posted below, in case my comment is difficult to find on his page.

Link to Comment on Jeremy’s Page


Copy of the Comment I Left on Jeremy’s Page

Tiffany Springsted

Hi Jeremy,
I am a high school chemistry teacher, and each year I see kids fall into the trap of what I call the “snow ball effect”. It is essential to have a plan in place when you decide to take chemistry. Some of the ideas you mentioned (and those that other mentioned that are found within your professor’s compilation) are excellent ways to be successful in chemistry.

On my own blog, I have created post about how high school students can be successful within my course. The link to my blog is below.



2-D-1 How to Be Successful in Chemistry

I chose to comment on a blog titled “How to Succeed in Organic Chemistry – Student Edition”. The reason I chose this blog is because every year, I have a handful of students who never pass my class. The sad thing is, that in most cases, I can predict who will pass and who will fail after only just the first quarter of school. This is because my class builds upon itself – so if a student doesn’t master chapters 1, 2, 3, there is very little chance that he/she will understand chapters 4 -12.

The professor who created this blog did so because it was his first year teaching organic chemistry, and he was surprised at the number of students who were struggled. So, he asked students to blog about suggestions that would give to a new student who was starting to take organic chemistry.

Below is the link to the page where the professor compiled student answers.


Below is a link to Jeremy’s page, who was a student in the class.


Some of the main points that students suggested, that would also pertain to my chemistry class include:

Read material before class, so when you get to class you are hearing it for the second time

Ask questions when you have them

After class, re-write and re-organize your notes

Use a pencil, not a pen to write notes

Take time to work through homework and practice problems (make sure you understand what you are doing)

Work on chemistry a little each day, never try to cram (it will NOT work – I promise).  For my class, 30 minutes, 6 days a week is appropriate (it will not work if you try to study for a single 3 hour session, once a week)

Don’t get behind … seriously … don’t get behind

Take advantage of “office hours” or tutoring help, when you need it (schedule an appointment with the teacher)


How the Read/Write Web Affects my Practice and Classroom

As a relatively new teacher, I am always looking for fun new ways to teach chemistry.  When I first started teaching, I contacted and met with two other chemistry teachers in neighboring districts.  While I am extremely grateful to both of these teachers (and couldn’t have gotten started without them), many of their practices seemed out dated for today’s learners.  As a result of this, I started to turn to the web in order to elaborate upon the basic foundation of my curriculum.

In the past, I have pretty much used the read/write web to take (or read) information in order to get ideas of new fun ways to teach chemistry.  But, after starting this graduate program, I would like to change this status and share some of the fun things I do within my classroom with others.  My reason for doing this is because I now think I have some lessons that other teachers could benefit from.  In addition, I am still (and probably always will be) in search of continuing to find new ideas to try within my classroom.  I’m hoping that by creating a blog and sharing some of my own lessons/techniques/ideas, that others will comment on my posts and share some of their great ideas with me.

Below you will see three lessons that I feel are worth sharing with other teachers.      Please feel free to check them out and provide feedback.  For the one about the jack-o-latern, I wanted to post a video, but could not without upgrading wordpress.  I will try to post the video to the forum.