SN1 vs SN2

I have not long been back from Oxford in the UK where I was running a revision course for OSC. One of the concepts that the students seemed needing clarifying was when to decide when an organic reaction was SN1 or SN2 so I thought it may be worth sharing this with you in this blog post: First of all, some definitions. S = Substitution (there are other types of mechanisms out there such as elimination and addition.) N = Nucleophilic (it is ...

Inquiry-based Learning

The MYP is all about inquiry-based learning but how much of it goes on in your diploma chemistry. 'I don't have enough time' is a commonly heard sentence in workshops. 'I can only just cover the content in the time I had, let alone fit in something extra'. Well, if you do it right, inquiry-based learning it should help you to gain a bit of time. First of all, I am sure many readers teach DP chemistry but not necessarily MYP science, so what ...

Concept-based Learning (CBL)

CBL or concept-based learning is (and has been) a real buzz word in IB circles. But what is concept-based learning and how can you bring it into the classroom? I am hoping that this month’s blog post will give you some ideas that will motivate you to find out more about CBL and hopefully, try it out in class. CBL is driven by ‘big ideas’, rather than content that is subject specific. CBL also supports the attributes of the learner profile. ...

Redox Cells: Revision Checklist

When I teach about redox cells, I like starting with the Daniell cell. It is an example of the world’s first battery (cell) and if you remember the details of it, you can apply to same rules to any unfamiliar redox cells. First, a diagram of the cell itself: Hazmat2, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0) Note that the zinc half cell is on the left and the copper half-cell on the right. This is important to remember when it comes to ...

Visible Thinking Routines

We have just had some great INSET on 'Visible Thinking Routines'.  To be honest, I thought this was going to be some complicated and difficult 'new' way of teaching things (apologies for my skepticism) but as the session went on I came to realize that yes, it was something new for me to think about and do but it wasn't at all complicated. In fact, many of the ideas used I already use myself anyway: the INSET session just helped me ...

Differentiating Your Lessons

When I started teaching (22 years ago) differentiation was the buzz word. We had extensive lectures on it in my teacher training qualification, and the schools I carried out my teaching practice in were ensuring that all of their lessons were ‘fully differentiated’. Invariably, this meant having three worksheets up your sleeve, an easy, medium, and difficult one. You would then give students a worksheet according to their ability (this was labelled differentiation by task). There was also differentiation by outcome, where ...

Formal charge

Formal charge is not currently taught in the current course but will be taught from this August as part of the new syllabus (that you may have heard your teacher moaning about!) It is a really good idea / concept that is similar to that of oxidation numbers but which applies to covalent compounds. But what is it?   Well, it is certainly not the type of charge intimated in the above image! It is actually given as: FC = V – (N + B/2) You did ...

The IB Learner Profile

The IB Learner Profile characterises how YOU should aim to be with regards to education and learning. It strives to teach people how to be 'life long learners' - education does not finish once your diploma has finished and it give you skills that should last you a life time. It is also aimed at YOU (or everyone) - whether you are in grade 1, grade 5, grade 12, a teacher, a parent or an administrator or school governor. But what ...

‘R’ day

So, the results were published last Friday. Now that the dust is beginning to settle, how did you do? If you are not happy with the results there are a few options available to you if you are a teacher or a student: Via your diploma coordinator: 1, Ask for a recount (this may not be available if papers were marked online). 2, Ask for a remark. 3, If IA is your concern, request a remark (EUR cat 3). Naturally there is a charge for ...

The Mpemba Effect (2)

So, you have been mulling over the answer to this one all weekend. What is the Mpemba effect and how will it make me richer? First, the effect: Named after Erasto Mpemba, a Tanzanian student who posted the question in 1968 to a visiting professor to his school (Professor Denis Osborne). 'Why Sir, does hot water freeze faster than cold water? If you take two similar containers with equal volumes of water, heat one so that it is boiling and leave the other ...