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Some traditions are worth preserving. One tradition I cherish is that my AP Chemistry class gets a chance to express their gratitude and learn about compounds at the same time. Here's some of their work:
1. They don't deserve it.
Your naughtiest class needs to do more labs. You know that one class - they don't listen, don't follow instructions, don't complete assignments, and don't seem to care - they need to do more labs! How else will you entice them if you don't ignite their curiosity and offer them something new and different from all their other classes? Besides, once they know you will give them a chance to move and explore, they also become more willing to complete the seatwork. Do a lab every day (if possible) with your toughest group of kids. You will be amazed at the transformation.
2. They can't sit still.
You know this already, so stop trying to force your students to sit in a desk all day! Get them up and moving. It's easier for them to sit still if they trust that you will get them involved in the lesson as soon as you can. It doesn't have to be a formal lab - just get up and act out the motion of molecules or dramatize a physics problem. Not only will it help their comprehension, it will help with behavior problems. Kids sit enough in other classes. Don't make them do it in your class too.
3. They don't turn in lab reports.
Who likes to grade those anyway? Give them a lab quiz. Graph the data together and then grade their data analysis. Have a "board meeting" by giving each group a dry erase board to present their findings on. Doing a lab every day doesn't mean grading a formal lab report every day. Be creative and give them a variety of ways to communicate their results. One of the best lab reports I ever got was submitted as a video.
4. There's not enough time.
I often hear from teachers that they would do more labs, but they don't have time. I also hear students say "Our teacher cancelled our lab because we weren't listening during notes/didn't turn in our homework/failed our quiz, etc." Labs are not a waste of time or a reward for good behavior! You don't have enough face-to-face time with your students to waste it by letting them watch YOU solve problems at the board. The level of understanding we can build through inquiry and labs- by DOING SCIENCE - far surpass what we can achieve by just reading, writing, and talking about science.
5. They can't be trusted with lab equipment.
Lab safety will only be a priority if you, the teacher, make it a priority. This includes handling equipment appropriately and demonstrating proper lab techniques, and leaving time for clean up at the end. Consider allowing students to earn badges for certain lab skills, like properly lighting a bunsen burner, mastering microscope skills, or carrying out a titration. Make it fun and meaningful - include lab skills and safety in your gradebook. Follow through with consequences for violations. A lot of my glassware gets cleaned during after school detention and it's a logical consequence for repeat offenders.
If you are teach science, you get to do one of the coolest jobs on the planet! If you can't get kids excited about the smells and squishes and colors and sounds, you're just missing out - and so are they.