Saturday, August 23, 2014

BCCE2014: Keeping the boat afloat!

A year ago in May, my history colleague (@mahabs9) gave me my first lesson in Twitter. 

At the time I had no idea what even a hashtag was. (Why are folks putting pound signs all over the place and didn't they forget the .com on their @name?) I had just started my company and my producer set up a Twitter and this blog for me and said "You need to do this." Great. More things on my plate.

Twitter has been a great adventure for me and culminated with a week of chemistry collaboration at the Biennial Conference on Chemical Education in August, and, best of all, the journey continues! 

I connected fairly early with a set of chemistry teachers through #chemchat. I knew @BCCE2014 was in my backyard at GVSU in Allendale, MI. Doug Ragan (@dragan39) was putting together a symposium on global collaboration in chemistry. I decided my What's UR Rxn? chemistry blog project seemed to fit with the theme. (My presentation is at the bottom of this post.)

Off to downtown Grand Rapids!
It was wonderful to meet face-to-face with these inspirational teachers who I had only known on through Twitter. I was a avid spectator in their #molympics events last fall and had watched as the library of short videos came together last spring. I had learned a ton about flipped teaching, had discussions about the new AP curriculum, and debated different methods of reaching students from many of these folk. 

Another great part of the BCCE2014 experience was the interaction between higher educators and secondary educators. I was very much impressed with the concept that one could flip a huge lecture section of chemistry. Professors spoke honestly about their experiences as chemistry 'teachers' as opposed to chemistry 'lecturers.' Both groups brought different mindsets and skills sets to the table to the benefit of both.

Our symposium crew.
Our symposium was on the very last day of BCCE2014 and coming back from a night on the town on Tuesday, we bemoaned the fact that we would be talking mostly to ourselves. (Heck, we had been doing that for a year on Twitter, we could have stayed home!) We had a full classroom for our symposium and even at the end of the conference, teachers and professors were learning enthusiastically from each other. 

After BCCE, we have kept the discussion open about more collaboration. Dave Prindle (@dprindle) has put together for a more permanent home for #molympics, video warm-up library, and other #chemchat ideas. 

Eric Postuma-Adams (@eposthuma) shared a first-day-of-school activity in which students work in groups to build a boat out and see how many pennies it can hold before it sinks. Doug created a hashtag, #buildaboat, to follow along as many of us try this out with our students in the next week. So, if you are inspired, join us as we work together to create interesting, thoughtful, informative chemistry lessons for our students. And definitely, feel free to collaborate with us! 

Also, when I checked #buildaboat today, I found this marvelous tweet from some real boat builders in Turkey. Let's lose sight of the shore for our students, knowing that we can work together to keep that boat afloat!