H-B Woodlawn Chemistry Syllabus

units e-mail me

Course Description:

Chemistry is an essential course for becoming a scientifically literate citizen. While learning about the physical world at the molecular level you will also begin to think like a chemist. As you are asked to draw your own conclusions and identify patterns and relationships you will not only gain a deeper understanding of the molecular world, but also develop your reasoning, your analytical skills and your independent learning abilities. You will strengthen your ability to generate, evaluate and effectively communicate scientific knowledge by conducting experiments and analyzing current scientific topics and other claims. This course aligns with the Virginia Standards of Learning. All students will take the Virginia SOL Chemistry exam during the spring of 2014.

Topics by Quarter

Quarter 1: Quarter 2: Quarter 3: Quarter 4:
  • Lab Safety
  • Measurement
  • Moles
  • Gases
  • Matter
  • Periodic Table
  • Atomic Structure
  • Electrons
  • Periodic Trends
  • Ionic Bonding
  • Formulas
  • Covalent Bonding
  • Organic Chem
  • Solutions
  • Acids and Bases
  • Reactions
  • Stoichiometry
  • Reaction Rates

A flipped class can mean many different things. In just about all cases it means that class time is primarily spent working through problems or doing hands-on activities in which students are engaged with the material instead of being lectured to. The teacher's role has changed from presenter of information to facilitator, learning coach, and tutor. So instead of standing at the front and telling my students what they need to know, I am walking around answering their questions, directing them to various activities, adding additional explanation, asking probing questions - getting to work with each student individually. In my class information is presented to students using either video lectures, inquiry based activities, discovery labs, simulations, or reading. Almost all of it can be done in or out of class. (Labs, obviously, can only be done in class.)

My classroom is a little different than a traditional classroom...I will give you a packet. You will work through the packet like it is a workbook or a tutorial. Each day certain pages are assigned and you should complete those. If you don't - the rest becomes homework or you need to find a time to come in and work on it with my support. You will know what to do each day because the calendar lists the pages assigned. As you work through the packet you will check your answers with answer keys posted online or in the classroom.

The packets are self-explanatory. Answer the questions. Watch the videos. Take the notes. Do the assignments / labs. Participate in any group activities. If any of it doesn't work for you I am open to discussing alternatives! You can ask me for another option or make-up one yourself. If more than one option is given - pick the one that will challenge but not overwhelm. Ask questions. Check your work with answer keys. In this way you will monitor your learning and know what you need to practice and what you have mastered.

Sometimes a lab will be assigned. If it is a class lab you will complete this with the class whether you are ready to or not. Obviously, it is best to stay on schedule for this reason. If it is an individual or partner lab, you will complete it when you get to it.

Ask questions of me or others whenever you have them! I'll be wandering around looking to help you if you get stuck or just wonder about something.

Each day you should come to class, choose somewhere to sit/stand that is far from distraction. Check the board or calendar in the packet for the day's assignments and begin working wherever you left off. Make an effort to ask questions and check your work as you go. Learn from your mistakes.

Finish the packet before the test date. I always plan one day for review. Sometimes we may do this as a whole class group. At the end of the packet is a study guide. Use it! See below for my recommendations for studying. If you don't finish the packet before the test date - finish it within 3 days. Take the test when you are ready. Taking longer than 3 days means your quarter grade will likely be significantly impacted for the worse because you will not be able to catch up by the end of the quarter. See the grading information section for more on what happens at the end of the quarter.

Check the board. The pages you should do in the packet for that day will be listed as will the date for the upcoming quiz.

Use the calendar in the front (first or second page) of each packet. It tells you which pages are due each day.

Assign yourself homework when you get behind and stick to it!

There is always a study guide near the end of the packet.

  • Go through the objectives and make a study guide or at the very least answer each one in your head.
  • Go through the vocab list. Cover up the definition and make sure you know what the words mean / could use them in an explanation. Don't just memorize the definition.
  • Do the review questions and essays. Check your answers with the key.
  • Go through each page in the packet and make trigger notes on the side. What does it mean to trigger your notes?
  • A trigger is a word or phrase that can trigger your mind to remember what is in your notes. They can be key words that you need to know or a phrase like "the five types of reactions". Write them in the left or right hand column of your notes. Use them later to study by folding the page so you can only see your "triggers". Here's an example of how to organize your notes to leave room for triggers.

My goal is to teach students in a way that lasts - a way that results in their being able to rationalize and think at the molecular level, to think how a chemist would think and to be able to apply those principles to their own lives.  In order to do that I strongly believe students have to take responsibility for their learning. They have to engage with the material and think about the problems and they need the time to do this at their own pace. I want all of my students to feel confident that they can understand chemistry no matter if their strengths lie in the science and math realm or if they lie in the arts and humanities.  As the human race evolves and as we find out more about how we and the Earth interact there will be many problems that require creative solutions; not just engineering solutions, but solutions that address all the facets of life on earth: social, political, etc.   It is my intention to help educate the next group of problem solvers so that they have the background knowledge, the confidence and the creativity to help us innovate our way to a successful future.

In the past, it has been endlessly frustrating to have kids ask me to repeat a whole lecture because it went too fast for them, to see the student whose eyes glaze over in the middle of your lecture and who will likely lose out because he or she was thinking of something else just then and there is no way to rewind the teacher and hear it again. The skills of realizing you don't know something and making the effort to go find out seemed to be foreign to many students.  Or maybe students are just afraid to say they don't know something, or worse, maybe they just don't know how to find out what they don't know.

To learn science takes more than listening to a lecture, it takes time mulling over the concepts, trying to figure them out on your own, looking for patterns and associations that help you organize them in a way that leads to deep understanding.  I want to provide the opportunity to do that for my students and when I saw this video - I was inspired to make it happen in my classroom.


What to expect from me:

  • keep an agenda at the front of the room where you will find the schedule for each week including upcoming quiz/lab due dates
  • regularly update the online grade book
  • provide most (some have copyrights) class documents online
  • provide access to answer keys and rubrics for all assignments and quizzes
  • allow flexibility in pacing the content
  • assign meaningful assignments

What I expect from you:

  • Respect yourself and everyone else.
  • Focused work in class.
  • Food is not to be consumed in class. This is a health issue in a science classroom (especially in a chemistry lab) and I am not lenient about it. Water and drinks are permitted only on the classroom side of the room.
  • Choose a place to sit/stand where you can best concentrate. This may be away from your friends. Verbum sap sat.
  • Come to all classes and come on time, ready to begin at the appointed time. See below for what to do if you are absent.
  • Be willing to work with anyone in the classroom. Collaborate in a meaningful way.
  • Computers are to be used only for assigned science class work.
  • Cell phones or other personal electronic devices can be used for class work only. No texting, phone calls or game playing during class.
  • Let me know if you need to leave the classroom so I know who is in class and who isn’t in case of an emergency.



To keep track of and organize packets, periodic table, lab work, notes and other reference sheets.

Writing Utensils

Pens AND pencils. Pencils and big erasers highly encouraged. You will need pens for lab work.

Spiral notebook

For lab notebook. This will be separate from your notes notebook. A 70 page notebook should be sufficient. There are old notebooks in class you are free to use as well.

Notebook paper

For notes. Can be a bound notebook, but will often have you ripping pages out to turn in. Must be different than your spiral bound lab notebook.


To listen to videos during class without disturbing others.

Scientific Calculator

You need a calculator that allows you to solve problems using scientific notation and logorithms (base 10).

Mac Book Air

This is not required if you have not been issued an APS laptop.


Often you will be asked to take a picture of your lab notebook to submit in an online lab report. You will need a camera to do this. A smart phone works, but if you don't have one I will have a method of taking pictures for you. Let me know in advance.


A test date is scheduled according to when I think you should be able to make it through a unit. You can choose to take the test that day or another day. However, you should try to take the test within 3 days. More than that and you will have difficulty finishing all of the tests before the end of the quarter.

Your grade is not lowered if you take a test late. However, if you do not take a test before the end of the quarter, I'll put a big ugly 0 in the grade book for it. Try not to do that. In fact, it is unlikely that you will do this. The most likely thing is that you will take the last quiz of the quarter on the last day possible and not have finished all of the required work. You probably won't do well on this quiz/test.Try not to do that either because it can set you up for difficulty in future units.

I use standards based grading. See next question for why.

This means that rather than just adding up points, I use a rubric to grade your tests. A generic rubric is shown below:

Level GPA grade Letter Grade Percentage used in grade book Description
Better than compentent 4 A 100 Shows though understanding of concepts. Can explain with details and solve complex problems with minimal errors.
Competent 3 B 85 Shows competent understanding of concepts. Explanations are correct w/o error, but less detail in vocabulary usage. Some errors in complex problems, but some complex problems correct.
Partial Competence 2 C 75 Shows partial competence. Explanations lack important details, but have some correct ideas. Can solve basic but not more complex problems.
Deveoping Competence 1 D 65 Major errors throughout, but shows some knowledge (e.g. by getting at least 80% of the questions correct on at least 1 section).
No evidence 0 E 0 or 50% No evidence of having learned the concepts. Very little correct. 0 for assignments not turned in. 50% for those turned in that have little correct or for complete, but late lab work.

You can expect to see GPA like numbers: 4,3,2,1 and 0 on your papers. If you get a 2 it represents a C and 75% is what goes in the grade book (not a 2 out of 4). I use GPA numbers to assign grades that I give you, but put % in the gradebook because if I use 4,3,2,1 in the gradebook the system will think a 2/4 = 50% instead of representing a 2 (which is a C) at 75%. You will see percentages in StudentVue so that they average correctly

You will likely have more than one grade on a test or lab. This is because I'm grading each skill independently. See next question for why I do this. Each score is put into the gradebook separately. Often a quiz will have 2 to 3 grade entries in the gradebook. Labs can have up to 6 grades: (lab safety, data collection, experimental methods, data analysis, formatting and a content objective).

Best practice research indicates that grading should utilize standards and allow for student growth. Therefore, I use a system that grades by learning objective or skill. For example, if you scored only a D on the moles topic, but an A on nomenclature, we would know that you needed more work on moles and could retake that quiz, but had mastered nomenclature. Averaging the two scores to come up with a grade for a test that included both topics wouldn't provide enough information about how you were doing.

Research also shows that grades need to be meaningful. What is a meaningful grade? A grade that provides information about the level at which a student is currently performing. A 4 to 0 scale is paramount for the success of this because I need a consistent way of determining and communicating student performance levels. It gives me a framework for designing tests and quizzes so that I am really measuring at what level a student understands something rather than just how many points a student can accumulate by showing how many bits of (perhaps unrelated) knowledge they have.

Furthermore, my goal is for students to focus their attention on learning and mastering chemistry concepts rather than on grades. Chemistry is a subject that builds on itself. As we progress throughout the year, students will still need to remember material learned in the first few weeks. With that in mind I have developed a course that allows students some flexibility in pacing and flexibility in testing. That flexibility coupled with grades focused on specific topics like moles, atomic structure and gas laws rather than broad categories like test, labs and homework, will allow students to better monitor and take charge of their learning.

Tests can be retaken. The new test grade will be averaged in with old test grades. To retake a test you must write the test yourself. Check it with me so I can give you feedback about areas you are missing questions. Once you have finalized a test, schedule a time to come in and take it. This is a great opportunity to show me that you really do know the concepts and have mastered them. I'm not going to lie - it's a lot of work, but you will learn ALOT doing it!

These are approximate percentages that may change from quarter to quarter because some quarters lend themselves to more labs than others.

Your quarter grade is broken up into the following weights:

Category Weight Description
Content objectives 70% This is mainly quiz grades, but will also include lab grades when they are assessing how well you understand a specific topic. For example, when you do the Boyle's law lab you will write a hypothesis using Kinetic Molecular Theory (KMT) in addition to collecting and analyzing data. You will receive a grade for KMT in addition to data collection and data analysis. The KMT grade will go in the content objectives section, while the other two will be in separate categories.
Significant Figures 5% Just about every assignment that involves math will require you to write your answer with the correct number of sig figs. This is your grade for that. How well you use sig figs is independent of how well you know how to solve chemistry problems so it gets a separate grade.
Data Collection 6% This is how well you organize and label data.
Level Criteria
4 Clearly labeled, organized, in titled table w/ uncertainties and right # decimals
3 Missing some raw data,
Missing a few units
Missing some ± or observation.
2 Missing ± or observations
Missing many units
Data needs more labeling.
1 Missing all units but otherwise beautifully organized.
0 Missing important data/ data incomplete or incomprehensible
Data Analysis 5% This is how well you analyze data. This includes assessing accuracy and precision, graphing, labeling graphs, and answering data-based questions.
Experimental Methods 6% This measures how well you understand an experiment, includes identification of variables, why particular procedural steps are used and identification of errors.
Level Criteria
4 Shows thorough understanding of the experimental method. (Evidence: correct variables, the way hypothesis and conclusion are written show understanding of method, questions answered correctly, executes procedures correctly, can identify errors in method.
3 Shows competent understanding of method.
2 Shows partial understanding
1 Significant errors/omissions but some correct
0 No Evidence
Lab Safety 3% This assesses your knowledge of emergency procedures and consistency of working safely. You grade will be comprised of:
  • Reading, signing and returning the lab safety contract.
  • Taking a lab safety quiz.
  • Making a drawing of where emergency and safety equipment is located in the classroom.
  • Performing as safety officer during the quarter.
  • Cleaning up. To assess clean-up, at the conclusion of the lab I will give each person in your lab group a clean-up sticker if your station has been thoroughly cleaned. These stickers can only be received right after the lab, not later in the day or the next day. If you leave without getting one, then you don't get one. If you want to earn a make-up sticker, you can come in during a free block and put glassware away or wash dishes.
Lab Notebook & Formatting 3% In this class you will be keeping a lab notebook. It is an important skill for budding scientists to learn! This grade will grade that you:
  1. keep a lab notebook with all of your labs in it - assessed at end of year
  2. format lab notebook pages and reports appropriately. See rubric below.
Level Criteria
4 Has title, purpose, procedure reference (e.g. paket # and page), pg headings (name, date pg #), used ink, front side only. Sections clearly labeled. Handwriting is legible. Calculations are labeled and easy to follow.
3 One omission.
2 Missing 2 things.
1 Verging on incomprehensible, but data are present.
0 No Evidence
Although, we will primarily be turning in lab reports through google docs, you will occasionally take pictures of lab notebook pages and insert them into your reports.
Science Literacy 2% This is a grade for assignments related to learning about topics that you will not be tested on. It may involve reading articles, creating projects or doing research.

You 4 quarters will be averaged and assigned a grade according to APS guidelines.

If you are absent on a test day, no problem, just take the test the next day you are back at school or whenever you are ready to take it.

If you are absent on a lab day, see me ASAP so we can get you scheduled to make it up.

If you are absent on the last day of the quarter and were planning to take the quiz that date and the absence is both a surprise (unplanned) and excused we will work something out so you don't get a zero for that quiz.

The short answer is yes. In the beginning you will not be able to take a test until the packet is complete. This is evidence to me that you are ready. However, as I get to know you throughout the year we can negotiate. No matter what, you will be allowed to take the last quiz of the quarter without having finished the packet because I am not going to force you to take a zero for not doing homework, but I don't like it. Don't get behind!

The only work that could be turned in late are labs. I will take labs up to 3 days late and grade them for full credit since I expect you to stay within 3 days of the schedule. Once I finish grading labs for your block, the most you can earn is 50%.

Other Policies:

Lab safety is of utmost important. There is a lot you can do to make sure everyone is safe in the lab, much of this is covered in the lab safety contract.. It is required that you read, sign and return the lab safety contract. before you can begin lab work.

Students are expected to attend every class and to participate. I have designed a class where students can work at their own pace. That requires a level of engagement on your part that you may not be used to. We have a limited time together, but you can mange this class in a way that requires little outside work. Much of the presentation of material will be done through online lectures. Class time is when you have me available to answer your questions, work on problems, do labs, work with other students, check your work, take quizzes, etc. Because you have a lot of responsibility as to the way you spend class time, I am looking to you to make the most of it. Students who do not use class time effectively or are frequently absent will not entice me to give up my planning/free time outside of class to help them.

Because students are allowed to choose when they take a test, you are on your honor not to share test information with students who have not taken it yet.

Students caught giving and/or using unauthorized aid on an assignment will receive a 0. This includes writing assignments like labs in which it is very tempting for students to “work together” on parts that should be completed individually.

Parts of lab work that should be done independently include:

  • calculations and answering questions.
    • This means that you cannot copy your partner's work verbatim, but you can have the same answers as long as you both contributed to the process and you both understand process.
  • writing hypotheses and conclusions:
    • This should be written completely independently. You can discuss with each other what you are writing, but should not share written copies with each other or use the exact same wording.

I encourage you to use your electronic devices for school work. Looking up something online, using the calculator, taking pictures of answer keys or announcements on the board, lab set-ups or data to post in a lab report are all acceptable uses. Texting and playing games are not. If you are not using the device for school work I will ask you to give it to me. I may call home if it becomes a problem.

You should feel free to attend more than one chemistry class a day if you need to! I teach blocks E, F, G and H. I am also available for help during C & D and during many TA periods.