Bond with James: 2015

Friday, December 25, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 12: Plickers

Merry Christmas! The final day of Twelve Techie Gifts is upon us and I'm a little excited about sharing the last gift - Plickers.
Plickers is an awesome and fun way to quickly formatively assess your students. If you're familiar with the remote clickers concept, then Plickers is essentially the same thing - only without having to fork over tons of money for the actual clicker remotes and software.  

What you need to get started:

  • Go to and create a free account.
  • Download the Plickers app onto your phone or tablet device (this is important because using a QR code reader, other scanner, or your phone/tablet camera will not work).
  • Visit to select the type of student cards you want and print out them out (see image below). 
  • Use your phone or tablet as a scanner and also have Plickers open on your computer screen (if you wish to show the results LIVE to your students). 

If you utilize student interactive notebooks, then you could print out the standard cards (which come 2 cards per sheet). Plickers provides the capability to assign students a card. This prevents having to print out new cards each time. 
Or you can play anonymously and give students new cards each time; however, I recommend creating class rosters and assigning names to gather data about your students. 

Currently, the only question formats are multiple choice or True and False. You can add pictures and choose more than one correct answer. 
The only caution I would add is to avoid laminating the cards as this may interfere with the Plicker scanning app. Plickers does provide a set a special laminated cards, however, there is a cost associated with it.  You could also order cards from Amazon for a reduced fee.  However, the cards will hold up if students place them in a pocketed section in their interactive notebooks as I previously suggested. 

Take a look at Plickers in action. I hope this is something you can utilize for the New Year as you head back into the classroom refresh and revitalized.  Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 11: Smore

Smore is a free program that allows you to create classroom newsletters.  This is a great service, especially if you're interested in getting classroom information out to students, parents, and/or the rest of your school's community.  There are various selections you can choose from to enhance your newsletters - including pictures, videos, audio, and links.  Additionally, you can easily drag and drop the components within your newsletter to the areas you like. Smore is easy to use and a great way to showcase all the excitement and learning that occurs in your classroom on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 10: Google Slides

Google Slides is another tool located in the Google Drive.  You will need a Gmail account in order to access the Google Drive application. Google Slides is similar to Microsoft PowerPoint.  Since Google Slides is available through Google Drive, you are able to share your presentation with others. This is a useful feature if you would like to collaborate with other individuals - which may be great for a group of students working together on a project as they can edit and/or make comments on the presentation.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 9: PROJEQT

PROJEQT is another interactive presentation software. Similar to some of the other software applications  I've shared, PROJEQT allows you to work and view your presentations on multiple technological sources and screen sizes. The one thing about PROJEQT that I noticed was different from some of the other software applications was that you are able to embed real-time feeds from various social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, blogs, and more. Check out the video below.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 8: Canva

Do you need to create a new Facebook or Twitter cover photo? Or perhaps you need to update your blog or classroom website header but you don't know how to utilize graphic designing tools such as Photoshop. Don't worry!  Check out Canva - a graphic design software that makes the graphic designing process easier for you. Canva provides more than 1 million images and fonts in their library to help you get started.  Additionally, you can share Canva designs with other people and even give them access to edit your design (if they have a Canva account).  One thing to know is that there are items that have fees associated with them and you'll be prompted to pay for those elements during the publishing process. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 7: Sway

Sway is an interactive presentation software from Microsoft.  Sway allows individuals to create and share stories, newsletters, projects, and other presentations.  Sway adapts to the type of device you are using (e.g. tablet, phone, or computer) like some of the other techie gifts that I shared. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 6: Joomag

Joomag is a digital publishing service that allows teachers or students to create interactive flip-book / magazine publications.  Joomag comes with several pre-designed templates.  The software also allows multiple versions of the publication to be created for use on various devices, such as a phone, tablet, or webpage. 

Additionally, Joomag provides the opportunity for students to earn money on their publications. Publication experience is not required as Joomag will assist you in developing a publication that suits your needs. While this might seem applicable to a journalism or newspaper class, I'm positive that Joomag could be utilized in all subject areas. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 5: Raw Shorts

Raw Shorts is another animated video generator that can help teachers or students create awesome presentations that help explain subject related content.  Individuals are able to share their videos on Facebook, YouTube, or their personal website.  The Raw Shorts media library provides thousands of icons and images to help enhance your videos.  While Raw Shorts seems to be advertised toward businesses, it still could be applicable for use in the classroom. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 4: EMaze

Emaze is alternative presentation software that allows you to create presentations similar to layouts found in PowerPoint or more sophisticated 3D presentations.  Check out the sample video below...

Monday, December 14, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 3: Piktochart

Looking for an infographic but can't seem to find one that meets your classroom needs?  Check out Piktochart - a software that will allow you to create your own infographic in a matter of minutes.   
Piktochart allows you to name your infographic, add your own data, choose themes, change backgrounds, add icons or photos, and much more.  When you're ready, you can export it to sites such as SlideShare and even share your work on various social media sites. View the video below for more information.  

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the technology companies presented in the 12 Days of Techie Tips series.  I assist the technology committee on my campus in order to find and share awesome resources with other educators so that they may have alternative resources to utilize in their classrooms. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 2: Haiku Deck

Create simple, engaging slideshow presentations with Haiku Deck. This software is flexible for use on a desktop, laptop, or tablet. You can subscribe to Haiku Deck Basic for a free version; however, the software limits some of the features that may only be accessible through paid versions

Please note that SlideShare will no longer support the Haiku Deck presentation as of December 15, 2015. 

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the technology companies presented in the 12 Days of Techie Tips series.  I assist the technology committee on my campus in order to find and share awesome resources with other educators so that they may have alternative resources to utilize in their classrooms. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Twelve Techie Gifts - Day 1: PowToon

Looking for an alternative method to present content to your students instead of using PowerPoint or Prezi? Why not check out PowToon - a free animated video/presentation software. PowToon allows an individual to create digital stories or presentations in a non-traditional format (e.g. PowerPoint).  The software is applicable to all grade levels and could be utilized in a flipped classroom model.  The video below illustrates a PowToon in action, as well a short explanation on how you can start using the software to create your own PowToon. 

You may also visit the PowToon homepage or YouTube site for tutorial videos

**The free version allows a person to utilize the software, however, the software applications are limited.  Please review the pricing plans here.

Note: I am not affiliated with any of the technology companies presented in the 12 Techie Gifts series.  I assist the technology committee on my campus in order to find and share awesome resources with other educators so that they may have alternative resources to utilize in their classrooms. 

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cyber Sale (November 30th - December 1st)

I am participating in the TpT  Cyber Monday-Tuesday Sale (November 30th-December 1st).  
Everything in my store will be 20% off. Additionally,  you can receive an additional 8% with the TeachersPayTeachers site-wide sale code: SMILE.   Here are a few items you may want to check out while you can during the site-wide sale: 
Enhance your chemistry interactive notebooks (INBs) with either the middle school or high school INB bundle.  Both come with note sheets and interactive graphic organizers for atomic structure, the Periodic Table, numbers in science, and conservation of mass.  The high school version comes with the following additional topics: ionic bonding, covalent bonding, and the mole concept. 

A sample video of the Periodic Table version
Engage you students in a review with a "I Have...Who Has..." card sort activity.  There are various versions from DNA and RNA, Classification, Matter and Change, Covalent Bonding,  and Atomic Structure to name a few. 

The Chemistry Task Cards 9-in-1 Bundle is one of my more extensive sets as it covers 9 unit concepts. A video of the Periodic Table set is shown here:

Sunday, November 15, 2015

How do we represent covalent compounds?

I shared this in a 2013 blog post, however, I have updated it some what and included a few more pictures.  This is an instructional strategy to help students explore the representation of covalent compounds through the use of a gallery walk. I recommend doing this activity before diving into notes/lecture (i.e. a type of inquiry lesson). You can use the activity as a reference point when speaking to students about bonding concepts during direction instruction.
How does this work? You will need to create a few electron dot structure posters of various covalent compounds. Create two for each compound - one showing the bonds as electrons (Lewis structure) and the other showing the bonds as lines (structural formula). Using the colors of the molecular models also helps (oxygen in red, nitrogen in blue, etc.) - which means you probably should print in color; however, printing in black and white that will not hinder the activity. 
Give or ask students to obtain two Post-It notes. One Post-It will be used for an "I notice..." statement. Students should look for patterns or things that look familiar.  In the picture below, someone wrote, "I notice N has 8 dots and each H has 2". 
The other Post-It will be used for an "I wonder..." statement. Students should pose questions about what they see on the poster. 
You can also use the activity to discover misconceptions / misunderstandings. For example, in the picture above, someone wrote, "This is a sickness", with an arrow pointing to the word ammonia. Clearly this student has pneumonia and ammonia mixed up; yet, it presents an opportunity to address this issue in class. 
Of course, you should be on the look out for potential inappropriate statements; although, I recommend referencing that during the activity expectations.  However, if you're worried about managing the comments, you could adapt the activity and have students complete the gallery walk in their interactive notebooks (if you use them) by writing the molecules you have posters for and create a two column page with the "I noticed..." and "I wondered..." sections. 
As an extension, you could have students pair up or get in groups of four to discuss what they each wrote and come to a group consensus on a  few or all of the molecules.  Have each group share out or contribute an idea to create a class anchor chart on chart paper (for "I noticed" and "I wondered").  Reference the anchor chart as you discuss covalent bonding/compounds and have students answer their own "I wondered" statements as you proceed through the unit. 
Another extension is adding some ionic posters to the mix.  You could do this during the ionic bonding unit or after you've talked about covalent bonding. 

Do you have any suggestions for enhancing this activity or an activity that you could incorporate with what I've shared here? Feel free to comment in the comment section

Need more resources for teaching covalent bonding and nomenclature? Check out the video and pictures below.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Activities and tips to help develop a science curriculum

Activities and tips to help develop a science curriculum
Posted by Bond with James on Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Electron Configuration

I am late sharing this; however, it's better late than never. This is something that was shared by a former colleague of mine, Ms. Julia Sloan. I thought it was a great way to visually represent e- configuration to help students with the concept.  The following rules for assigning electron orbitals can be applied:

1. The Aufbau Principle 
Aufbau, which comes from the German word aufbauen, means to build up or arrange.  This particular principle states that electrons occupy the lowest available energy orbital.   The large poster, with the cups attached and arrow on the side, is a great visualization of this principle.

2. The Pauli Exclusion Principle
This principle is based states that a maximum of two electrons can occupy an orbital; however the electrons must have opposite spins. You could use blank dominoes or other pieces to illustrate this as shown in the picture above.  

3. Hund's Rule:
This rule is based on the concept that electrons repel one another. Therefore, orbitals in a sub-level are first occupied by a single electron prior to the addition of an another electron with an opposite spin (see # 2 above).  Of course the pom poms in the cup don't show this in the picture here, however, students would still need to place an "electron" in each cup first prior to pairing them together.  You could stand from afar and observe students to determine if they understood how this rule is applied. 

The materials:
  • White butcher paper and markers.
  • Craft pom poms can be ordered online or at a local craft store.  These will serve as electrons.
  • Clear plastic cups - used to hold the electrons.
  • Velcro- used to adhere the cups to the butcher paper. 
  • Of course you could always substitute and create your own version. 
Depending on your resources, you could create one for the class or create one per group and have students work together to complete a few problems. This is a great way to introduce the topic - whether it be a lecture and/or a student activity. I know this would have helped me as a student due to the visual and hands-on approach; as well as the fact that I would have had fun learning at the same time. 

What are your thoughts concerning this hands-on way to teach electron configuration? Feel free to share your answer or ideas in the Comments Section below. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Let's Bond with One Another!

Interested in another activity for your ionic bonding unit? Well, check out the 2 minute video below concerning an activity I found during my second year in education. 
FYI - the video links will not work if you're viewing on a mobile device or tablet. 
The original activity is titled Bond with a Classmate and was created by Gail Sanders.  You can find the FREE monatomic templates shown in the video and a worksheet at the source site here. This site also has a lot of great items that helped me out when I first started teaching - especially, when I had no help or curriculum; so I hope you find the items there to be useful as well. :)

While the templates were great, I found that they were missing the polyatomic ions and the multivalent, transition metal ions.  Therefore, I was inspired to extend the activity for high school level students and created additional ions to use with my students. These templates are also FREE and can be found by clicking here
As mentioned in the video, this activity serves as a great instructional tool that allows your students the opportunity to get up and move around (or even take them outside as shown in the pictures in the video).  

I would love to hear if you've tried this activity before (or if you were inspired to try it checking out the site and my video).  As always, thank you for taking time out of your day for stopping by. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Ionic Nomenclature Dice Activity

Here is a short video (3:25 minutes) where I discuss an ionic dice activity that I've used since 2008.  Additionally, I could not find the dice used in the video on the company site; however, I have posted a few links below the video for you to visit in case you're interested. 

I forgot to mention that the dice had monatomic and multivalent ions (Pb, Cr, etc.) and polyatomic ions.  Additionally, the cation and anion dice combination also varied between students. This helped cut down potential cheating, especially if students knew that they would get called on one-by-one to roll the dice for me for a quick check. 

Blank White Acrylic Dice Cubes 

Do you think your students would enjoy doing something like this to help them learn ionic nomenclature and formula writing? Feel free to share your response in the Comments section

Looking for additional resources to enhance your Ionic Compound/Bonding Unit? Check out the following resource - especially if you are doing interactive notebooks. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

You're so dense!

Many of the demos here are not new. However, if you're new to profession or teaching chemistry, perhaps these may help you.  

One engagement trick I learned early in my career was using duck tape, a brick (or piece of wood), and a piece of Styrofoam with similar dimensions.  If done properly, you may have students compare the objects and discuss their observations (e.g. why does one feel heavier if both objects have the same volume).   

I was surprised that none of the nearby stores such as Hobby Lobby or Michaels had Styrofoam and so I went with wet foam. For the record, I hated the wet foam. While it was easy to cut, it came apart easily. Additionally, the duck tape did not adhere to the surface of the foam.  I had to wrap long pieces of tape around the foam and stick pieces of tape to one another.  I recommend going with Styrofoam or cutting a piece of wood to match the dimensions of the brick.  Wood might be a better substitute for either the Styrofoam or wet foam because it is less difficult to puncture the wood than the other two pieces. After several successful years of keeping my Styrofoam piece safe, I finally had a student take a pencil to it.  I was not happy - although, all the pieces are cheap and easy to set up. 
This next part includes several videos of demos or activities you may do with your students.  Due to the fact that several of my students have seen some of these, I actually have these set up as stations in the lab area.  Students would rotate from station to station and would have an opportunity to take notes, observe, and explain what they thought was happening.  Depending on class size, the entire station activity would take no more than 10 - 20 minutes. 
Feel free to use any of these density videos with your students - whether to show in class, have absent students view, or to embed on your personal site. 

Density: Coke and Diet Coke
Most students in my area have seen this by the time they get to high school. This demo is cheap and easy to set up. If you don't have a small tank, use a large beaker or other clear container.  One year I even brought in a cooler with several different drinks. I asked students if they had ever used a cooler and noticed the drinks in it  (i.e., why are some floating and others at the bottom). 

Density: Ice in Alcohol and Water
This is cheap and easy - all you need is a clear container, ice, alcohol, and water. 

Density: Ice in Vegetable Oil
If you decide to do this one, I suggest using a smaller piece of ice and allowing some time for the process to take place. If the students are rotating from station to station, then it's not a big deal. However, have something for the students to do if you are not considering a station rotation. 

Density: Eggs in Tap Water, Salt Water, and Tap/Salt Water
There are two versions of this video (normal and slow-mo).  I recommend setting this up for the students to observe as one of your stations. Try using smaller volume beakers or containers so that you are not wasting salt. Additionally, I once tried using 1000mL beakers with no success on the tap/salt water combination - perhaps I was not patient enough. Also, make sure you have fresh eggs as rotten eggs will float in tap water. 

For the tap/salt water combination container, pour the salt water in first and see if the egg will float.  If it does, then pour in the tap water; or take the egg out and then pour the tap water in so that you can place the egg in later. You could add a drop of food coloring after the egg is placed and gently swirl (the very top only) to help students distinguish between the two layers - the dye will diffuse through the tap water. 

Another station you can create is the density column demo. From bottom to top: Karo syrup, dish washing liquid, water with food dye, vegetable oil, and alcohol with food dye.  You can add more liquids and even add solids to the mix. 

As mentioned earlier, all of the activities shown above would be part of a station set up and would last no more than 20 minutes.  I would then move into the concept of density and calculations as those are specific standards in my state (calculations in 8th grade and the concept of an intensive physical property at HS chemistry level). I've done this several ways.  One method involves the use of blocks. While the blocks don't fit in a 100mL graduated cylinder, students can practice measuring the volume of a cube.

To get in more density calculation practice, as well as show in the intensive property of a substance, I would assign each group - made up of 4 students - a different tube of density cylinders (refer to photo below). The student data and graphs were amazing every time I used these in class and the activity helped students with the concept that the density of a substance is an intensive property. I would caution the use of glass graduated cylinders and the steel and copper pieces.  

You may always rely on the use of water if you are not able to obtain the blocks, the classroom density assortment, or you if simply wish to get another lab in. Have students collect data on different volumes of water (20mL, 40mL, 60mL, 80mL, and 100mL).  I did this the year I moved to a new campus and we did not have the density cylinders at the time.  My students still obtain great data this way, however, they sometimes get bored using only the water. Furthermore, students do not get to practice the displacement method to calculating the density of an object.

The blocks and cylinders come in handy if you like doing lab practicals. You can assess students on their measuring skills, as well as their density calculations. For example, students might get 1 point for their accuracy (how close they were to the true value of the unknown substance), 1 point for showing their calculation, 1 point for significant figures, and maybe 1 point for lab safety.  I always explain to students that they will be taking part in a lab practical down the road and so it benefits them to participate and pay attention during all labs. 

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading. Please feel free to share, comment, and/or ask a question. Enjoy the rest of your day and have an excellent week! 
-Bond with James-