From: Martha Harson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Mar 07 2003 - 16:22:42 EST
I have been teaching chemistry for 24 years and have tried various sequences. I've tried delaying significant digits, scientific notation, and metric conversions until actually needed. But it seems to work best for me to tackle those topics early on. The first week, we do metric estimations and play metric mania. We do lots of easy labs where we measure masses and volumes and calculate densities. I think it makes things easier for students when we get to moles, etc. if the math skills have been introduced before.
One thing that has helped my students is a list of "every time questions". After each test, I have students mark the questions that I consider to be most important. They keep a list of those questions. They know that those same questions (with the numbers changed) will appear on every subsequent test throughout the semester. We are on block schedule and just completed the midterm test for spring semester. It was just a compilation of "every time questions". Every single student knew how to name compounds and write formulas and convert grams to moles and moles to grams. That's quite an accomplishment for us because we are in a low-economic rural area that does not generally score high on standardized tests, etc.