The Best of ChemMatters: By Teachers, For Teachers

When I was a new teacher I was continually scrambling for good sources of lesson plans. Our textbook and lab materials were only marginally adequate, so I was forced to look for supplements. Going to meetings and conventions always provided an idea or too. But far and away my most valuable source for teaching ideas was my teaching

Given the continuing challenge of finding quality lessons to use in our chemistry classrooms, the timing for the publication of The Best of ChemMatters: Connecting Science and Literacy couldn’t be better. This is especially true as a result of increased expectations to teach literacy as part of our regular science instruction.

This book is a publication of the American Chemical Society Education Division that includes 12 lesson plans for high school science teachers that are based on articles from ChemMatters magazine that were highly rated by readers. Each lesson is designed to help students understand chemistry concepts and improve their science literacy, critical thinking and reading comprehension.

One of the best things about ChemMatters articles is the level of the writing, which is always aimed specifically at high school students. The writers keep in mind the amount of science a typical chemistry student might know and fashion stories around it. Another goal for each ChemMatters story is to relate academic chemistry to what happens in our everyday lives. The Best of ChemMatters accomplishes this and more. The lessons for each article have been carefully crafted by teachers like us. Each lesson:

  • Uses the popular Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate (5E) guided inquiry model.
  • Connects to standards, includes objectives, assessments, possible students preconceptions, lesson outlines, anticipation guides, reading guides and a wealth of related resources.
  • Serves as a springboard for teachers to implement ideas and create lesson plans to help students understand chemistry concepts.

ChemClubs can use the Best of ChemMatters in support of special club activities. You might base a visit to a local elementary school on one of the lessons and use the materials and resources in the lesson to train your students before the presentation. Or, perhaps you might use some of the discussion materials to conduct a mini-seminar for ChemClub members at one of your meetings. A mini-seminar could help enhance the regular learning going on in your classroom with a sort of supercharged homework session.

However you use the Best of ChemMatters, it is sure to be a valuable resource. We would like to hear how you might use this book or get feedback on how you have used it with your ChemClub or regular classes. The book is now available for purchase at the ACS online store.