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Traditional vs Modified Schedule for AP by Dale Jensen

Dale  JensenDale Jensen AP Instructor

Dale Jensen taught  Chemistry  and  Physics  in  Oregon  at  North  Medford High School for 33 years.  When he retired,  Dale became  active  conducting  various  workshops for  the  College  Board.    But  teachers  must  teach,  so  Dale  took  a  job  teaching  Chemistry and  Physics  at Syracuse  High  School  in  Utah.  When  his  father in law’s  health  brought him  back  to  Oregon,  Dale was offered a  position at  St.  Mary’s High School.

Dale  has  enjoyed  teaching  AP  Physics;  teaching  AP Chemistry;  being  active  as  a  Reader/Table  Leader;  and  working  as  a  consultant  for  the College  Board  conducting  weekend  and  week-long  workshops.    In  2007,  Dale  was appointed  and  served  on  the  SAT  Test  Development  Committee  for  the  Chemistry specific  test.  In  2014,  Dale  presented  a  two day  AP  Chemistry  workshop  in  Xiame, China.

Step 1:  Between the start of your school year and the AP Chemistry Exam (usually early May) you must develop a plan to cover a full year of college level Chemistry – including the AP recommended labs.  It starts with pulling out your school calendar. What I like to do is block out all Sundays, holidays, no class days (block scheduling), and … notice I do not block out Saturdays.  These may be used for review and labs.  What you should be left with are the ‘teaching’ days that you have between the start of school and the exam.

Step 2:  Next decide the sequence that you want to teach.  Traditionally, you follow the textbook/flash drive that you have.  Begin with Chapter 1 and plan to go thru the chapters that the author has laid out. This approach has been successful for many teachers and their students.

Alternatively, a new approach has been growing in popularity.  After beginning with the Gas Laws, do the second half of your book first. 

Let me give you the sequence of each:

Traditional Alternative
Review Nomenclature and Stoichiometry Review Nomenclature and Stoichiometry
Reaction Products Gas Laws
Thermochemistry Kinetic
Atomic Structure Equilibrium
Periodic Table Acid-Base Equilibria
Chemical Bonding Solubility Equilibria
Molecular Geometry and Hybridization Thermodynamics (include Thermochemistry)
Intermolecular Forces Electrochemistry
Solution Properties Atomic Structure
Gas Laws Periodic Table
Kinetic Chemical Bonding
Equilibrium Molecular Geometry and Hybridization
Acid-Base Equilibria Intermolecular Forces
Solubility Equilibria Solution Properties
Thermodynamics Reaction Products
Electrochemistry Review
Review Exam – May --
Exam – May --

Let me first start by stating that AP CHEMISTRY SHOULD BE A SECOND YEAR COURSE.  This comes directly from the latest College Board publications.  I am aware that there are many ‘interesting’ schedules that have been devised by schools to have AP Chemistry be the first course, but for the moist part, Chemistry is such an abstract topic that most students need the time to fully grasp the concepts.

The topic can be broken into two categories – Memorization and Mathematical:

Mathematical Memorization
Review Nomenclature and Stoichiometry Review Nomenclature and Stoichiometry
Gas Laws Atomic Structure
Kinetic Periodic Table
Equilibrium Chemical Bonding
Acid-Base Equilibria Molecular Geometry and Hybridization
Solubility Equilibria Intermolecular Forces
Thermodynamics (include Thermochemistry) Solution Properties
Electrochemistry Reaction Products

The traditional sequence may be easier for the new teacher and for many students to follow, but starting with the Mathematical topics allows for more review throughout the year and places the Memorization topics where they belong.  The Memorization topics are basically a review of the first year course. 

One should also look at what happens at the end of the school year, just before the test.  State testing, students visiting colleges, spring sports, and other courses take your students out of your class.

If you feel comfortable with ALL of the AP Chemistry topics, I recommend looking at the Alternative sequence. 

When planning out the 2011-2012 school year, I suggest that if you are following the Traditional sequence, be ready to start Kinetics after the Christmas (Winter) break.  If you are following the Alternative sequence, be ready to start Atomic Structure.

Two topics are not found in either sequence – Nuclear and Organic Chemistry.  These are great topics for the Christmas (Winter) Break and Spring Break.

Finally, I like to put Reaction Products at the end.  With the new format of Question 4, this becomes a great review of the course.  Students are now asked to write must balance their net ionic reactions and answer a question that finds its roots in acid-base, redox, thermodynamics, or …

One final thought.  Leave time for lab.  In the recent years, the AP Chemistry test is requiring more lab knowledge and skill.  Do not short change your students.  Give them a rich lab experience.  The two lab manuals that I use:

  • AP Lab Experiments by Sally Vonderbrink (Flinn Publishing)
  • AP Lab Experiments by David Hostage and Martin Fossett (Peoples Publishing)
For this first unit, I recommend the following labs:
  • Sally Vonderbrink:     Finding the Ratio of Moles of Reactants in a Chemical Reaction
  • Hostage/Fossen:     Job’s Method of Continuous Variation

How to Utilize High School Chemistry for A.P. Achievement

If at all possible, each student should be given or be required to purchase a copy of the flash drive. Within the first 2 weeks of class, Inorganic Nomenclature and Stoichiometry should be reviewed and tested.  This is true if you use the Traditional or the Alternative sequence.  This should be a time of review. It is important that your students have a solid background going into the upcoming AP Chemistry topics.  The recommendations are the minimum that your students should do for each of these topics.  I think you will find that your students will do more after they see the interactivity of the DVD.

Inorganic Nomenclature - 

Chapter 1: Atoms, Molecules and Ions

Begin with 1.17 Concept of Ion (Part 1)
Students should work thru section 1.47 Periodic Table (Molecular Compounds with Polyatomic ions and Hydrogen)

Stoichiometry –

Chapter 3: Mass Relations in Formulas and Chemical Reactions

Be sure students go thru 3.11 Percent Composition, 3.13 Empirical Formula, and 3.17 Molecular Formula

Chapter 4: Amounts, Stoichiometry and Reactions in Aqueous Solutions

I recommend the students review the entire chapter.

As the instructor, during class you should review Inorganic Nomenclature and Stoichiometry topics.  Teacher generated worksheets and an exam should be included in your overall lessons.

Good luck and enjoy the upcoming AP Chemistry year.