Saturday, September 28, 2013

a sweet life

organic chemistry for eighth grade

my chalk drawing for the block, 4 feet x 6 feet

What better way to start off the year than with a heaping serving of sugary sweet organic chemistry! Oh those carbohydrates are so much fun! Along with proteins and fats, the students discovered the building blocks and properties of these groups of organic compounds. With saccharades, we studied their solubility and correlated the length of saccharides with their usefulness. Monosaccharides and disaccharides are readily available sources of energy. Polysaccharides such as starch are a stored form of energy. Polysaccharides such as cellulose, the most abundant organic compound in nature - think trees, are insoluble and are a structural form of energy. Trusting the caramelizing propeerty of sugar, we made, well, caramel. We ate chocolate pudding as well, using corn starch as our thickener.

With proteins, we listed their functions and spent some time studying enzymes such as amylase and catalase. We made the analogy that an enzyme is like a maid-of-honor. A maid-of-honor helps along (catalyzes) the transformation of the bride to the wife, and at the end of the ceremony, the maid-of-honor, like an enzyme, does not become part of the product - only the wife gets married to the husband! It works.

We also studied two individuals: Milton Hershey, the captain of chocolate and philanthropist, and Dr. Marie M. Daly, the first African American woman to earn a PhD in chemistry, becoming well-respected as an activist and researcher.

We topped off the block with another sugary sweet favorite: ice cream - which combined carbs, proteins, and fats - yummy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

new crew

teaching the class of 2014

A new year, a new group. I return as eighth grade teacher after graduating the Class of 2013 at Davis Waldorf School. While it may be true that the Waldorf model of teaching is an eight-year journey with your class, it seems in the modern day, this lofty goal is becoming somewhat of an urban legend. Waldorf centers its curriculum on the development of the child, and it follows intuitively that, next to the parents of the children, a teacher who also grows along with the students will be able to fully meet each child in his or her growth. While my biography did not previously include a journey through the grades with this group, I would say that even just four weeks into the school year, I am connecting with them in an unexpected but happy and welcome way.

It may be that the immediate feeling of closeness is due to the fact that I have been on the same campus with them for the past three years.  Or, I'd like to think the synchronicity of unexpected and non-premeditated crossings of paths has its own lively way of bringing people together at just the right moment in time. Maybe they need me, maybe I need them, maybe we just simply hit it off!

Whatever the reasoning may be for this developing bond, I just know that we are heading towards an awesome year of growth, learning, building, doing, being. It's their time.