This is critical week when teaching science because students start to feel overwhelmed. In any science class there is new vocabulary and new syntax. So how to you express a chemical reaction as an algebraic equation that has meaning beyond the mathematical solution. How can we see if the result obtained from solving the arithmetic relationship makes sense in "our world" in our language?
So at this moment in our course I pause and take some time to make sure that all are onboard, that we have some homogeneity in the level or degree of understanding, especially important when students come from a diverse background. The three main tools I use for this purpose are: face to face conversation allotting time for a one-to-one 15 minute talk during lab time; online questionaire through our Moodle site where they have to reply to a survey; and thrirdly through a practice or sample test I have posted on our iLearn site and they have access too.
At this time making the enphatic statement that they are in control of their learning becomes the focus of their education.