Kicking-Off the Second Semester with Synthesis

At Elon, we have a January term in which we predominantly teach nontraditional courses (organic chemistry is not one of those courses). This means my students have about seven weeks between their last day of Organic 1 in the fall and their first day of Organic 2 in the spring. Because of such a significant gap, I’ve frequently wondered what the best topic would be to kick-off the second semester. My decision has been different just about every year I have taught (typically rearranging chapters in the textbook to match my decision), but this year I think I’ve settled on one that I really like: strategies in designing syntheses. In Organic 1, our focus is on structure and stability, reaction mechanisms, predicting products, and very simple syntheses. By beginning Organic 2 with synthesis strategies, I was able to carve out some significant time for my students to review the reactions and mechanisms we learned in first semester, while learning new and necessary material for second semester. Moreover, my students genuinely had a vested interest in doing that review, I think because they could see how beneficial it was to the topic at hand. Now, just past halfway through Organic 2, I feel that my students and I are benefiting quite a lot from that momentum we gained from the review at the start of the semester. This decision seems to be a keeper.

-Joel Karty

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