Ten Elementary Steps Are Better Than Four

Mechanisms can greatly simplify learning organic chemistry because the hundreds of reactions that students need to know have mechanisms that are constructed from just a handful of distinct elementary steps. This is easy for us professors to see—after all, we’ve been through the year’s reactions and mechanisms multiple times. Students, on the other hand, must … Continue reading Ten Elementary Steps Are Better Than Four

Happy Holidays!

Another semester of teaching the mechanism is over! Last year, Rick Bunt of Middlebury College wrote this festive end-of-the-semester song for his students (sung to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”). It’s so good we thought we’d post it again! You’ve had Spanish and Bio And History and Calc, Physics and Econ And Poly Sci … Continue reading Happy Holidays!

What’s in a NOM? Nomenclature that Actually Makes Sense.

One aspect of Karty’s text that surprised me when I began using the book was the separation of nomenclature into individual sections. My previous experience, going all the way back to my days as a student, was to have the introduction to naming tucked into other material, usually served along side the properties of alkanes, … Continue reading What’s in a NOM? Nomenclature that Actually Makes Sense.

A Famous Pair, and No it isn’t Sonny and Cher

When teaching SN1 and SN2 reactions to my students, this famously difficult duo is made perfectly manageable by breaking down their mechanisms side by side. I always explain to my students that these concepts can be learned and understood much like any of history's great pairs. Like Tom & Jerry, Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum, … Continue reading A Famous Pair, and No it isn’t Sonny and Cher

Life is Hard Enough. Why Teach Alkenes By Function?

One thing I was really looking forward to when switching to Karty’s mechanistically organized text was how reactions involving alkenes would be addressed. I expected to see the reactions simply grouped by mechanism; for example, the electrophilic addition reaction mechanisms would be grouped together, as would the pericyclic reaction mechanisms and so on. Instead, I … Continue reading Life is Hard Enough. Why Teach Alkenes By Function?

Floppity or Floop?

There are a lot of research articles, opinions, blog posts, and conversations about new teaching methods nowadays, and there are a lot of great ideas floating around, but I’m just going to go right out there and say that the prospect of flipping my organic chemistry class terrified me as much as I thought it … Continue reading Floppity or Floop?

In Learning You Will Teach

This is my 2nd year using the Karty text for Organic Chemistry Lecture (CHEM 3111). Based on my experiences as a student and as an instructor, organic chemistry has been typically taught in a traditional format of a chalk talk and PowerPoint combination. However, after speaking with those instructors, such as Joel Karty and fellow … Continue reading In Learning You Will Teach

Too Little? Too Much? Chapter 7 is just Right!

Chapter 7 in Karty’s book struck me as very unique when I first reviewed it. Initially, I considered it to be just an overview chapter that I could breeze through without much thought. After further review, I thought perhaps it covered too much material and would cause students to be confused rather than deepen their … Continue reading Too Little? Too Much? Chapter 7 is just Right!

Organically Gaining Synthetic Expertise

I started teaching Karty’s textbook in my first full-time teaching position, and I am not looking back. At the end of each semester as I review my course plan and think about what worked that semester and what didn’t, I always notice new ways in which this textbook design is smart, student-centered, and ultimately makes … Continue reading Organically Gaining Synthetic Expertise

A New Semester, A fresh Foundation

As a new fall semester dawns, my mind turns inevitably to the fresh crop of students that will soon be struggling with Lewis structures containing many more atoms than they are accustomed to. Teaching at a community college brings some advantages, like having organic students that you have taught through both semesters of the general … Continue reading A New Semester, A fresh Foundation