In today’s class, I spoke about the value of retrosynthesis, which allows chemists to view mechanisms and organic reactions from their products to their starting material. Typically, students are not keen on retrosynthesis because: 1). the word is scary, and students are introduced to many other difficult-sounding concepts while learning it, and 2). the process … Continue reading Forward vs. Backward: How Do You Get Students Interested in Retrosynthesis?
When teaching mechanisms, I try to impress upon my students that the concepts tied to mechanisms are not confined to the chapters that they appear in within the Karty text, but rather, that they are a continuation of connected topics across the discipline as a whole. Today’s class focused on Sections 13.1-13.3, which elaborate on … Continue reading Everything Is Connected: Teaching Organic Chemistry as a Unified Story through Mechanisms
As teachers, we are expected to be the experts in our subjects. But the act of learning itself is a constantly evolving process, which is why I find it refreshing when my students ask smart questions and suggest alternative perspectives to keep me on my toes in class. We have recently transitioned from the electrophilic … Continue reading Asking Better Questions: When Students Become the Teacher
Chapter 11 of the Karty text focuses on electrophilic addition along pi bonds. This can be a tough topic to tackle. The terms themselves can scare students, which is why I've found that it is key to break down the words into smaller chunks, especially for elementary steps. In the text, a variety of electrophilic … Continue reading The Teeter-Totter Method: Helping Students Visualize Electrophiles and Nucleophiles
As college instructors, we are fortunate to begin each semester with a fresh start, and Spring 2021 will be no different. In fact, this current semester already poses its own unique set of questions for me and my students as we plan to return to campus. How can we interact together safely? And how can … Continue reading The Transition from Online Classes Back to In-Person Classes
The year is 2020. I have spent the majority of the year at home with my two kids managing Zoom meetings and PPE-clad trips to the (wastelands to scavenge for toilet paper) grocery store. An idea forms: what if I gave my organic chemistry students essay assignments? While writing in the sciences is nothing unusual, … Continue reading Essays in Organic Chemistry
Imagine a world where all of your organic students read their textbooks thoroughly, ask you questions, and come to office hours every week...the wildest of fantasy worlds, right? Well, I’m an optimist—what can I say? So when forced to create an all-online version of my mechanisms-focused organic chemistry course, I thought I would see how … Continue reading What If Every Student Went to Office Hours?
Now that the Fall 2020 semester has mostly wrapped up, we will be taking a month off from posting on our Teach the Mechanism blog to enjoy this year's winter festivities as safely as we can. During this brief hiatus, though, we will still be open to blog submissions for the Spring 2021 semester. Even … Continue reading Happy Winter Break!
Teaching labs online this fall has been quite unique. I am one of many instructors who has struggled with how best to instruct my students, particularly because labs require hands-on learning that can be difficult to simulate through a screen. However, my colleagues and I were inspired from our rapid transition to online classes this … Continue reading How to Conduct a Lab Course amidst a Pandemic?
Chapters 6-10 incrementally ramp up the types of things we hold students accountable for when it comes to reactions. Chapters 6 and 7 introduce students to the 10 most common elementary steps. Chapter 8 deals with constructing multistep mechanisms in reasonable ways. In Chapter 9, students learn how to predict the outcome of SN1/SN2/E1/E2 competition. … Continue reading Coaching Students in the Transition from Chapter 9 to Chapter 10