Has It Really Been Six Years?: Part II

Context Is Everything! So, coming back to the gray-hair issue that I mentioned in last week’s post, I have been teaching for long enough that sometimes I need to take a step back and remind myself that most of my students don’t know very much chemistry, especially not the chemistry of their day-to-day lives. This … Continue reading Has It Really Been Six Years?: Part II

Has It Really Been Six Years?: Part I

I have a photo of me and my oldest son taped to a shelf in my office. In the picture, I’m holding him up and we’re wearing matching red bandanas. He was about 3-years-old at the time (he's 13 now), and I had a full head of bright red hair. But today, it’s almost all … Continue reading Has It Really Been Six Years?: Part I

Online Teaching with Karty’s Text and Smartwork

In my previous post, I wrote about the benefits of teaching organic chemistry with a mechanistic organization. Now, with the COVID-19 virus crossing our country and universities going online in response, I’d like to share how I am using Karty's textbook, bundled with Smartwork’s online homework system, to move my organic chemistry course online. Several years ago, when the first edition of … Continue reading Online Teaching with Karty’s Text and Smartwork

Maintaining Pace As We Evolve Online: Lesson #1

Let me preface this post by saying that I believe all chemistry is best learned in a kinesthetic, interactive, face-to-face environment; where faculty and students can synchronously engage in a philosophical debate over electrostatic attractions, reaction energetics, and product probability. Don’t even get me started on the laboratory experience. You’ve got concerns about academic rigor? … Continue reading Maintaining Pace As We Evolve Online: Lesson #1

COVID-19 & Continuing Instruction

In lieu of recent events, my colleague and I will continue to concurrently teach our “flipped classroom.” The flipped classroom enables instructors to designate time during class for facilitating directed problem-solving sessions and activities with undergraduate students. The Organic Chemistry curricula will utilize online lecture videos, active reading assignments, and interactive projects. The unique features … Continue reading COVID-19 & Continuing Instruction

Eliminating Preconceived Fears

Organic chemistry has always been the course you would hear rumors about “breaking students” or “crushing students’ medical-field dreams.” This preconceived fear creates a learning barrier for students before they even enter the classroom. I’ve personally known good students with great potential who’ve given up on their future careers just because of organic chemistry. Our … Continue reading Eliminating Preconceived Fears

A Mechanistic Organization

I have been using Karty’s Organic Chemistry: Principles and Mechanisms textbook since the first edition was published in 2014, and it has made a dramatic improvement in my two-semester organic chemistry lecture. After teaching organic chemistry for two decades employing typical organic textbooks, which all organized topics by functional groups, Karty’s textbook was a breath … Continue reading A Mechanistic Organization

Rules of Thumb

Nearly every semester, I am asked a question that I’ve never been asked before. I have found that by giving students some rules of thumb (ROTs), I can help them understand the basics while also giving them specific strategies for solving organic chemistry problems. More recently, I’ve recognized that the mechanistic organization helps enforce my … Continue reading Rules of Thumb

The Far-Reaching Benefits of Teaching Organic Chemistry According to Mechanism

In my experience, the traditional method of teaching organic chemistry courses according to functional group often leads students to rely on memorization. For example, a single chapter on alkyl halides may include substitution reactions, radical reactions, and additions to alkenes. With such a large volume of information, it’s very difficult for students to manage and … Continue reading The Far-Reaching Benefits of Teaching Organic Chemistry According to Mechanism

A Great Teaching Moment with Aromatic Substitution Reactions

One of my favorite teaching moments throughout the entire year comes in Chapter 23, when, in the same lecture period, we examine aromatic substitution reactions proceeding through three different intermediates: arenium ion intermediates (first reaction below), Meisenheimer complexes (second reaction below), and benzyne intermediates (third reaction below). I love this as a teaching moment because … Continue reading A Great Teaching Moment with Aromatic Substitution Reactions