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?

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!

An Enlightening Experience

Three years ago, as a first-time teacher, I took over for the previous organic chemistry professor at our university, including the textbook he was using. It was one of the most popular books organized by functional groups. After surviving through my first-year teaching, I sensed that it was confusing mechanistically. Seeing how the reaction worked … Continue reading An Enlightening Experience

Students are Doin’ it for Themselves

As several contributors to this blog have pointed out, Joel Karty’s text introduces biochemistry topics early in the course through supplementary sections at the end of most chapters titled, “The Organic Chemistry of Biomolecules.” Many instructors have lauded this early inclusion of biomolecular topics as a motivator for biology majors and pre-professional students; one that … Continue reading Students are Doin’ it for Themselves

A Racemization Revelation

In my experience, when students are writing a reaction mechanism, the most common error is to form a strong base under acidic conditions or vice versa.  I stress the importance of paying attention to reaction conditions in lecture, but the “function group” based textbook previously used at Western Washington University did not contain a section … Continue reading A Racemization Revelation

The Mechanism Did It!

I finally finished the book last night. In the two years since we adopted Karty, I have taught the first-semester course three times. However, due to the oddities of academic scheduling, this spring was my first time teaching our second-semester course with the text. So, metaphorically speaking, I finally got my chance to find out … Continue reading The Mechanism Did It!

My Surprising Favorite Second-Semester Chapter

My favorite chapter of second-semester organic chemistry is perhaps more surprising to me than anyone else, considering all the great mechanisms and reactions that fill the second-half of Karty's textbook. My enjoyment of Chapter 16 (“Structure Determination 2: Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Mass Spectrometry”) is most likely due to my own experiences analyzing complex … Continue reading My Surprising Favorite Second-Semester Chapter

Karty Makes the Reaction Notebook Easy

A common complaint I have gotten from students for years centers on the “Predict the Products” section of my exams. While they can derive every mechanism for every part of every question (late in second semester, each of my 5-6 Predict the Product questions might have 3-4 reactions in sequence), they don’t have time to … Continue reading Karty Makes the Reaction Notebook Easy