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AP Chemistry at BCCE 2022 – a preview

July 30, 2022

Here’s a little heads up on my best guesses for what will happen at the George R. Hague Memorial AP/IB Chemistry Symposium at BCCE 2022 on Monday, August 1st. Maybe I’ll be very wrong; maybe not, we’ll see.

Inner Strength: Why do acids break up?. K.L. Hendren

My guess is this a direct addressing of 8.6 in the CED. It’s no doubt routinely, poorly understood by students and indeed teachers, but there really is no mystery here. It boils down to electronegativity or resonance delocalizing the electron density around the anion, to make it less attractive to the dissociated H+, and therefore keeping them dissociated and increasing strength (or the opposite when discussing electron releasing R groups). I mean, that’s it! The problem teachers (and therefore students) get into here, is that they want to give a deeper explanation, and sometimes actually attempt to unravel things like the inductive effect when that is absolutely unnecessary. AP’s continued aversion to organic chemistry also hinders things a bit here, but if one takes a pragmatic approach and shuns deep understanding for what one needs to know, this becomes an unchallenging topic. Another example of state of mind and pragmatism over a teaching philosophy of “deep understanding”. We will see a big(ger) empahsis on 8.6 soon?

Kinetics Activities that Promote a Particle Collisions Point of View. A. Snyder

The CB have become absolutely obsessed with particle representations since the re-write of the CED, and this could just be an extension of what’s been going on for years in that regard. However, I will say this. Way back in 2015 I edited this post (final three paragraphs) to include my thoughts about the changing nature of the way orientation might be examined. I’m interested in this topic only because we need to know if, at some time in the future, “correct orientation of the reacting particles” is going to be sufficient, OR if we need something more specific. Now, we’ve seen the need to look at specific orientation on MCQs in the past (Q47 from the 2018 IPE for example), but that’s not my worry, rather my concern is will we ever get to a point on a FRQ where an answer that talks about the specific orientation in a specific reaction will be required.

Just a droplet in the bucket of AP Chemistry; equilibrium, acid/base reactions, and thermodynamics all in one microscale chemistry experiment. R. Johnson

Ahhh … micro-scale, another small obsession in the edubabble world, but I’m all up for a quick demo that can be used to illustrate a few concepts IF it works well (meaning it introduces zero ambiguity) and IF it can be used at an appropriate time to coincide with my installation of theory into the children. I’m curious how thermochemistry is going to be integrated into equilibrium and acid-base in this context, maybe it’s Gibbs, maybe just shifting equilibrium with ∆H°, maybe something else, but I’m likely to keep all of that a little distanced from the others. We’ll see. If I say nice things about it, maybe Ryan will unblock me on Twitter … actually, don’t bother.

Claim Evidence Reasoning (CER) in the AP Chemistry Classroom using a Smartphone Spectroscopy Beer’s Law and Rate Law Experiments. A. Schmidt

This is an odd title to me, more obsessive edubabble (CER) seems to be inserted in order to justify a potential useful experiment, but of course that forcing has been something we’ve been living with for a long time. Using phones for this purpose has been around for years and years such as this and this so I’m not sure what will be new here.

Pattern Investigations in AP Chemistry. J. Brown

Periodicity? I’m not sure what ‘investigations’ means in this context, but there is a real lack of “activities” around this topic (if indeed periodicity is the context). Having said that, as is usual with me, I see no need for “activities” wether they be wet or dry in nature, to deliver this topic. If I say nice things about it, maybe Johanna will unblock me on Twitter … actually, don’t bother.

Using Student Misconceptions as a Guide to Create Assessment Items for AP Chemistry. M. Farabaugh

I’ve read/seen presentations similar to this one (or at least versions of it) in the past from Michael Farabaugh (also see this), and they mostly amounted to stating the obvious to me. Guess what, in order to write good AP MCQs you have to have carefully designed wording, carefully designed distractors, and in the case of calculations that means “feasible” wrong answers? Well, yeah, that’s MCQ writing 101. With the changes in calculator policy this will be even easier going forward on AP MCQs, so I’m not sure what new I’ll learn here. Student misconceptions are an interesting area, and they’ve formed a large part of my Summer Workshops for years, that includes a document originally generated (but now massively expanded upon) by a former chief examiner. It should be noted that Michael is worth listening to if for no other reason that of late he has become the polar opposite of me, i.e., a darling of the CB. In that regard he has an inside track, and that’s always worth keeping an eye on.

AP Readiness: an access and equity program. M.A. Morgan

Michael Morgan is a good guy. Part of what he’s been doing in Los Angeles for many years is central to his own mission and philosophy regarding teaching, and it’s to be admired. Access and equity are also HUGE issues for the College Board, but as a chemistry teacher at the opposite end of Michael’s mindset, it’s nothing that I am interested in. This is probably a session for teachers who are interested in impacting students in ways that I simply am not. I want to teach chemistry. It should also be noted that it’s in the interest of the College Board in terms of pure $ to get as many people into AP exams, so there’s that …

Implementing best practices to improve scores on the AP Chemistry exam. J. Benigna

Has Jamie been to my Summer Workshops? If he had been, he’d know that an obsession with teaching to the test, and a focus ONLY on answering AP problems is the key to this. If you really want a heads up on this topic, please join me in one of my summer workshops, the final of which for 2022 starts on 7/31/22.

College Board resources and updates for AP Chemistry. J. Benigna

Pimping of the revised calculator policy, AP classroom changes, and videos etc. Given the way that the College Board website works (or more accurately often doesn’t), it’s a hard sell for Jamie. I don’t envy his job here. Shame they still haven’t corrected the use of SSA in the CED. Oh well.

Review of the 2022 AP Chemistry Exam. K.A. Beran, J. Benigna Q&A with Chief Reader, Development Committee, and College Board. K.A. Beran, J. Benigna

Interested to hear the new chief examiner, but of course the only way one can get that job is by being a company man, so I don’t expect to hear anything that I don’t already know. Trevor Packer has already identified Question 5 as “difficult” and “tough”. From a AP Chemistry point of view that’s patently, and demonstrably untrue, but he’ll point to the poor scoring on the question. I’ll point to the fact that, as usual, approaching 50% of the kids that took the exam failed. That’s because there are literally thousands and thousands of kids taking this exam that have zero intellectual business doing so. Having these kids study AP chemistry really is a dumb decision by the teachers and parents, but hey, here we are in the dysfunctional US education system. Do everyone a favor and stop placing intellectually inferior students into advanced/college classes as high school students – it makes zero sense.

My analysis of, comments on, and draft answers to the 2022 released exam can be found here.

Q&A with Chief Reader, Development Committee, and College Board. K.A. Beran, J. Benigna

This is the part of the program where nobody will answer my questions, so I don’t bother any longer. Here’s what I would ask, if I thought it was worthwhile.

Why did the College Board not freely acknowledge that in 2020 and 2021, students could have ANYONE in the room with them taking the exam, and therefore the scores from those years are invalid?

Why not fix the SSA problem in the CED?

Why not add point values to the question paper? The excuse that this has to wait until the reading has always been bogus, and now that we know the Qs 1-3 are 10 points each, and that Q 4-7 are 4 points each, there is absolutely no reason NOT to do this.

Why not have an official WRITTEN policy on sig figs? We know the basics, but why not state this unequivocally?

What drove the change in MCQ calculator policy for 2023? I’m curious about this because the reason previously stated for the old policy involved equity, and the new policy would seem to fly in the face of the CB’s obsession with that. Interesting.

If you really value lab work, why not have a lab exam like AP and IB did for years? Put your money where your mouth is, until then the CB clearly does NOT, ‘value lab work’.

If you’re going to be there and would like to ask any of these questions on my behalf, I’ll be in the room listening, and would be delighted if you would help me out – thanks! I’ll be the one NOT wearing a #nerdytshirt and here’s how to recognize me.

I’ll break down the AP de-brief and what actually happens in symposium next week on the blog.


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