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Westminster Parents Class Rotation Night – Sept. 2012

September 10, 2012

Welcome! Thanks for being here this evening, your valuable time is much appreciated by me, and your ongoing support of your children’s education is crucial to our collective, academic success.

My name is Adrian Dingle and I will be taking care of your children’s chemistry needs during this academic year. 2012-13 represents my 13th year at Westminster, and my 23rd year of teaching high school and college 101 chemistry in total. In addition to my teaching, tutoring and speaking experience, I have a pretty successful career as a published author in the junior chemistry genre.

Anyone who has heard my accent knows that I am ‘not from around here’. My home is England, but I am married to an American lady and I have lived in the US for over 12 years. She is from New York, so she insists that I am more acclimatized, and that I’m treated better than her in the south – ‘at least I’m not a Yankee’!

Before I came to the US I taught for 10 years in and around greater London, in four different educational establishments (public school, private school and two tutorial colleges). Despite living and working here for over a decade, and having been married to an American for a lot longer than that, because I was educated by (and taught for ten years in), the British education system, there are a still a few foibles that come with my cultural background. These things can take a bit of getting used to. For example, I grade all of the homework that I set for accuracy (not simply for completeness), and I when I refer to football I’m talking about the game that you play with your feet! I’m also very, very conscious of exam preparation (in the case of my AP classes), and I strongly believe that aluminium only has one correct spelling! Even so, I hope that there aren’t too many English Eccentricities that you won’t be able to get your head around after just a few minutes of talking with me.

It is true that I’m certainly a traditional educator in as much as I believe that the cornerstones of success both inside and outside of the chemistry classroom for the kids and for me, are likely to be built on a few, unswerving, fundamental principles. Hard work, discipline, accountability, a lack of ambiguity, organization, performance and content knowledge are all central to success in my classes, but at the same time I am a teacher who has always been deeply interested and connected to technology during the whole of my career. A few examples of my ‘tech connections’ are illustrated by (but not limited to) the fact that;

I have had a web site since 1998; I have been active on Twitter for several years; I write regularly for an online education provider; I have been blogging since 2006.

Regardless of whether your child is in either of my AP classes (course 1 with 20 students or course 3 with 13 students), or my Honors class (course 5 with 11 students), you can find just about every detail of every aspect of either class on my web site at adriandingleschemistrypages.com.

The first two documents that might be of interest to you are the introductions to each course that can be found here (for AP), and here (for Honors). These documents give some nuts and bolts and general information.

There is a very large amount of data on the web site and you can browse the whole site at your leisure (should you choose to!), but for now, let’s take a very quick look at what you can find on the individual course pages that list the specifics of the course that I teach.

If you are interested in my AP class, on the front page of the web site, under the heading of ‘Advanced Placement Chemistry’ on the far left hand side, click on ‘AP COURSE 12-13‘.

If you are interested in my Honors class, on the front page of the web site underneath the heading of ‘Honors Chemistry’, click on ‘HONORS COURSE 12-13‘.

Once you have done either of those things, you will be taken to the appropriate course page.

Here’s what the AP Course page looks like when you get there;

Here’s what the Honors Course page looks like when you get there;

From there things are pretty self-explanatory, and follow the same format for any course that I teach. There are horizontal rows that collect the resources for each TOPIC that we study. Each TOPIC has six columns, that reading from left to right include the following information;

1. Notes and web links that provide the content information for the TOPIC.

2. A list of homework assignments that must be turned in by the due date, and that will be grade for accuracy (not completion or ‘trying’).

3. A date and link to a Study Guide for the Test

4. A list of Labs with the dates that they will be performed.

5. A list of supplemental reading and problems from a chosen text.

NOTE: There is NO required textbook for the AP or the Honors course, and the references to the text a strictly only there for comfort and peace of mind should any students feel that they need more information or simply another source of knowledge and practice problems.

6. A Toolbox with lots of other good stuff that will help in the study of each TOPIC.

All of your child’s grades are accessible 24/7/365 via the online service provided by www.engrade.com. Each child has been issued with a username and password. Please liaise with them if you wish to access that information. If you have any issues with grades, do not hesitate to drop me an email.

The Honors course will be a challenge for some students, but the AP chemistry class, taught to sophomores in one year (instead of as the College Board recommends as a second year course after a whole year of introductory chemistry), can be especially demanding, even for the brightest and the best. Students in this class often find themselves needing to re-define ‘success’ – realizing that grades of 90%+ are not the norm as they may have been in other classes, that what they thought was hard work in the past takes on a significant new meaning, and that working harder might just be helping them to maintain a grade rather than dramatically improving one (statistics suggest that we generally see a measurable average grade drop when kids move from Honors physics to AP chemistry). This, ‘new normal’, can be difficult at first (for both parents and students), but those who adjust (in both groups) are the ones that thrive in the AP class.

Well, what about the good news? Is there any? A resounding ‘YES’! The overwhelming majority of kids that leave the AP class reflect on it with enormous gratitude and value the experience no matter how hard it was at the time. Sometimes that gratitude is a little begrudgingly given, and it rarely comes in the immediate aftermath, but most nearly every kid looks back on the class and says, ‘WOW! It kicked my rear end, but it was a tremendously valuable experience’. This is almost always true regardless of whether they leave with the best grade they have ever achieved in high school, or the worst; and there are kids that fall into both groups! It’s that sort of reaction that gives me great satisfaction and a sense of well-being knowing that we are serving the students well in their academic endeavors and setting them up for future academic success.

That’s about it, but just one more thing. There is a very simple Google form here that will take approx. 15 seconds to complete, and that I would be VERY happy if you would kindly fill in. Thanks in advance. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me, and thanks for coming this evening.

Adrian Dingle, September 2012


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