Day 0, 2019 – the things you need to do BEFORE your first class

Welcome back to Reed. We have an exciting organic chemistry curriculum planned for the 2019-20 editions of Chem 201 and 202, and we will get off to a flying start so here goes…

Reed’s first week of classes is short because Monday is Labor Day. This means that two Chem 201 sessions, the Monday afternoon lecture and the Monday evening lab lecture, cannot meet. And because the course schedule ties the Monday and Tuesday lectures together, the Tuesday, Sept. 3, morning lecture is cancelled too. Our first days (Day 1) of lecture will be Wednesday, Sept. 4, and Thursday, Sept. 5. Your attendance at your scheduled lecture section on Day 1 is absolutely required.

The Labor Day holiday does not impact the lab schedule. Our first (Week 1) lab sessions will meet Tuesday-Friday, Sept. 3-6. Check the schedule for your lab day (Tu/W sections meet 1:10-5 pm, Th/F sections meet 12:30-4:20 pm) and show up in Rm. 209 at the scheduled time or maybe a few minutes earlier.

What will you be doing in lecture and lab? What do you need to do before class and lab so that you are prepared? These are excellent questions and the following instructions will guide you. Note: the following instructions have already been sent to all registered 201 students by email. Read, review, act as your situation requires.

Email #1, sent to all 201 students on Aug. 31, 11:07 pm


And welcome back to Reed and to organic chemistry (Chem 201). We will be sending you 4 emails this holiday weekend and we would like you to read all of them before Tuesday. These emails will tell you just about everything you need to know so that you can be ready for lab this week (meets Tu-F) and lecture.

4 emails may sound like a lot of information (it is) so let us break it down a bit. The emails that follow this one (emails #2-#4) will be sent out as soon as we can put them together. They will focus on preparation for lecture: syllabus, teaching methods & expectations, clickers, and Sapling homework. Highlights from these yet-to-be-written emails:

  • The Tues, Sept 3, 10:30 AM class is canceled. We will begin classroom sessions on Wed, Sept 4, 2:40 PM and this will be followed by Thurs, Sept 5, 10:30 AM. Please attend only the section that you are registered for.
  • Please bring clickers to all lectures beginning on Day 1 (Wed/Thur). Clickers are not needed in lab or lab lecture. Clickers need to be registered online (this involves a subscription purchase as well) before they can be used in class so please take care of this (covered in next email) before Day 1.
  • Registering for Sapling online homework is the least pressing matter of all (we haven’t even had a class yet), but you should take care of signing up for a Sapling account before Friday, Sept 6.

This email (#1) focuses on the Chem 201 lab. Lab will meet every day this week, Tu-F, so read carefully.

Lab lectures

  • in general, you are expected to attend all lab lectures (M 6:10-7 PM, Psych 105). Some of each lab lecture will discuss procedural details for the upcoming week so bring note-taking materials.
  • Lab lecture is cancelled for Monday, Sept 2 (Labor Day)
  • read the following sections of the lab manual in their entirety: Welcome (don’t skip Getting Started – Week #1), Policies (read all pages – most of them are short; Preparing for Lab (including Before week #1) and Notebooks are must-reads)

Lab sessions

For the first lab, come directly to the o chem lab, Rm. 209, on your lab day (attend the section you registered for). Starting times are 1:10 PM Tu/W and 12:30 PM Th/F. Expect to put in a full afternoon so maybe equip yourself with a snack to get you through a long lab session.

  • dress appropriately for lab – you will not be performing any experiments, but you will be in the lab checking apparatus, receiving safety instructions, participating in fire extinguisher training, and also preparing your notebook for the first experiment
  • bring your lab notebook (see Notebooks must-read instruction above), a waterproof pen, whatever you need to read with (glasses, contact lens are both acceptable during week #1)
  • read and follow all of the instructions (if you haven’t done so already) in Preparing for Lab: Before week #1 (this includes reading the Chem 201/2-relevant portions of the Chemistry Safety Manual before your LAB day)

Whew! That should cover things for lab this week. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thank you for taking the time to read this email and to start work.

Now on to email #2…

Alan Shusterman and Alicia McGhee
Chem 201 instructional staff

Email #2, sent to all 201 students on Sept. 2, 8:00 am

This is email #2 in a series of 4 short emails that you will receive this weekend.
This one concerns the lecture part of Chem 201 and covers such things as how to prepare for the first day of class, quiz/exam dates, online resources, and class expectations and how our classroom will actually function (every day will include some sort of lecture, but most class time on most days will be given over to active learning activities).
You will also find a short to-do list below and several links to other documents. I encourage you to get started on the to-do list right away (this means reading the documents M or Tu at the latest, and then making your purchases and gather the materials you need before your first day of class on W/Th Sept 4/5).
To-do list:
#1 Read the attached syllabus in its entirety. It touches on as many aspects of Chem 201 as I could squeeze into 2 pages. It also contains a large number of links to online pages located here (Chem 201 course page) and in our lab manual (Chem 201/2 lab manual). You will be looking at both of these sites many times this semester so there’s no need to visit these sites beyond what is specified in emails #1-#4, but I suggest trying each link at least once to see what is available online.

#2 Prepare for the first lecture (W 2:30, Th 10:30, E314). Note: the lecture on Tu, Sept 3 has been cancelled.

  • buy required materials (textbook, clicker)
  • bring your clicker (see email #3)
  • bring note-taking/writing materials.
    • Notebook. Leave your laptop at home. Organic chemistry involves lots of chemical formulas and you cannot draw these quickly enough on a computer to keep up.
    • Erasable writing implement. Pencil is best. Erasable pens (if you can find one) are good too. Active learning involves problem-solving, that is, proposing answers to questions. If you don’t like your answer, you want to erase it (not scratch it out) and write something better in its place.
  • read these web pages/documents:
    • About our classroom describes the active learning POGIL (process-oriented guided inquiry learning) method that we will be using whenever I am not lecturing (there will be more POGIL than lecture). The presentation is very general, but please read the entire web page (note: the links on this web page are entirely optional reading; follow them only if you have the time and interest)
    • Class Format: Team Learning + Learning Activities is a document that tells you about how the Chem 201 classroom will actually work. It describes the team learning approach we will follow and the documents (learning activities) that I have written for your team to work on. I will go over this material quickly on Day 1 so it really helps if you have already read the entire document ahead of class.
I look forward to meeting you in person,

Email #3, sent to all 201 students on Sept. 2, 10:48 am

(Reading note: This is email #3 in the Day 0 series. Email #1 was sent to you on 8/31 and described our lab meetings for this week and lab policies. Email #2 regarding our syllabus and classroom operations was sent earlier this morning. Please look for these emails and read them first.)

The new business in this email concerns electronic polling devices or “clickers”. I expect you to bring a clicker to every lecture this semester. They are not needed for lab or lab lecture.

The accuracy of your clicker responses will not be graded, but your participation (the number of responses you provide) will have impact your grade (in a relatively small way). I rely on clickers to give me accurate, real-time ideas about how a class thinks about the material we are covering. I do not look at individual answers. So please provide the best quality answers that you can manage for each question. Right or wrong, your best guess is useful to me. After I count the first round of clicks, I will often give the class a chance to discuss answers and click again. More info about grades and clickers can be found here.

QT2 devices only. Chem 201/202 will use the Turning Technology QT2 clickers. These devices have a complete A-Z, 0-9 keypad and LCD display, and they are powered by 2 easily replaceable AAA batteries. If you have some other kind of clicker, or used a mobile device in place of clicker last year in Chem 101/102, you will need to purchase a new QT2 clicker from the Reed College bookstore. You will also need to purchase a one-year subscription and create a student account at the Turning Technologies web site in order to use your clicker (and receive course credit for your clicks).

Cost. A new QT2 clicker + 1-year subscription costs $58 at the bookstore. If you already have a QT2, you can just purchase a 1-year subscription for $25.99. (Note: these are 2018 prices and they may have changed.)

Clicker Returns. If you decide at any time that you no longer need your clicker, you can return yours to the Reed bookstore for some kind of refund. In the past, the bookstore has told me that students “have the first 2 weeks of classes to return the clickers with the receipt for a full refund. The only difference is the subscription code scratch-off must be fully intact. If it has been scratched off we are unable to refund it. After the first 2 weeks it is a 60% refund through November.”

Mobile device app subscription warning: Chem 101/2 students who used their mobile devices as clickers had to download a Turning Technologies app and were able to buy a subscription through the app. This will NOT work for the QT2 clicker. See the instructions provided by the bookstore or the instructions in the attached file.

Where to go next. After you obtain a clicker, open the attached file and set up your student account and start your subscription. It is not enough to just bring a clicker to class. You need an account and a subscription. Otherwise, I won’t be able to give you credit for your responses.

If you are hesitating because you are wavering in your commitment to Chem 201 and the cost of the clicker/subscription are high, that is fine. Hesitate. My grading policy forgives 20% of your clicker responses, that is, you only need to respond to 80% of my clicker questions over the course of the semester to earn full clicker credit. You can hold off on clicking for a few days and suffer no penalties at all.

Clicker advice:
1. Most lectures will pose a clicker question within the first few minutes of class. When you arrive at class, get your device out! Don’t drop it into the bottom of your backpack under your laptop, lunch, raincoat, where it can’t be reached.

2. How you solve an organic chemistry problem matters, even clicker problems. I will be singing the following song all semester long: Organic chemistry is learned and practiced through your fingers, that is, you need to draw structural formulas before you give an answer. The alternative, constructing formulas in your head, is not nearly as effective, and often doesn’t work at all. My recommendation is this: Have your pencil or pen handy when faced with a clicker question. Before you click in your answer, draw the answer(s) you are considering, and look at them. Don’t just stare at the screen and click.

On to email #4…


PS Reminders: Prices and technologies are constantly shifting. The information I have provided here may be out of date. Please let me know if you encounter errors in either prices or set-up instructions, and I will post corrections online. Thank you.

Email #4, sent to all 201 students on Sept. 2, 4:55 pm

This is the fourth and final “Day 0 – getting ready for class” email. {crossed fingers emoji}
It concerns homework so this particular email is a bit lower priority than #1-#3. That said, some preparation and purchases are required so please familiarize yourself with this aspect of the course now.
Graded homework for Chem 201 (and also ungraded practice problems) are delivered through the Sapling Learning (MacMillan Learning subsidiary) online homework system.
Note on practice: Additional ungraded practice problems are listed in your textbook and in the Supplements that I will distribute. Please do as many textbook problems as you can each week!

Sapling provides homework problems that are tailored to specific course topics so you will be seeing assignments for each day that match the topics covered on that day.

Please go to Sapling Learning on the Chem 201 web site to learn about:

  • why the study of organic chemistry is unusually, and also not so unusually, challenging
  • how Sapling online homework assists the study of organic chemistry
  • how to register and enroll in the Sapling system
  • tips for getting the most out of Sapling homework

The homework assignment schedule has not been posted yet, but you will be able to find it on the Homework page next week (I will announce this by email).

How homework is used to calculate your course grade is described in the FAQ page.

Enjoy the rest of weekend.
Alicia and I will see you very soon,
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