kitchen table math, the sequel: help desk: chemistry

Sunday, February 18, 2007

help desk: chemistry

My sister is studying animal science, and she failed chem last year. She's only got one more chance to retake it (next semester) before she fails the course. So she wants to get started on it so that she can pass this time round.

I thought there was a Saxon Chemistry (after all, there is a Saxon Physics) but there isn't. Julie really liked the fact that you're always practicing what you've done before, as while she is incredibly smart she has memory problems. So she can learn it all, but unless it is practiced to automaticy she's got less chance than an average learner, because she's got no memory.

So, what are some good books for her to use? I don't know how mathematically heavy the course is, but probably not very. But we need some materials that she can work on alone and learn enough chem to pass and hopefully enough to pass well.

Any ideas?

Samantha (aka Sam-is-mad)


Catherine Johnson said...

Good question!

I want to know, too.

I think I came across a self-teaching chem book the other day...looked like a good series if I can remember it (speaking of memory problems - )

hang on

Catherine Johnson said...

Chemistry: A Self-Teaching Guide by Clifford Houk

This one has fantastic reviews - I'd buy it on the strength of the reviews.

I would also check out the various Regents test prep books; they can be pretty good.

Catherine Johnson said...

Here is a page of Regents chem books.

Catherine Johnson said...

Chemistry Problem Solver by A. Lamont Tyler

Catherine Johnson said...

search terms:

"programmed instruction"

"Keller method"

Anne Dwyer said...


I am assuming this is first semester inorganic chemistry. Since your sister took chemistry before, she should have reviewed the tests. She should know what she had trouble with. The tests should give the answer as to whether she had trouble memorizing facts, understanding concepts, doing the calculations for the problems or all three.

Also, she should check with her school to see if there is some type of tutoring program for 'at risk' students. This can be for students who have failed the class before. That way, she can get a tutor right at the beginning of the semester who can help her with anything she doesn't understand.

Sam(antha) said...

She's already 'at risk' (she was before she entered, due to her memory problems and motor skill problems etc), and had a tutor last semester. Didn't help (enough).

Mum is going through her tests to figure out what she needs to work on, but I gather from Julie and the few of her friends that I know that what she needs to work on is... everything. Hence the desire for some studying to be done before second semester (just as first semester starts - yay).

Catherine Johnson said...

oh boy, that's a tall order

once she reaches automaticity does she remember things?

I'm assuming the answer is yes -- ??

This raises an issue I hadn't quite thought about in as focused a way as I should have.

A friend of mine has a son who is classified as VERY high-end special ed. "VERY" meaning that she's only managing to keep the classification by dint of pushing the district hard.

She keeps telling me that the people who test him say he has memory problems. I'm sure that's true, but how much are his memory problems a function of the school's teaching.

This kid has a knack for math and a strong interest in it - so strong that he was moved up out of "Phase 2" into regular track.

I don't think he's where he should be, though. He was in my Singapore Math class and after THREE fast facts sheets from Saxon his math facts speed zoomed. It was incredible. This was widely distributed practice, too; it was from one week to another.

The first time he did a fast facts sheet with me it took him....possibly around 10 minutes (for a 5-minute sheet).

He has very slow and precise handwriting (the multisensory teacher, who has now left the district, taught PERFECT handwriting to her classes).

I applaud the handwriting, but I thought it was a problem so I wrote the answers the next time.

He cut his time to something like 7 minutes.

The third time he did one of the sheets he wanted to write it himself and he came in under 5 minutes!

It was amazing.

I keep thinking that if this boy were taught to mastery ON EVERYTHING, he'd be zooming.

From afar, that sounds like the best plan for your sister. Purchase a self-teaching manual and "overlearn" everything.

I'll have to see if I can find the Dan Willingham article on overlearning.

Sam(antha) said...

That's pretty much Julie. Brilliantly smart but NO memory. She HAS to overlearn for something to stick.

Catherine Johnson said...

Brilliantly smart but NO memory. She HAS to overlearn for something to stick.

That's fascinating.

How does overlearning work for her?

Once she overlearns something does it stick?

Also: does she have the equivalent of "word-finding" problems?

Do you know?

(I'm thinking of the kind of memory impairment you get with age, where you can't remember people's names. The names are obviously there, in long-term memory, but you can't retrieve them.)

btw, I think "word-finding problems" is a different I may have used the term wrong.

What I'm talking about (I realize) is: problems with retrieval.

Is that an issue?

The material is inside your head, but you can't retrieve it.