Written by Ms. Berman
I wish everyday in the classroom could feel like today. I have my daughters to thank for this one. They are both going through reflective periods at the moment, which typically triggers "comfort" strategies, whether it be eating a frozen yogurt or reading a family favorite such as Ender's Shadow. Somehow this catalyzed my decision to make this "popcorn and hot chocolate" day. The rain certainly added to the ambiance. When I first made the announcement, K. was incredulous. Initially I couldn't read her response and then I realized that she wasn't sure if I was joking or not. "I never tease when it comes to teenagers and food," I later told her. "Teachers just don't do this," she replied. (She hasn't taken AVID with Mrs. James yet.)
There is this thing called California State Standards that kicks off my moral compass every time I come up with one of my atypical ideas. But life has a way of working out, especially when teaching intelligent students. CST Standard 6c: Students know temperature, pressure, and surface area affect the dissolving process. Okay, I can disseminate just about anything and my students will grasp, process, and memorize it. But near the end of our review session for the upcoming exam, everything came together when L. said, "Hey, so solubility relates to the hot chocolate... we heat it up so it will dissolve faster!" This lead to the fact that the hot chocolate comes in powered form in order to increase the surface area to volume ratio, also increasing solubility. "I'm going to make a free response question about hot chocolate," I told the class. "You just wrote part of the exam." I don't think they knew I was serious. So CST 6c, you're not so bad after all. Real life application. Works every time.
Even more important, however, was the change in the mood of the students as they stood around drinking their hot chocolate, thrilled with the fact that I bought the type with mini marshmallows. What was it about having popcorn and hot chocolate that made the day feel so special? Was it the ten minute break in the routine of high school? Was it the element of surprise? Was it eating those delicious comfort foods? Or was it just knowing that someone cared enough to say with their actions, "Hey, you got out of bed today, came to school in the rain, faced the rigor of Honors Chemistry, and that makes you amazing?" Yes, I wish everyday in the classroom could feel like today.