Doing labs the Write way

29 Jul

I like things that make my life easy. I like things that make my students’ lives easy. Things that do both? Pure awesomeness. And so it is with LabWrite.

You can't go wrong with LabWrite

I spent my first couple of years as a teacher “experimenting” with various styles of lab reports and lab notebooks. Sometimes grading makes me grumpy. Often times, the quality of these reports sucked was less than satisfactory. This made me grumpier. Then it was time to grade more labs. It was a vicious cycle of grumpiness.

I have only myself to blame. If you haven’t entirely bought into the set of “rules” for reporting on labs that you’re giving to your kids, your students sure as hell won’t. Annual tweaks to the guidelines or rubric helped a bit, but at some point you can’t polish a turd. Switching to LabWrite last year made my life easier, helped students understand the process of science better, and helped me lose 30 lbs in 30 days! (Ok, I made that last part up)

Here’s why I’m digging LabWrite:

  • Intuitively organized into sections – PreLabInLabPostLab
  • Each item is defined and clearly explained
  • Detailed, but still flexible for different types of labs e.g. inquiry-based, hypothesis w/ predetermined procedure, demonstration labs, etc
  • The interactive tutor guides the writing process for each section of the report with questions to probe student thinking
  • Most importantly, students enjoy using it (eventually) and the quality of labs compared to previous years is WAY better.

I’ll quit talking it up (until NC State starts showin me the $) and let you check it out on your own.

Anyone used this for Chemistry or Physics classes? I’m interested to hear your feedback. I picked up a section of Chemistry for this coming fall and would like to use it for Chem labs as well…thoughts?

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2 Responses to “Doing labs the Write way”

  1. Chris Ludwig July 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    Thanks for the reminder about LabWrite. With so many tools, some of them junk, out on the web, its easy to lose the good ones in the shuffle. I used LabWrite for the first time last year with my AP Biology students and have wanted, like you, to try it with my other preps. I bet it will work with Chemistry, as long as we get away from the cookbook-type labs that often get done. I hope to figure out ways to make my labs more open-ended which would really help with writing decent lab reports using LabWrite.

    • benpaulson July 29, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

      Agreed. I’m excited to teach chemistry this year and am definitely planning on trying to incorporate some more inquiry-based labs. Looking forward to the challenge.

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