August 2022: Looking forward to the 2022-2023 school year

Hi, everybody! I hope you’re all doing well and have been able to get some rest and relax a bit after the challenges we faced this past school year. On a personal note, I was able to take the family up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for a few days in July – what a beautiful place! We stayed in the tiny town of Grand Marais on the southern shore of Lake Superior for a few days and took in some of the local sights. If you’re ever able to make it up there and you like seeing trees more than having cell service, I highly recommend it!

I’ve put a lot of time and effort into this summer to write new quizzes and improve the Dashboard so that the site is more useful for you and your students this upcoming school year. I’m really excited about all the new stuff I have to share with you, so let’s get right to it!

New quizzes!

*NEW* Bond Polarity & Electronegativity Quiz

  • determine polarity, arrow notation and delta notation of chemical bonds
  • calculate electronegativity difference (Δχ or ΔEN)

*NEW* Molecular Geometry & VSEPR Quiz

  • identify molecular shape, electron geometry and AXE notation of chemical compounds
  • determine polarity, ideal bond angle(s), electron hybridization and number of domains, unbonded pairs and total valence electrons

*NEW* Organic Nomenclature Quiz

  • name organic compounds from over 9,000 chemical diagrams
  • identify organic compound classes such as alcohols, aldehydes, amines, esters, ethers, ketones and more

*NEW* Redox Reactions & Net Ionic Equations Quiz

  • write net ionic equations when given chemical reactions
  • determine oxidation numbers in over 1,000 compounds and identify oxidizing and reducing agents in reactions
  • balance over 100 redox reactions in acidic and basic solutions

I had a lot of fun writing these quizzes and learned a lot while working on them, from AXE notation to using PubChemPy to interface with PubChem to drawing molecules with SMILES. I feel like they fill in some of the gaps in topics that I had before and I hope they provide you and your students with lots of useful practice questions!

New features

I received some really helpful feedback from the end-of-the-year survey that I sent out last spring about how the Dashboard could be better, so I’ve made the following improvements:

New Dashboard features for teachers:

  • NEW “Gradebook” feature provides easier to read results in a grid
  • NEW Teacher Discussion Forum for communicating with other Chemistry teachers around the world – ask for help, point out bugs, etc! (FYI you must be logged into your teacher account to access the forum)
  • moved the sample curriculum to Dashboard as “Exemplars” (more on this in a bit)
  • teachers can now create assignments that don’t require students to log in – great for quick check for understanding or “bell ringer”! – just share the link with them
  • teachers can now require an access code for assignments – helpful if you have multiple sections of the same course throughout the day and want to restrict access
  • added a checkbox at the top of the Results table to select all results so teachers can archive them in a bulk action
  • teachers can now see which students have started an assignment but haven’t finished

Because of some personnel changes, the school where I teach switched me back to Chemistry again – for the first time in eight years! – so that made me really sit down and think about how to make the Dashboard work better for classroom teachers who have limited time to figure their way around a complicated user interface, so I really hope the improvements are noticeable and helpful.

More new features for teachers:

  • users can log in through Google using the “Log in with Google” button on the Login page – if your district uses Google, this should help your students who have login issues!
  • custom assignment names now show at the top of quizzes
  • added “Name:” line & custom title options to the top of printable quizzes

New Dashboard features for students:

  • added a menu bar for better organization
  • students can now change their own password
  • added a big pink “Go to Dashboard” button on home page that shows up if they’re logged in
  • cute new artwork by Rain Carman for Significant Figures Quiz and Gas Laws Quiz!

Our school district uses Google and my son is taking Chemistry this year with one of my colleagues, so I’ve been testing the Google login with him and I’m hoping it’ll make the site a lot easier to use for everyone in the Google ecosystem.

Bug fixes

Unfortunately, there will always be bugs with any software, but I’ve been able to fix a number of them thanks to the help of many teachers and students:

  • automated assignment and result emails are working properly again!
  • filter menu for assignments Results didn’t show all assignments if any archived results existed for that teacher (thanks Jason!)
  • couldn’t remove “Assignment due date” on existing assignments (thanks Matthew!)
  • Scientific Notation Quiz wouldn’t load proper settings in printable mode
  • Solubility Quiz wasn’t calculating answers for ions correctly (thanks Susan!)
  • Enthalpy Calculations Quiz wasn’t calculating answers for mass (g) correctly (thanks again, Susan!)
  • percent yield problems in the Stoichiometry & Limiting Reagents Quiz with a given product and wanted reactant quantity were not calculating correctly (thanks Don!)
  • many other small fixes and under-the-hood improvements and optimizations

I still have a few more bugs I’m trying to track down and squish before my school year starts in the next couple weeks! If you come across something that’s not working properly on, please let me know by emailing me or filling out the Contact form on the site. Sometimes I can find and fix a bug quickly, while other times it takes me a while to reproduce the error and figure out what it’s happening, but rest assured that I document them all and will try my best to resolve them.

NEW Independent Student Accounts!

I’ve always tried to make as accessible as possible by making the quizzes free for everyone to use and giving out free site licenses to schools with high proportions of economically disadvantaged students. However, I’ve been contacted in the past by students whose teachers aren’t using the Dashboard but want to work on their own and keep track of their own progress, especially when preparing for an exam.

To that end, I’ve created a new Independent Student Account option that features over 150 scaffolded assignments across the 30 quizzes on the site! As students complete the assignments, they’ll earn “Achievement Badges” based on the number they’ve passed as well as the quizzes or topics they’ve finished. Students can also hide topics that don’t apply to their studies; for example, I imagine a lot of high school students will hide the Organic Nomenclature assignments. Here’s what independent students will see when they log in:

screenshot of independent student account Dashboard
screenshot of independent student account Dashboard

Here’s a picture of the “Neon Badge”, which an independent student will earn after completing 10 assignments:

Neon Achievement Badge
Neon Achievement Badge

(atomic #10, get it? 😂)

I’m hoping that Independent Student Accounts will help make even more useful to Chemistry students around the world, regardless of whether their teachers use the Dashboard, so I’m keeping the price low at just US $6 for a full year of access. As I write more quizzes and add more features to existing quizzes, I’ll keep creating assignments that will be available at no additional charge. Please reach out if you have any questions about Independent Student Accounts!

By the way, these assignments are available for teachers with Dashboard site licenses to use too! Just log in to the Dashboard and click on the new “Exemplars” link in the top menu bar:

screenshot of Dashboard menu bar with Exemplars activated
Exemplars in the Dashboard

From there, you can select an exemplar (example assignment) and create a copy of it to assign to your own students and modify however you’d like. These are many of the same assignments I plan on using in my CP Chemistry classes this upcoming school year, so I hope they’re also helpful for you!

Dashboard site licenses for the 2022-2023 school year

A number of you have already purchased a site license to the Dashboard for the 2022-2023 school year – thanks again for your support! Site licenses help me pay for the web hosting and other software that I use to write and publish the quizzes. They also help me justify the time I’ve spent developing the site instead of applying for more supplementals at school (like I’m sure many of you have done!). Site licenses are good through July 1, 2023, unless your school district operates on a different academic calendar, in which case I can modify that access window to meet your needs.

If you’re interested in purchasing a site license for the 2022-2023 school year, the cost remains US$50 per year, and I can accept payment through a variety of means, including school purchase orders, personal check, a credit card through Square, or you can send payment to at CashApp, PayPal, Venmo or Zelle. If you’re outside the United States, please try to use one of the electronic payment methods above, as my credit union has made depositing foreign checks difficult.

I’ve sent out a lot of sales quotes and invoices recently, but if you didn’t receive one or need another copy, please let me know! If you’re planning on paying with a school purchase order, I’m happy to fill out whatever forms your district requires and I’ll activate your site license as soon as I get the PO.

Remember, if you teach in a high poverty public high school or school district (at least 50% of your students on free/reduced lunch or designated “economically disadvantaged”), then just send me a link to the supporting documentation and you’ll get a site license for free forever. There are currently 73 public schools in the United States that are taking advantage of the free site license to help their students learn Chemistry, and it makes me really happy that I can offer that service to them at no cost.

Help get the word out about!

If you like, there are three quick and easy things that you can do to help me promote the site!

  • Follow @ChemQuizDotNet on Twitter and Facebook and share my updates with your fellow Chemistry teachers!
  • Tell another Chemistry teacher about and encourage them to try out the Dashboard!
  • Add your school to the growing list of supporters on the About page by going to the Dashboard, click on “Your Info” in the top menu bar, check the box next to “Display School on“, and click the “Update Your Info” button.

Collaborating with science teachers all around the world over the past two years has been the most rewarding aspect of creating (although I did get a really nice email from a student who told me that, thanks to the site, she passed Chemistry and was planning on majoring in it, so that might win!) so I wanted to thank you for all of your kind words, helpful suggestions and constructive criticism. With all of the modern classroom stresses of bed bugs, covid, school shootings and now monkeypox, it’s nice to have something positive like this that I can focus my efforts on. I’m looking forward to another great school year of serving up Chemistry practice quizzes!