Day 55: To CMAS Or Not To CMAS, That Is The Question

To CMAS, or not to CMAS, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Smarter in the mind to suffer
The A’s, B’s, and C’s of outrageous Testing,
Or to take Option against a Sea of multiple choice bubbles,
And by opposing, end them? To rest, to go to Starbucks—
No more; and by a test, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural proctors ….

(My apologies to Mr. Shakespeare.)

Today was the first day (ever) of CMAS or the Colorado Measures of Academic Success, which is a series of tests in Science and Social Studies for seniors. As you can imagine, our seniors were less than enthusiastic about the new test. We, fortunately or unfortunately, had quite a few of them “opt out” of taking the exam. I wonder what will come of their decisions…

Anyway, because of the test, we were on a modified schedule today. It was nice to have the morning to work with my Mosaic colleagues – we really need more time like this, as there are so many ideas to flush out and tweak. Currently we meet during lunches (which may do more harm than good at times), after school, and often on weekends.

I used my morning time to work out some kinks in my use of our student information system, Project Foundry, and to meet with colleagues in the Biotech & Health Sciences Academy to share ideas about soliciting vitally important student feedback that can and should be used to better respond to our students’ learning needs and progress through their high school years. Ahh… collaboration!


In the afternoon we demonstrated the iodide catalyzed decomposition of hydrogen peroxide in a classic demonstration called “Elephant Toothpaste.” The demo was particularly useful to students studying chemistry and biology. Chemistry students asked and investigated questions regarding reactions, equations, balancing, thermodynamics, and catalysis. Biology students, who are currently designing investigations into the activity of the enzyme catalase, which biochemically catalyzes the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide inside cells, left with some more concrete ideas of enzyme activity and, I’d say, a better understanding of orders of magnitude increases in reaction rates.

elephant toothpaste

Demonstrations can be powerful when students are encouraged to ask questions, research and model the concepts involved, and share their findings with their peers and teachers. The Mosaic Collective, after all, purposefully seeks to cultivate and create a culture of questioning and inquiry, and this activity and time together was certainly no exception. It was a blast thinking and learning together as we oozed bubbly chemistry.