What are we doing to help kids achieve?
POGIL stands for "Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning". Over the years I have accidentally and somewhat intentionally been using POGIL activities. Students must work in teams, examine models and answer questions that become more complex based on the models and students hopefully build knowledge. I have had my ups and downs. It has been messy. Bottom line...here is what almost always happens...I eavesdrop on students talking like scientists. It is student centered and the comments would never come from students if I sat back and lectured. Somehow, I wound up at this conference for "advanced" POGIL practitioners. I am trying to keep it a secret that I have never really been advanced at anything and am hoping that by the time anyone figures this out the conference will be over.
What truly amazes me is the phenomenal teachers who are thoughtfully trying to use solid pedagogy to help students. To be around these people is kind of like chicken soup for the science teaching soul. Everybody seems to have struggled with the best way to help students work in groups.Urik Halliday studied "postive interdependence" and applied it to his student groups. Lindsay Turk laminated a rubric that is used by groups during her POGIL activities. The groups constantly gain, lose and regain points based on how well they work together (I will definately road test this for a future blog). She said it has changed her teaching and the culture of her classroom for the better. One teacher spends time with the students showing examples of great teams and compares them to groups of individuals. All are trying to inspire kids to work together to solve difficult science problems. They all care about the lowest and the highest performing student equally.
One of the best parts, and it has only been day one, is how Urik Halliday was able to provide me some invaluable feedback on an activity I am trying to develop about solutions and solubility. The students loved the "discrepant event" event but I was trying to put in about 15 concepts in one day. He provided wonderful insight on improvements to make it more managable and digestable for students without givng them the answer or being overwhelming.
Bottom line...if you have not gone to a conference now is the time to give it a shot. It is hard to be a teacher and to keep a positive attitude. It helps and inspires one to be surrounded by those who struggle in a positive way. A conference with other science teachers is like giving your intellectual soul a gentle hug. You get to meet some amazing people and you can wear all of your nerdy chemistry shirts without any impunity from your kids. It is like Christmas in July and your students will grateful...give it a try and let me know how it goes....