The summer is an ideal time for reflection, a time to process and grow as an educator. This summer I was fortunate enough to attend the POGIL® National Meeting at Washington University in Saint Louis as well as assist as one of the facilitators at the Northeast Regional Meeting at Manhattan College. While there are numerous ways to spend your summer vacation, I wanted to share some reasons why POGIL® draws me in time and again.
All too often teachers use POGIL activities as worksheets when the teacher is absent, busy work to review a topic, or handouts for homework. However, using the POGIL activities in this manner does not allow the students to reap all the benefits of the activity. This article is designed to give you a glimpse into what the POGIL process can do for you.
I saw the process of students thinking like scientists but what I struggled with, and I imagine many others do as well, is how students work together in groups. Yes...I know it is important but is this a big battle that I want to fight? I was fortunate to meet several people who have developed some wonderful “tricks of the trade” to help students work as “teams”.
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.
We had just had some snow days and I had the feeling that I was getting behind. In one class we were approaching the topic of orbital diagrams and electron configurations. I was tempted to just say, "Here are the notes." Sometimes there is nothing wrong with that. This time, something was eating at me. Instead I picked a POGIL (link is external) from the "High School Chemistry" (link is external) book that presented the ideas through guided inquiry.