POGIL Conference – Portland, OR – July 27-29

As part of a KSTF Professional Development Grant, I was able to attend the Northwest Regional Conference for POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning). In an effort to meet my obligations for the grant, I will post the implementation plan approved as part of the grant and then comment on the outcomes for those specific action items. In this commentary, I will provide the learning from the conference and links to tools learned along the way.

June – July

Read for about 2 hours different published POGIL activities from math or science disciplines to see their successes, challenges and recommendations for improving POGIL in the classroom. Additionally, I will collect and review my previously created POGIL-like activities to compare my lessons with those created using the POGIL process. Conduct an internet search of leading questions (or directives) that could be used in the classroom environment to extract deeper responses from students (such as “can you tell me more about that?”) and make a list. Throughout the implementation of this plan, I will refine this list as I find what is and isn’t appropriate to foster learning.


July KSTF Meeting

Talk with other KSTF fellows about their practice of group activities, particularly science teacher who have lab classes. Since POGIL activities are similar to the group work and inquiry of a science lab, experienced science teacher may have tools for asking questions of students that lead to critical thinking in the inquiry activity. I am looking for questioning strategies when other teachers are working with groups.


July 27-29 (POGIL Conference)

Attend POGIL Workshop: Portland, OR. – I will begin on the Introductory Track for the workshop since I have no formal experience with POGIL. During the workshop, I will learn about the process and structure of the POGIL activity, list student learning outcomes from a POGIL activity and create plans for implementation of POGIL in my classroom. POGIL implementation includes facilitation tools for teachers that include questioning and keeping students engaged. I will use this learning for facilitation questioning to refine my bank of questions. Additionally, I will attend workshops about the Activity Structure of a POGIL (creating a framework for learning) and Writing Learning Objectives for the activities.


August – December

Create a clear classroom procedure for students to teach them how to positively engage in group, inquiry learning. I will Implement this procedure for my Algebra and Geometry classes in the fall when using group work. Additionally, I will create a POGIL lesson for my classroom and I will share out with other staff members to increase success in their classroom. In creating these activities, I would like to work with an instructional coach (provided by the school district) or a colleague to ensure effectiveness. Finally, I will continue to incorporate open ended questions (probing and clarifying questions otherwise known as socratic questioning) during my regular teacher to help extract deeper, more thoughtful responses to my students.



Action Research Hope Reflection – E3

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. Teacher candidates demonstrate knowledge of professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities and policies. This standard means that teachers are improving their teaching practices, as an effort to become professional educators, by researching and strategically adjusting classroom elements. An interpretation of one professional policy that teachers must meet is continuing education after a certification program and master’s degree, pre-service teachers should practice a strategy that will influence teaching practices long-term.

Action Research Proposal

To meet this standard in this class, I am presenting my Action Research Proposal. This proposal is for a project that any teacher can undertake to evaluate a current teaching practice, explore educational research surrounding a particular topic and propose an action plan to adjust a teaching practice. For me, this action research helped me explore researched philosophy about homework as a teaching tool. Within this document, I clarify reasoning for wanting to research homework, detail literature about improving homework completion, create a plan of action (in my case a Student Responsibility Survey) and a method of data collection. Each of these elements is a professionally centered practice that is crucial for continuing education as a professional.

By creating this document, I have shown that I am capable of critically analyzing my teaching practices and creating steps to a solution with the aim of student improvement. I believe that by improving my practices with the goal of student learning is my ethical responsibility as a public school teacher. Additionally, from the preparation work for this Action Research Project, I learned about some best-practices for assigning homework and encouraging students to complete homework. This project shows that I am able to collect usable data and analyze the effectiveness of the changes happening in my classroom.

Within the data collection piece, students are able to provide their own voice for their circumstances. This Action Research Project will help me learn more about my students and their unique needs as learners. While it is my responsibility to learn about how to be a better teacher, these improvements should overall help students become better learners. By implementing this professional growth practice and other similar to this in the future, my students will benefit from my increased ability to teach effectively.

While this project only touched on a part of this standard, mainly an understanding of the professional and ethical responsibility teachers have for continuing to grow as professionals, I can improve my demonstration of my understanding of teaching policies. To show more evidence of legal responsibilities, I think that I could have researched more about the teachers role in proving opportunities for student to learn information or ways that educators have provided access to homework for students with specific needs, such as 504 plans, IEP plans, students who have unstable home lives, students who are transient and switch between schools regularly. As I move forward, I will need to be aware of my schools policies about homework and how they encourage students to access course materials to gain understanding of concepts.

E1 – Professional Development Student Surveys

E1 – Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. Teacher candidates develop reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practices through regularly evaluating the effects of their teaching through feedback and reflection. This means that teachers are making reflection a regular practice to improve instruction and student learning. In the Internship Seminar class we were asked to provide a student survey about our teaching practices. I already ask students to provide feedback at the end of each unit. student reflectionMy piece of evidence is another type of survey I incorporate into my regular teaching practices. After students take a unit test, I ask my students the following question to respond in their reflection journal: “In what ways can Mr. G improve the teaching of this unit?” This response was particularly representative of the whole classes responses and provided constructive feedback with positive behaviors to continue. When this student wrote this reflection, I saved it because their feedback was helpful to me, both positively and constructively.

This student’s reflection about my work as a developing teacher, demonstrates my growth in my teaching practices throughout the year. The student says, “He does great when he is showing all the steps to solving something. Her is also very good at keeping the class engaged.” Both of these have been points of emphasis as I begin my teaching career, particularly keeping students engaged in rigorous academic work. Research shows that keeping students engaged improved retention of material (Borich, 2014), I am excited that students recognize my efforts to keep them engaged in learning. I will continue to ask students these and similar questions to receive feedback that I can improve upon (such as improving group work protocols to optimize student learning when working in small groups).

This student work sample, along with my reflection to the assigned student survey, that aims at different teaching practices, help me target areas of success and areas of improvement. I can ask specific questions to measure my effectiveness as an educator. “In mathematics, several factors have been consistently found to exert a positive influence on student achievement gains: teacher coursework, degree attainment, and certification coupled with pedagogical training in how to teach mathematics (Hightower, et al., 2011, p.32 ).” Teachers play a crucial role in student achievement, the improvements I can make directly impact the student’s success.

In the past, since I have asked the same static question at the end of each unit, I would like to get more diverse feedback. As I work with the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation, I will be developing a long-term teacher inquiry questions for the first several years as a teacher. As this question develops and I work in collaborative work groups to help me establish steps towards meeting these professional goals, I would like to use the student surveys to ask my students questions as evidence towards those goals. The student feedback will help me assess if I am meeting my practitioner inquiry goals and can help me find next steps in any are needed.


Borich, G. D. (2014). Effective Teaching Methods (9th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Hightower, A. M., Delgado, R. C., Lloyd, S. C., Wittenstein, R., Sellers, K., & Swanson, C. B. (2011). Improving Student Learning By Supporting Quality Teaching.

Professional Issues Reflection – E3

E3 – Exemplify an understanding of professional responsibilities and policies. Teacher candidates demonstrate knowledge of professional, legal, and ethical responsibilities and policies. Essentially, this means that teacher candidates are learning about the responsibilities for professional growth within the field and the ethics of improving as a professional. The Collaborative Learning Notes – Germanis taken about improving professional practices through Collaborating, Coaching and Consulting provide evidence to my learning in this HOPE standard. The assignment was to make notes about how professional teachers continue growing in their role as teachers and the importance of growth for job satisfaction. The notes start by addressing the professional issue of burnout and then turn to collaboration and relationships as the solution to this concern. Additionally, through connections with my internship, collaboration with other staff and professional growth are performance requirements for some teacher evaluation models.

Within this work sample, I am learning about the responsibility of seeking help, especially as new teachers become more confident in their role. Teachers should continue to collaborate with one another through professional learning communities, critical friends, coaching or professional circles. It would be irresponsible to continue learning about the current generation of students when attempting to teach. Since students needs are continuously evolving, teacher are responsible for meeting the new needs of students as a whole. Professional development within the school can help teachers (even veteran teachers) overcome some systematic obstacles.

Students are directly impacted by professional development through collaboration. From experience, some students claim that teacher X is better than teacher Y because teacher X does A, B and C. Within professional learning communities (PLC), teacher X could share with all of the other teachers their success in addressing a particular issue and the PLC could provide suggestions to create a homogeneous plan to address specific student concerns. During a classroom visit last spring, I had the privilege of participating in a PLC at a local high school. It was powerful to see the suggestion from coworkers for the teacher presenting his problem to receive suggestions to better support students.

From participating in the note taking activity, I learned about the various types of professional development that can happen at a school. In my internship, I am not experiencing good teacher collaboration…it’s not built into the culture of the school and only one or two teachers at the school teach the same subject. I also came to realize the important of staff relationships for new teacher to reduce burnout. Creating a strong working community could potentially reduce loneliness when many teachers can discuss similar work related issues and develop improvement plans.

While my school does not actively participate in joint teacher collaboration, within my internship, I am excited to work with my mentor teacher to address professional issues well. We have vibrant discussions about student working with IEP’s and my responsibility to adjust my teaching to meet those students’ needs. We talk about lesson planning and specifically how our goals will meet the needs of our students. One case of this has been in observing him teach a particular class, we have collaborated and he has told me that he is learning from these conversation, even after 30+ years of teaching. There is a lot of power in collaboration and professional learning teams. Throughout this year, I intent to be intentional about connecting with this teacher about our teaching philosophies to meet student’s needs. After this year, I hope to intentionally join a school where professional development is important within the school’s culture. This will be the topic of one questions I may ask in my interviews when applying for different schools.

Inquiry, Teaching and Assessment Methods II Reflection

E1- Exemplify professionally-informed, growth-centered practice. Teacher candidates develop reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practices through regularly evaluating the effects of his/her teaching through feedback and reflection. This standard means that teachers will use student feedback and formative assessment to guide lesson plans and class activities to meet the needs of students.

Parametric POGIL Student Work Sample

The document included is a student work sample from an activity which demonstrates some implementation from the Understanding by Design unit plan structure and implementation of teaching based on formative assessment. While this document is not from coursework, it demonstrates that I can take what was learned in the course and implement a lesson where I am designing activities from pre-established goals and finding acceptable evidence to show that students have met the goal. The student work sample is a class activity which was implemented after some feedback was given by students. During my internship, I noticed that students were not completely understanding the ideas of parametric equations and the importance of the location of the “T” in the equation. My mentor teacher and I discussed various forms of evidence which would allow students to demonstrate their understanding. After learning the POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) lesson strategy for group work, I decided this would be an appropriate way to formatively assess students again to see if they can distinguish differences between parametric equations which have “T” in different locations. Additional goals were for students to build some intuition about what parametric functions would look like when graphed on paper or their calculator and make sensical choices for plot windows.

This piece of evidence demonstrates my application of designing a lesson with the outcomes in mind and to address student concerns discovered through one on one student conversation. My engagement in this activity has taught me several important key concepts about lesson plan and unit design such as planning with the goal in mind and creating activities which help students meet the goals. I have been challenged with identifying the true needs of my students and then finding (or creating) lessons which help students meet the needs. I have learned the importance of being in touch with my students and listening to their frustrations and needs. When they ask for help or sound confused on concepts, this is a clue for teachers to think about how activities are helping students meet pre-established goals for the lesson or unit. When teachers are careful about the intentions of their lessons, student have more to gain. The Understanding by Design structure for creating a lesson or unit helps teacher focus the class activities around the ending outcome. Teachers who use Common Core State Standards and the UbD lesson structure are sure to bring students to standard because the activities are structured around the goals.

To improve my ability of being a growth centered, informed instructor, I need to constantly ask myself whether or not students are learning and if I am meeting my goals. Within the teaching profession, where teachers may repeat these lessons year after year, I can improve each lesson by assessing whether or not the activity really met my goal for the unit and revise for the following years. Growing as a teacher doesn’t end when I have taught for a few years, I am obligated on continue growing and improve my students learning every single year. I believe the key is intentional improvement and measuring student growth.

E2 – Professionalism and Teamwork

bPortfolio E1

Online Registration System

E2 – [1] Exemplifies collaboration within the school. Teacher candidates participate collaboratively and professionally in school activities and using appropriate and respectful verbal and written communication. [1] E1 means that teachers must work together to create products with the interests of students and other staff in mind for both curriculum and non-curriculum related tasks. This standard also implied that professional communication should be mindful of staff’s needs to communicate important ideas. [2] The document linked here is a set of instructions, a list of club names and club descriptions which is presented to the entire student body to implement a new online registration system for student clubs. Each student is required to join a club as part of the schools mission. The screen shot is of the online registration system which I produced. This registration system will help reduce chaos from previous years sign up system and will provide a fair way for students to select their club.

[3] Staff members were able to choose their own club and provide a description. Many emails were sent by the Associated Student Body (ASB) advisor and me to the staff to collect preferred club choices. I was required to present my product to a leadership team to approve the process to use for the school. During my presentation meeting, I was able to clearly share the mission and the utility of the tool, provide solutions to problems and took initiative to solve anticipated problems. For example, one team member asked how the staff would learn the new system. I responded with a prepared powerpoint presentation to guide staff through the registration process. Organizing such a large scale project has taken a lot of communication with all staff and the ASB advisor.

[4] During this process, I learned that some teachers are overwhelmed with many other needs and rarely have time to respond. I learned how to communicate through different mediums, both using technology and other methods to get answers. [4] I also learned that working with people who are overwhelmed is challenging and patience is an important disposition when working through frustrating experiences. [5] My school is particularly project oriented, students will see that teachers must also work together on projects. Students can learn that teamwork, professionalism and collaboration is a lifelong skill to acquire and is used during work. [6] Through this process, I learned about this particular staffs preference for online forms (Google Forms) only when time is allotted to complete these forms. Otherwise, the task will not be completed. In the future, I will create a Google Form before staff meetings and then request five minute of time to collect information. This will increase my professionalism by reducing the number of unnecessary emails to staff, ultimately reducing their burden and becoming more productive myself.

Introduction to Teaching Course Reflection

Discussion Post Entry: Education Reform

Discussion Post Entry: Education Reform

E1 – Exemplify professionally-informed, growth centered practice. This means that teachers have demonstrated an understanding of current educational and suggest strategies for improvement. The attached screenshot shows an assigned discussion post about recent reform in public education. Hunt (2005) discusses the problems with previous reform, (i.e. career education reform), as being over ambitious and under studied, claiming that reformists fail to anticipate long term affects when solving short term problems. My discussion post agrees that many reforms do not meet the needs and there is some concern for the Common Core State Standards as they approach full implementation. I suggest differentiated teaching as a potential solution to work around the many reform systems implemented in classrooms. This relates to the program standard E1 because teachers who are educated about policy reform can adjust their classrooms to best fit student needs while accommodating reform policies.

Since writing this discussion post, I have learned specific research based strategies for improving classroom instruction such as scaffolding lessons and teaching just above student understanding to maximize learning. From reading articles about education reform, I have learned how implemented systems intended to help the educational process are often challenged and rejected because of cost. An example of this was a class discussion of suggestions from “A Nation at Risk” where longer class days were suggested by researchers, but rejected by politicians because of costs.

Students have always been impacted by school reform. In the discussion post, I talk about my experience of the WASL throughout my middle and high school education and how I felt about standardized test reform. Hunt (2005) makes a strong argument in his article about how students change because of reform. One danger of the current standards based education is that low motivation students tend to complete the bare minimum to pass. On the other hand, the standards require generally require more rigorous understanding to meet expectations ultimately raising the level of general education. To improve my teaching and grow as an effective educator, I am pursuing professional development opportunities after earning my teaching credentials geared towards improving math and science teachers and retaining highly qualified educators in high schools. By becoming more engaged with my own professional development, I can collaborate resources with other educators to research and improve teaching to more positively impact student learning during immanent educational reform.


Hunt, T. C. (September 2005). History of Reforms: Education Reforms: Lessons from History. Phi Delta Kappan, 87(1): 84-89.