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.


P1 – Intentional Inquiry and Planning

P1 – Practice intentional inquiry and planning for instruction. This means that classroom teacher plans instruction around a learning target and creates a lesson which encourages students to critically think about the function of the learning target. Within the realm of mathematics, students should build intuition around how mathematical processes and can therefore build from current understandings to unique situations in the future. For a teacher, building this intuition must be well planned.

Student Work Matrix POGILStudent Work Matrix POGIL2Student Work Matrix POGIL3 Student Work Matrix POGIL4

Student Work Matrix POGIL5Student Work Matrix POGIL6

In the images, I’m presenting the work of a group of students who completed a group inquiry activity that was monitored me. While POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) activities are highly structured and I lack the training to adequately design a true POGIL, this is my best attempt at guiding students through mathematical concepts using discovery as the motivator for the lesson. This POGIL is about matrix multiplication, the purpose of this activity was to build on their prior experiences of matrices, create intuition about mathematical practices, and assist students in making meaning behind matrix multiplication. Many students know the procedure, yet few understood how this process was applicable in the real world.

This classroom activity was built and designed by me, although I used a textbook to find problems with student interest in mind and adapted the questions to fit my instructional goals. Since this activity was designed by me, this demonstrates I am able to ask students good questions which lead to conceptual understanding. This also shows my ability to plan for 100 minutes of instruction and facilitate an activity, probing students for more advanced thinking.

While planning this activity, I learned about how challenging it is to create clear questions which lead students to understanding of the learning targets. Since I teach multiple sections of the same course, after each class, I revised my questions to ensure each question challenges students and leads them to more complete understanding of matrix multiplication. Students also state they enjoy the POGIL’s as a learning activity. Students get to work in groups and ask questions to their peers. Providing group based activities, students break the routine of back to back 100 minute learning segments. Additionally, this provides students the opportunity to practice new skills without the traditional “drill and kill” of many math classroom. Practicing with inquiry also helps students create meaningful understanding rather than the process of symbol manipulation alone.

When designing lessons, it may be useful within my lesson plans to prepare questions each day which probe at the students understanding. Also, I think that creating a classroom goal everyday (and actively writing it down in the lesson plan) will help lead to a meaningful result from the lesson. With a goal like “Students can understand the meaning and operations of matrix multiplication,” I can create quality lessons, ask questions which probe for understanding, and measure the effectiveness of my lesson.

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.

Cooperative Learning (POGIL) Reflection

POGIL stands for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning.

Many students were in the room before the class started. The POGIL activity was the start of class, so to begin assigning groups, a sample set of desks were positioned and the facilitator asked students in the room to form groups of four and to arrange the desks according to the sample set of seats. Since there was an odd number of students, another instructor participated in a smaller group until other students arrived to class. They were instructed as they entered which group to attend.

Within the groups of four, each student was assigned a role for participation. The Document controller was responsible for double checking work before members record anything and was in charge of picking up/dropping off materials. The reader was to read all of the paper so that the order of the activity was followed by the whole group. The time keeper was to keep the flow of the activity on track to meet the needs of the facilitator. Finally, we used the manager role to keep everyone on task of their own work. These roles were assigned throughout the activity as needed, first being the document controller. Our group was very functional, each person performed their task well and worked to complete the task as a whole group. They were good to help create meaning to those who struggled to understand the present task. Even when there were people who were confused the group helped keep one another accountable for the work needed to be completed.

There were three major outcomes of this activity. The first was the understanding of what good Essential Questions looked like and how to create a good Essential Question. Another outcome was for participants to self asses and re-evaluate their essential question for the Understanding by Design assignment. The last outcome was for pre-service teachers to learn about the POGIL process as a teaching/group work strategy.

During the debrief after the completion of the activity, the conversation was clear that there were lessons already established using the POGIL model for many science classes, but math instructors would need to learn more about the process to develop and test their own lessons. I think this process might be useful in my future classes by using parts of the model to establish group work on a guided inquiry activity. The roles provided are useful to almost any group activity because they clearly state the participant’s responsibility in the group and then they agree with the responsibility of their role. Group roles can be used for any group activity and they are unique and serve a purpose (they are not meaningless group roles). I may use this type of activity when introducing new topics that are heavily scaffolded, I’m unsure of how to use this process for less structured activities.