We're two weeks into the semester now and things are starting to settle into place again. With the start of a new year there have been a bunch of changes, and of course not everything went smoothly.
First off, I have decided to try something new with my Organic Chemistry class. Lately I have been concerned that despite my best efforts, my students were not getting the most out of my lectures or the readings in the text. Using some student activities during lecture is something I have tried in the past, but I always drifted back to straight lecture. Over the summer I got two presents in my mail box:
a booklet on Using Pogil in the Classroom and Other Research Developments from last November's meeting of the Michigan College Chemistry Teachers Association
This seemed like too good an opportunity to miss. As a result, I am replacing my standard lecture format with POGIL. POGIL stands for Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning and involves the students working in groups during class time, with me monitoring and guiding the groups when they have difficulties. The text is really more of a workbook which the students use during class that guides them through the process of learning each lesson. They need to have the book with them every day in class.
It is still a little early for me to tell, but the students seem to be adjusting – some better than others, but that is only to be expected. Of course, the students turned out to be the least of my problems in adopting POGIL. The second edition of Organic Chemistry: A Guided Inquiry, the POGIL text I am using, came out over the summer. When I went to our bookstore manager in July to ask about switching texts he told me there wouldn't be a problem and we should have the books before class started. Ha!
As it turns out, the publisher was out of stock and didn't expect more until Sept 5 – two weeks into the semester. This is at minimum a nuisance, but if the students NEED to have the book with them in class every day to do the lessons it makes it difficult to stick to a schedule. My bookstore manager was very helpful, he was able to get the first few sections of the book copied for me by the first day of class – so we were covered with about two weeks worth of class activities. The author, Andrei Straumanis, has a pretty active listserve on using his book and the POGIL system. He got permission to post pdf's of the first few weeks worth of the book on his web site.
Friday the bookstore called to say the books were in. Hurray!