I recently attended a class at CU Boulder about POGIL - Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning. The class was awesome! This method follows the constructivist teaching method, which guides students to learn the information independently through reading models and making generalizations. The instructor had us in groups of 3-4 and assigned us specific roles such as recorder, presenter and manager. The manager read each question aloud on the worksheet or activity and made sure that the group was working together...if we had a question over the material, the manager was the only one allowed to raise his/her hand. The presenter answered the questioned asked by the instructor after the activity / worksheet was completed. Each person completed their worksheet and the recorder wrote down the groups strengths, weaknesses and what questions the group still had.
The instructor said that once she knew her students and their level of understanding, she put them in groups accordingly. The high achieving students would be together and the mid-low achieving students would be in another group. This was mainly to benefit the mid-low level students because they are not intimidated to ask questions in their group and they will develop a greater understanding of the material by explaining it to their peers.
Like I said before, the workshop was awesome! There were about 40 teachers there and about 1/2 were college instructors. The lady who presented said she uses the POGIL method in her lecture classes at a university in Missouri....yes, even large "lecture" classes! She said she got a lot of critisism from her colleagues about using this method at first, so she taught a few units using the POGIL method and then switched to straight lecture. The students performed much better on the assessments after using the POGIL method...and she was able to cover more information than another colleague who strickly lectures.
I have used a few POGIL worksheets in my classroom this week and I have been very pleased. The worksheets break down the information so it is not so overwhelming and the kids are able to help each other out with questions in their group. I also split my classes into "teams" based on their level of understanding. I'm anxious to see how well they do over the next few weeks!
The POGIL website it www.pogil.org if you would like to check it out. This method is directed towards various levels and branches of chemistry, but maybe someone else could develop something to use for their class by looking at these examples.