Ecological Relationships POGIL Activities for High School Biology

Instructor: Shanna Fox

Shanna has been an educator for 20 years and earned her Master of Education degree in 2017. She enjoys using her experience to provide engaging resources for other teachers.

POGIL activities encourage team problem solving, reflection, and critical thinking skills to be applied in a carefully structured manner. Explore ecological relationships with your high school Biology students using these engaging POGIL activities.

POGIL Activities: Ecological Relationships

POGIL is an acronym for Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning and is an excellent tool to use in a science classroom. Ecological relationships are a fascinating topic to explore with your high school biology students. Consider using these POGIL activities to engage students more deeply in self-directed cooperative learning. The activities are each designed to be used with teams. They address the topics of mutualism, parasitism, vectors, and competition. A list of materials and a detailed overview of the activity is provided for each one.

POGIL activities require that each member of a team take on a specified, carefully structured role. Be sure to assign, explain, and practice roles before engaging in POGIL activities. Consider adding an independent follow-up activity to ensure individual accountability. Due to the nature of POGIL exercises, and the complex collection of skills they contain, each of these activities will take about 90 minutes to complete.

Mutual Benefit

  • Materials: role assignments, mutualism reading passage and response questions, poster paper, markers, technology or print research resources, research or notetaking structure (for added support)

In this activity, students will engage in a shared reading and response exercise and apply their learning to create a poster demonstrating mutualism. Begin by providing students with a comprehensive reading passage that provides an overview and examples of mutualism. Ensure that comprehension and decision-making questions are part of the response component of the activity. For example, students may be asked a factual question and asked to categorize (decide) whether different animal and plant relationships are considered mutualism.

After the reading and response has been completed, have students explore one mutualistic relationship more deeply. They can use digital or print resources to do so. Provide a notetaking or research structure for added guidance. Ensure that students have specified roles or split the research equally among them. After students have finished their research, they can create a poster that shows the mutualistic relationship between their plant and/or animal. They should include both images and text to represent their learning. Have students engage in a carousel review of other teams' work.

Parasitic Disease Transfer

  • Materials: role assignments, parasitism and vector reading passage and response questions, poster paper, markers, research resources

In this activity, students will explore more about a parasite that serves as a vector for disease transfer. For example, they could explore rats and the transfer of the Bubonic plague or tics and Lyme disease. Assign specific roles for students to participate in their teams by sharing work. Review and practice the roles before launching the activity. Begin by providing students with a reading passage about the concept of parasitism to serve as a foundation for the remainder of the activity. Be sure to ask them to summarize key points, discuss the characteristics of a parasite, and categorize animals and plants into parasite or parasite-vector.

After the reading and response questions have been completed, provide students a chance to explore a specific parasite that serves as a vector in the transfer of disease. Provide research resources for exploration. Have them create a warning poster that details the hazards of encountering these vectors, preventative strategies to avoid them, and treatments to counteract infection. Provide time for students to share their warning posters with others. Display their work as a visual reminder of parasitism.

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