December 13, 2013
Texas Proclamation 2014 Gizmos Adoption
"Gizmos have a positive impact on our students. Many of our students are 'below level readers' and Gizmos does a great job of combining the visual and kinesthetic pieces together with content-rich reading and analysis tasks."
For more information on Texas publisher material adoptions visit the Texas Education Agency.
Posted by Heather Jones at 10:01 AM | Permalink
December 11, 2013
Expert Corner: Whole Group Instruction- Part III
Laura Chervenak has been with ExploreLearning since 2010 as the VP of Professional Development. She has taught high school science, and is the founder and former director of GOAL Digital Academy. Laura is National Board Certified in Science/Adolescence and Young Adulthood, with a B.A. in Zoology and an M.S. in Anthropology.
In the past two EL newsletters, we presented ideas for how to plan whole group instruction. Here’s a video of a teacher using some of these techniques:
With the Mineral Identification Gizmo, students are engaged in learning as they test various mineral properties and analyze data using a key. The teacher models best practice by asking students to verbalize their thinking, justify answers, and explain their thought processes to other students in the class. These types of questioning techniques lead to a deeper understanding of the science content and practices.
In January, we’ll be back to talk about how to make your lessons student-centric.
Have a great winter break!
Educator of the Month: Tanya Phillips
Tanya Phillips is a Biology Teacher at a high school in Coral Gables, Florida. She teaches pre IB, honors, and inclusion classes. She has been with the district for eight years and held several roles including science department chair, instructional coach, and middle school science teacher.
Ms. Phillips has been using Gizmos for as long as she’s been teaching. It all started with an ExploreLearning professional development workshop she attended years ago. It was there that she met Miami-Dade’s Gizmo Project Manager Mario Junco. After hearing what Mario had to say about the program, she decided to start using Gizmos in her classroom right away. She explains, “Watching Mario model the sample lessons, I just knew that I could have done the same.” About two years later, she was recognized for being one of the top Gizmo users in the district!
According to Ms. Phillips, one of the more challenging science concepts for students to understand is periodic trends. “Even though they see the atomic number increase on the periodic table, they still struggle with the concept of the atomic number determining what type of atom we are talking about. The Element Builder Gizmo is a great way to provide a visual and hands-on approach to such an abstract concept. Kids get to see the atom of the particular element come together and then change to another atom when subatomic particles are added or removed. They usually understand the concept really well after using the Gizmo.”
Students learn with Gizmos in numerous ways in Ms. Phillips’ classroom. She usually uses them to engage students when introducing a new concept. During whole class instruction, she asks students to come to the interactive whiteboard to manipulate the Gizmo, while other students assist in providing responses. Ms. Phillips also likes how Gizmos so naturally support varying student learning needs. She explains, “I use Gizmos to differentiate instruction by having the students interact with different activities within the Student Exploration sheets based on their levels or needs. Sometimes I use the exploration as enrichment or remediation for the students that need it.” At the end of the lessons, Ms. Phillips uses the built-in assessment to gauge student understanding and participation in the activities.
December 09, 2013
Gizmo of the Week: Seasons: Earth, Moon, and Sun
While the upcoming December solstice is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, it is not necessarily the earliest sunset. For most locations in the middle latitudes, the earliest sunset occurs a few weeks earlier than the solstice. This occurs because the exact time of solar noon varies slightly throughout the year. At this time of year, solar noon is a bit earlier than on the solstice, resulting in an earlier sunset. (Similarly, the latest sunrise will occur in early January.)
You can observe sunrise and sunset at any date and location with the Seasons: Earth, Moon, and Sun Gizmo. Use the 2D VIEW tab to observe the Sun’s path, or observe sunrise and sunset indirectly with the DAY GRAPH or SHADOWS tabs. You can use the “Step” button and the slowest speed to find the exact times of sunrise, sunset, and solar noon.
December 06, 2013
Warm up to new Lesson Materials
Winter weather got you stuck indoors? Have some fun and explore some of our exciting new Gizmo Lesson Materials.
With the Geometric Probability Gizmo, students can randomly throw darts at a target and see what percent are "hits" to study the relationship between the area of the target and the percent of darts that strike it.
December 05, 2013
Celebrate the Season of Giving
In this season of giving, ExploreLearning is happy to share just a few of the ways we give back to our community of teachers and children.
ExploreLearning is a proud Angel Tree Sponsor in partnership with the Salvation Army. So far, the ExploreLearning team has adopted over 30 children in need this holiday season. In addition, the ExploreLearning Professional Development team, as part of their “Virtual Holiday Party”, has decide to celebrate by giving back to those in need through online charity organizations including:
Feel free to join in our celebration of giving! Explore any of these to learn more about how you or your school can make the holidays a little brighter for children in need.
December 02, 2013
Gizmos Support Science Understanding in English Language Learners
Science class can be frustrating for English Language Learners (ELL). When teachers build on concepts in the science curriculum, they use complex vocabulary and often rely on students' background knowledge. Providing rich visual support and modeling during instruction has been shown to be a highly effective strategy in supporting students' understanding of science concepts. The use of Gizmos can help students connect concepts and vocabulary to real-world experiences, providing a bridge to learning between languages.
A Texas Science Coordinator agrees. She explains:
"Using Gizmos for ELLs is one of the best way to show a nonlinguistic representation of any science content/topics. Students enjoy the manipulation of variables and have the ability to communicate using pictures to the teachers with the simulations. Students see science content in a vivid and relevant way to help them increase their scientific literacy."
Gizmos' easily customizable lesson materials and vocabulary sheets provide students the opportunity to build on prior knowledge and communicate scientific content using multiple modes of representation (e.g. discussions, pictures, models, writing, graphs).
After attending a recent Initial Training Workshop, this is what one Memphis high school teacher had to say:
"The student body at the school I teach at consists majorly of ESL [English as a Second Language] students, and I definitely believe that Gizmos will assist my ESL students to better understand the concepts taught in science class, in which language can be a barrier for student comprehension."
Explore Gizmos today to see how they can help you transform learning for your ELL students.
Gizmo of the Week: Roots of a Quadratic
Any time you need to solve an equation that involves both x and the square of x, it is usually necessary to move everything to one side and find the roots (or solutions) of a quadratic equation in the form ax2 + bx + c = 0. While many quadratic equations can be solved by factoring, often the best way to find the answer is to use the quadratic formula.
The Roots of a Quadratic Gizmo is a great introduction to solving quadratics because it demonstrates that the solutions of a quadratic equation are equal to the x-intercepts of the parabola of the corresponding quadratic function. Students can use the Gizmo to find the axis of symmetry, calculate the discriminant to find the number of real roots, and practice using the quadratic formula to find both real and complex roots for quadratic equations. Be sure to go through the derivation of the quadratic formula with your class, which is found in the Teacher Guide for this Gizmo.
November 26, 2013
Teachers are "thrilled to start using Gizmos" in their classes
An elementary teacher at Golden Vally School in Québec recently attended our Initial Gizmos Training. Here's what she had to say,
"The training was well balanced, and gave many opportunities to search through and test out many Gizmos. It was very informative and left no questions unanswered. I am thrilled to start using Gizmos in my classroom."
With Gizmos' flexible professional development and support, you can start integrating Gizmos into your lessons today! Learn more
November 25, 2013
Gizmo of the Week: Levers
Turkey day is almost here! In the US, it’s time to visit family, give thanks, and eat way too much food. If you enter “turkey” into the ExploreLearning search window, you will find one Gizmo: Levers. What do levers have to do with turkeys? In the Gizmo, a carnival strongman can lift up a turkey, a pig, or a sheep using a lever. You can move the strongman and fulcrum to create a first, second, or third-class lever. Using the Gizmo, students can quickly see that the strongman gains advantage by moving himself farther from the fulcrum and placing the animal closer to the fulcrum.