April 14, 2014

Gizmo of the Week: Water Pollution

April 14th marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Rachel Carson, a researcher and writer who started the environmental movement in 1962 with the publication of “Silent Spring.” Carson first became concerned with widespread pesticide use while working for the Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1940s.

Water polution“Silent Spring,” which documented the devastating effects of DDT on wildlife, brought environmental issues to the forefront and led to a ban on DDT use.

The Water Pollution Gizmo presents a variety of types of water pollution, including toxic, sediment, nutrient, and bacterial. Students learn about each form of pollution and identify the kinds of pollution that apply to a variety of real-world scenarios.

As an extension to the lesson, have students create public service announcements on how to reduce water pollution in their communities. This makes a great Earth Day activity!

Posted by Heather Jones at 07:57 AM in Science, Science (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink

April 11, 2014

Educator Spotlight: Jennifer DeMik

Jennifer DeMik teaches 7th and 8th grade math at Liberty Middle School in Tampa, FL. She is the math subject leader and is the school’s SAC Chair. She received her BA from Eckerd College and her MA in Sociology from the University of South Florida.

With over seven years of teaching experience in Hillsborough County Schools, Jen has been through numerous annual evaluations. This year’s annual review was scheduled during her “most difficult” class, but she wasn’t worried because her lesson plan had a secret weapon… Gizmos! Her whole group Gizmo lesson scored “Exemplary” in all domains of evaluation, which included demonstrating knowledge of content and pedagogy, designing coherent instruction, organizing physical space, showing professionalism and using assessment in instruction.

Percent of Change GizmoJen used the Percent of Change Gizmo during her lesson, which allows students to apply markups and discounts using interactive percent rulers. “The full lesson spanned over a 3-day period. The Gizmo reinforced concepts such as percent of change, sales tax, tip, discount and markup as one great big global concept.” As a result, students were able to improve number sense for percents with this dynamic, visual tool.

The lesson description below was taken from her peer-evaluation: “She effectively planned and utilized the Gizmo to further student learning as well as demonstrated a wide range of effective pedagogical approaches during the lesson. Students were strategically paired and then adjusted as needed for the lesson. Students were provided opportunities to peer and self-assess when comparing responses, checking with the calculator and viewing the Gizmo.”

If you are considering using Gizmos with your students, Jen has one thing to say, “If people don't believe this stuff works, they clearly haven't used it enough or even tried it!”

Try Gizmos today to see how you can take your students’ learning to the next level!

Posted by Heather Jones at 09:49 AM in Case Studies, Testimonials, Using Gizmos | Permalink

April 07, 2014

Gizmo of the Week: Target Sum Card Game

1020DETApril is National Math Awareness month, and this year’s theme is Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery. Card games are a great way to make the connection between mathematics and magic. The Target Sum Card Game Gizmo is a fun and engaging game that utilizes basic arithmetic skills, estimation, and logic.

In the Gizmo, students are dealt a hand of cards with the digits 0-9. The goal is to arrange the cards in different place values so that the sum is as close as possible to a given target. This is relatively easy to do when the number of cards is small, but the challenge increases rapidly as the number of cards increases.

Students can modify the game in a variety of ways and even play each other head-to-head. After using the Gizmo, try playing the game with real cards!

Posted by Heather Jones at 07:36 AM in Math (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink

April 01, 2014

ExploreLearning, a Cut Above the Rest

6a00d8341e234753ef01a51198a2b4970c-320wiThe SIIA CODiE finalists were announced this week, and ExploreLearning Reflex and Gizmos were on the list!

During the past 28 years, the SIIA CODiE Awards have recognized software and information companies for achieving excellence. The CODiE Awards remain the only peer-recognized program, so each CODiE Award serves as an incredible testament to a product’s innovation, vision, and overall industry impact. ExploreLearning has been represented among CODiE finalist for 9 straight years.  

Gizmos was carefully selected as a finalist for Best Mathematics Instructional Solution. This prestigious award recognizes the best mathematic instructional product that provides deep learning experiences for students, supports standards-alignment, and reflects current curriculum practice.

Reflex is among the Best Learning Game Finalists. Reflex was selected for its ability to provide a motivating learning environment and enable students to learn educational concepts.

Review the full list of 2014 CODiE Award Finalists. Winners will be announced in May!

Posted by Heather Jones at 03:31 PM in Edu/Tech, Press Clippings, Using Gizmos | Permalink

March 31, 2014

Gizmo of the Week: Binomial Probabilities

Before the start of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, which ends next weekend, Warren Buffett offered a prize of one billion dollars to anyone who could create a perfect bracket. It only took 25 games before the last possible winning entry was eliminated, and Buffett’s money was safe.

126DETHow many brackets are possible in the tournament, and what are the chances of creating a perfect bracket? Students can explore these questions with the Binomial Probabilities Gizmo.

In this Gizmo, students use tree diagrams to illustrate the possible outcomes of a series of binomial experiments. Students then derive the formula for finding the probability of r successful outcomes in n experiments.

By the way, there are over 9.2 quintillion (9,200,000,000,000,000) possible brackets in the NCAA tournament. Warren Buffett’s money might be safe for a while!

Posted by Heather Jones at 07:54 AM in Current Affairs, Math (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink

Use Gizmos to help students understand the science behind the search for the missing Malaysian jetliner

On March 11, Inmarsat, a London-based telecommunication company, contacted Malaysian government with key location information for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. Inmarsat scientists measured MH370's radar ping against "example" flights to narrow down the search. The more flights they looked at, the smaller their field became, until they were tracked to a remote section of the ocean near Perth.

XkThe company used the 'Doppler effect' to find the area where plane crashed. You're probably familiar with the Doppler effect... when you hear an ambulance pass by, the change in pitch is an example of the Doppler effect.

Watch this Physics teacher explain the Doppler effect and the effect of an object’s movement in relation to the sound waves produced by it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-Uhiz0Tilk

Help students explore this real world concept with the Doppler Shift Advanced Gizmo. Students can investigate how the speed of the moving object is related to the magnitude of the Doppler shift.

Posted by Heather Jones at 07:40 AM in Current Affairs, Science, Science (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink

March 24, 2014

Gizmo of the Week: General Form of a Rational Function

137DETA rational function is a ratio of two polynomials. Like any fraction, a rational function is undefined when its denominator equals zero.

So what does that look like on the graph, where x equals a root of the denominator? What happens to the y-values as x approaches those roots?

In the General Form of a Rational Function Gizmo, students can create and graph a wide variety of rational functions, with up to three linear factors in both the numerator and denominator.

With the help of the newly updated Lesson Materials, they can determine the asymptotes and domains, find the x-intercepts, explore the end behavior, and even take an interesting look at the near-origin behavior of these graphs.

Posted by Heather Jones at 09:06 AM in Using Gizmos | Permalink

March 20, 2014

Lesson Material Updates

Gizmos are a great way to provide conceptual understanding of complex mathematical concepts. Check out these interactive mathematics Gizmos that just received updated Lesson Materials.

Addition of Polynomials

Integers, Opposites, and Absolute Values


Number Systems

Least-Squares Best Fit Lines

General Form of a Rational Function

Addition of Polynomials

In the Addition of Polynomials Gizmo, students use tiles to model and add two polynomials of the form ax2 + bx + c. The Gizmo provides feedback for incorrect steps, and the randomized problem generator allows for unlimited practice to support mastery.

Also, check out the User Lesson Materials from members of the Gizmos community. Kathleen Kaplan submitted a lesson plan for the Addition of Polynomials Gizmo that includes a real-world problem involving the distance between jets, where students will need to subtract polynomials.

Posted by Heather Jones at 09:12 AM in Site Announcements, Using Gizmos | Permalink

March 19, 2014

Celebrate International Forest Day with Gizmos

639DETDid you know that March 21st is International Forest Day? This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests. Forests are the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than half of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Forests also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent populations.

In celebration of National Forest Day, use the Forest Ecosystem Gizmo to teach students about the delicate balance within a forest ecosystem.  Or, have students try out the Measuring Trees Gizmo to investigate how precipitation affects tree growth, while reinforcing mathematic concepts like circumference and diameter.

If you're planning activities for International Forest Day, share them with the community on our Facebook page.

Posted by Heather Jones at 12:09 PM in Current Affairs, Math (Real World), Science, Science (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink

March 17, 2014

Gizmo of the Week: Pattern Finder

663DETSpring is coming at last! In the eastern US and Canada, one of the first signs of spring is the loud chorus of spring peepers you hear at night. If you visit a local wetland, you may even be able to see the tiny frogs singing for spring.

In the Pattern Finder Gizmo, students can observe frogs leaping between colored lily pads. While the motion may seem chaotic at first, close investigation shows that each frog leaps with a repeating pattern. Can you figure out each frog’s pattern, and determine where it will hop next?

This Gizmo helps students not only with pattern recognition but also with forming and testing hypotheses, analyzing their hypotheses and drawing conclusions.

Posted by Heather Jones at 10:35 AM | Permalink