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February 28, 2006

ExploreLearning Friends Present at VCTM

ExploreLearning is excited to be a part of the VCTM conference March 10 and 11 in Blacksburg, Virginia. Dave Shuster, founder and president of ExploreLearning, and Eric Frenchak, our new Educational Consultant in the Southeast, will demonstrate from our new collection of Gizmos at the ExploreLearning booth. In addition, several of our ExploreLearning friends will present throughout the conference. Below is a list of must see presenters. (And, if you mention that you read about our presence at VCTM in the BUZZ, you could receive a really cool ExploreLearning water bottle.)

Build Mathematical Thinkers: Use Highly Effective Instructional Strategies in Middle School (Grades 6-8)
Marlene Robinson, Albemarle County Public Schools

The McREL study about strategies that enhance student achievement identified 9 highly effective strategies for instruction. We will give examples for different ways to integrate these strategies into the 6-8 Connected Mathematics curriculum to help students better understand mathematical concepts and improve their mathematical thinking, reasoning, and communication skills.

SOH-CAH-TOA, the Unit Circle and Trig Functions: What's the Connection? (Grades 9-12)
Jeffrey Steckroth, University of Virginia

Students often see right triangle trigonometry, the unit circle, and the study of trigonometric functions as three distinct topics, failing to see the connections among them. This presentation will include multiple representations and use Sketchpad, Excel and TI-SmartView animations to illustrate just how closely the three topics are related.

Get SMART (boards) and the Case of the Inquisitive Classroom (Grades 9-12)
Susan Socha, Fairfax County Public Schools

You've tracked down a Smartboard…now what? Agent 86 and Agent 99 investigate ways to inspire interactivity and increase student participation. Uncover how a worksheet can be transformed into an exciting exercise. Examine web pages that require student input. It's the old manage the classroom while you're learning new tricks!

Explore Learning in the Algebra Classroom (Grades 9-12)
Cathy Coffman, Albemarle County Public Schools

Participants will discover the power of Gizmos (using Explorelearning.com) in their classrooms. Gizmos are dynamic, interactive, discovery tools for math (and science) students.

Posted by Eve Solomon at 04:32 PM in Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teacher Says, "Gizmos ROCK!"

Hey, we think the ExploreLearning Gizmos are pretty cool, but don't take our word for it …

Gizmos ROCK!

My Junior HIgh students have learned so many science concepts through the use of Gizmos that were otherwise very difficult to grasp. …I am an advocate of your site and encourage every teacher I meet to check it out.

— Caryn Murray, Science Teacher, Frontenac, Kansas.

Thanks, Caryn!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:47 AM in Testimonials | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 17, 2006

Improved Printing of ExploreLearning.com Pages

During a recent trip to Albemarle High School with the digicam to catch some footage of "teacher and students and Gizmos in action," one of the things I noticed was that not only was the teacher printing out quite a few EL pages for use in her class but also that print quality on the pages was poor. And by poor I mean that there was all sorts of junk —— navigation buttons, search boxes, login buttons — appearing on the printed page and making it look cluttered and difficult to use.

I'm happy to say that this problem is now I fixed. I took sometime this week to write and apply a print-specific style sheet to all ExploreLearning.com pages. (Previously, only the Exploration Guides were getting the special print treatment.) So now if you're using a so-called "modern" browser (i.e., IE6, Fire Fox, Safari) you'll get a much cleaner and readable printed page.

If you ever dabble with your own web pages and want to know more about print style sheets, I highly recommend this article from CSS guru Eric Meyer: Going to Print.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:48 AM in Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 14, 2006

Reading, writing and blogging

I noticed an article in the Richmond Times-Dispatch this weekend which discussed how blogs are being used in the classroom. The changes in technology continue to amaze me. I wonder what I would have though of being able to blog back when I was a young student?

From the article:

When Chelsea Pleasants wants to know what her daughter is doing in school, she heads to the Internet.

With a few clicks of a mouse, Pleasants can navigate the Web site for Goochland County's Byrd Elementary School and access the Web log kept by her daughter's third-grade teacher, Ellen Robinson.
"People love to know that they can go online and find out what's going on in the classroom," Hendron said. "It's something that can really change the dynamics of communication and give ready access to information parents and students need at home."

Link to article on Richmond Times-Dispatch site

Posted by Raman at 05:49 PM in Edu/Tech | Permalink

February 13, 2006

Play Our Valentine's Day "Cupid Shooting Hearts" Game/Gizmo

To help you get into the Valentine's Day spirit, we've created a fun little game.

Help the mischievous cherub Cupid shoot his arrow through the passing hearts. Drag Cupid into position with your mouse, adjust the angle, and hit the shoot button. The arrow will obey Newton's Laws of Motion as it follows a parabolic path.

screen shot of the game

If everything in this game was random, the histogram would eventually be representative of the area of each type of heart since it is easier to hit a large target. In this case you would have a normal distribution.

However, things aren't always random. Factors such as where you aim, when you shoot the arrow, and the types of hearts actually falling can influence the histogram. The fact that you will have a finite number of data points can also determine the shape of the histogram.

Although the game is mostly for fun for Valentine's Day, there is actually quite a bit of math working behind the scenes, and the game offers teachers a chance to pose various math-related questions to the students.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:27 PM in Fun/Humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 09, 2006

One More New Gizmo!

One more new Gizmo is live, with supporting Exploration Guide and Assessment Questions — it's the Polling: City Gizmo.

This Gizmo provides an interesting study of polls.  How reliable is a given poll for an upcoming election? How likely is it that the outcome predicted in the poll will turn out to be incorrect? What factors increase reliability? Interesting and relevant questions!

Polling: City is a perfect followup to the Polling: Neighborhood Gizmo.

Posted by Dan at 12:07 PM in Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gizmos on Intel-based Macintosh

Last month Apple began selling new computers that make use of an Intel chip. Many software companies are working to update their products to work well with this new technology.

picture of intel iMac Here at ExploreLearning our Gizmos make use of the Shockwave for Director plug-in. If you have one of these brand new Mac's you may have noticed that you can't see the Gizmos. We don't like that at all! We got our hands on a new iMac last week and wanted to let you know that there is a way for you to start viewing the Gizmos!

The developer of this plug-in is Adobe (formerly Macromedia), and they have stated that they are working on updating the plug-in to work "natively" on the new Apple computers, but currently you will have to run in "Rosetta" mode which may slow down your computer a bit. In the future the plug-in will be updated and you will no longer need to follow these steps.

If you have a new Intel-based Macintosh follow these steps to view the Gizmos:

  • Print this page (so you can quit your web browser and continue).
  • Quit the Safari browser
  • In the dock click and hold on the Safari icon
  • Select "Show in Finder"
    picture of intel iMac
  • You will now see the main Safari application
    safari in applications folder
  • With Safari selected choose File > Get Info from the menu, or use Apple-i keyboard combination
  • You will see a checkbox labeled "Open using Rosetta" on the Safari Info panel
  • Select that option
    safari rosetta checkbox
  • Close that window and start Safari by clicking on the icon in the dock
  • You should now be able to view Gizmos!

If you have any problems following these steps you may have to talk with your technology coordinator or teacher. If you are still having any problems be sure to drop a line to customer support and we will work with you to solve the problem.

As the software and technology associated with our content changes we will continue to keep you updated.

Posted by Raman at 09:22 AM in Site Status/Known Issues, Using Gizmos | Permalink

February 07, 2006

Prof Podcasts Lectures

This is a sign of the times, eh?

Psychology students and fans of Apple's popular iPod can now listen and learn at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Calvin Garbin is one of the first instructors at the university to harness iPod's versatility and use it as an educational tool.

Garbin uses a wireless microphone hooked to his shirt to record the 50-minute lecture, then downloads the recording onto his computer. He cuts the lecture into short audio chunks and puts it on his Web site for downloading.

Students confused about certain parts of the lecture can click on a link and listen again. And podcasting makes studying for tests easier for those students who are auditory learners (Yahoo News).

Definitely podcasting is more suited to a psychology lecture than, say, an equation heavy math lecture; however, from my own experience with math classes, I always found it easier to "get" a particular math concept when my own prof/teacher explained it than I did when reading from the book or notes. So I think I would have liked have the audio to go along with my own notes or the prof/teacher's own handouts.

Speaking of Podcasts, our own Thom O'brien has created the first ever ExploreLearning podcast. Give it a listen to hear several teachers talk about their positive experiences with Gizmos.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:32 AM in Edu/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 01, 2006

14 New Gizmos Released!

We are pleased (and more than a bit relieved) to announce the arrival of 14 new Gizmos. These Gizmos span a variety of topics, from electrostatics to statistics to human health and perception.

Several of the new Gizmos complement other recently released simulations. For example, the Bohr Model of Hydrogen Gizmo is a perfect follow-up to the Bohr Model: Introduction Gizmo released last week. Advanced Circuits provides some challenging problems for students who have mastered the Circuits Gizmo.

Evolution has been a hot topic in the news media lately, and we are proud of our two new Gizmos that explore the connections between evolution and population genetics: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium and Microevolution.

We also have great news for any math teachers who have felt neglected by our science focus this year. Polling: Neighborhood, Populations and Samples and the soon to be completed Polling: City provide a great sequence in statistics and probability. Logarithmic Functions: Translating and Scaling provides a more advanced follow-up to our current logarithm activities. And don't forget the math applications that can be found in many of our science Gizmos!

Here is a complete list of our new Gizmos:

Posted by krosenkrantz at 11:01 AM in Site Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)