February 26, 2009
Case Study: An Interview with Jacob Hesselschwardt
Jacob Hesselschwardt teaches mathematics in Northwest, LA.
He uses Gizmos regularly, and they have been particularly inspirational in preparing his students for the regional MathCounts competition, in which they placed first in the parish!
We are very grateful that Jacob could spare some time to talk to us about Gizmos!
Let's learn more about how Jacob uses Gizmos in his teaching by asking him a few questions:
How did you first hear about ExploreLearning?
I came to hear of ExploreLearning through an investigation of web virtual manipulatives that I conducted in preparation for a grant proposal.
What were your first impressions of the site and Gizmos when you got access to ExploreLearning.com? What keeps you using Gizmos?
My first impressions of ExploreLearning were that the site is well organized and thus very easy to navigate. I thought that the Gizmos were very appealing and applicable to my students’ studies, and I appreciated the fact that the assessments were clearly written and self graded. I continue to use Gizmos because my students respond well to the virtual manipulative environment and student test scores have shown an increase since we began using Gizmos.
How do you use Gizmos in class? (For example, do students work individually on computers? In pairs? Do you use Gizmos as a demo for the whole class? Do you assign Gizmos as homework?)
Gizmos are used to reinforce and to enrich topics that are taught first in the regular classroom. I discuss the student exploration guides with my students in a whole class setting, students then answer the assessment questions to demonstrate their understanding, and finally, students may perform webquests as follow up.
If you've used other technology and/or teaching methods to cover some of the same math concepts, how do you find that Gizmos help you cover the topic more quickly/easily/more effectively?
Students are able to get a deeper, more personal knowledge of the content through explorations with the Gizmos than what they can through simply using textbooks and workbooks.
How do your students respond to Gizmos?
My students have responded very favorably to Gizmos and look forward to their weekly ExploreLearning time in the school computer lab!
Describe the technology setup in which you use Gizmos. (e.g., Networked classroom? How many computers? Laptops and/or Carts? Projector? Interactive whiteboard?)
My school has a computer lab of 35 computers, and a Promethean ActivBoard,which my students use on a weekly basis for ExploreLearning.
What Gizmo did you have the most success (and/or fun and/or satisfaction) teaching with?
Both my students and I really enjoyed the Beam to Moon (Ratios and Proportions) Gizmo where we compared the weight of items on the earth to items on other planets and the moon.
What was it about these Gizmos that made the lessons successful?
What makes the Gizmos most appealing is the extensive usage of color, graphics, and interactivity available in each Gizmo. The exploration guides are also well written, as are the assessments. I personally appreciate that all assessments are graded by the program – thus the teacher becomes more of a facilitator and the student becomes more of an explorer.
Have you any evidence that you’d like to share on the impact of Gizmos on student learning in your classes?
My students have all witnessed personal growth in their content knowledge of mathematics through the regular use of ExploreLearning Gizmos. I also used ExploreLearning in preparing my students for the regional MathCounts competition, in which they placed first in the parish – the first such title in 20 something years!