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June 19, 2009

ExploreLearning on Capitol Hill

ExploreLearning participated in two Capitol Hill events this week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education & Labor’s “Future of Learning” Hearing and a Capitol Hill Technology Showcase “Bringing the Future of Learning to Schools Today.” These events examined and demonstrated the role of educational technology on the future of teaching and learning. Attendees were treated to some of the best and most innovative educational approaches that are transforming and improving education in America.

Members of Congress, including the Chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, George Miller (CA), experienced firsthand the some of the best educational technologies and tools on the market today, including ExploreLearning Gizmos. We showed Gizmos to many U.S. Representatives and enthusiastic staff members!

A big goal of the day’s events was to demonstrate that federal leadership in educational technology funding is important to improving student achievement and technology literacy. Key federal investment in Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) the eRate, and other programs helps educators meet the needs of 21st century students and ultimately help increase our nation’s future competitiveness.

A link to the press release issued by SETDA and SIIA, hosts of the Technology Showcase, can be found here:  Capitol Hill Showcase

Posted by ExploreLearning at 12:58 PM in Press Clippings | Permalink

Five new sets of enhanced curriculum

As part of our ongoing curriculum enhancement project, five more Gizmos are now outfitted with Teacher Guides, Student Exploration Sheets, Answer Keys, and Vocabulary Sheets. They are

Archimedes Principle

Distance-Time and Velocity-Time Graphs 

Household Energy Usage

Diffusion

Doppler Shift

All new materials are available in Word and pdf formats and can be edited to suit your individual preferences. Enjoy!

Posted by krosenkrantz at 11:34 AM in Site Announcements | Permalink

June 12, 2009

Attend an "Introduction to ExploreLearning Gizmos" Webinar

If you are new to ExploreLearning, or are taking a free trial, learn more about the power of Gizmos by attending a one-hour webinar.

We have two sessions left in June, and then we will be starting it up again at the start of the new school year.

You can sign up for a forthcoming webinar by clicking on one of the links below:

Monday, June 15, 2009, 3.00-4.00pm Eastern time

Monday, June 29, 2009, 7.00-8.00pm Eastern time

For more information on our webinars, please contact support@explorelearning.com.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:28 AM | Permalink

June 08, 2009

Miami Students using Gizmos say: “Now I get it!”

Heather Hodson, a science coach in Miami Central High School, wrote us to comment on the great improvements her science students are making using Gizmos, and to thank ExploreLearning Project Manager Mario Junco for all his hard work. This is what Heather had to say about Mario and Gizmos:

"...It has been wonderful to work with Mario Junco this school year. We really appreciate his helpful site visits. Our Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) Science scores rose dramatically; in fact, we have heard that Miami-Central led the Miami-Dade School District in improvement. Upon reflection of what was done right, the implementation of Gizmos during our FCAT push for success crunch time proved invaluable. We science coaches and teachers used Gizmos to get concepts which were both challenging and essential across to the students. Assessments showed marked improvement in student comprehension.

Mario's Gizmo demonstration of the Pond Ecosystem and its application of independent and dependent variables, brought rigor and showed the effective educational flexibility of a Gizmo. It was extremely gratifying to work with this and other Gizmos, and hear the students say, "Now I get it!"
  
We hope to continue working with you in future years, as we feel that our collaboration will continue to help boost the Science FCAT scores at our school..."


Thank you Heather - It is wonderful to know that Gizmos with Mario’s Project Management leadership are making such a difference at your school.

For more information on ExploreLearning Professional Development opportunities, including Project Management, please visit our PD information page.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:34 PM in Testimonials | Permalink

June 05, 2009

Case Study: An Interview with Charlene Cooper

thumbnail of Charlene Cooper


Charlene teaches 6th grade Physical Science at Rusheon Middle School in Bossier City, Louisiana. She is a National Board Certified teacher in Early Adolescent Science, and is currently in her 9th year of teaching middle school science.

We are very grateful that Charlene could spare some time to talk to us about Gizmos!





Let's learn more about how Charlene uses Gizmos in her teaching by asking her a few questions:

How did you first hear about ExploreLearning?

A math teacher in my school was investigating virtual manipulatives when he came across ExploreLearning. He was very excited to share the site with me!

What were your first impressions of the site and Gizmos when you got access to ExploreLearning.com? What keeps you using Gizmos?

At first, I was very impressed at how user friendly the site was. As I started to explore the Gizmos more, I was impressed with the content and how applicable it was to our current curriculum. I was also excited with what the site could offer my students in terms of manipulating variables in a way that could allow them to easily test and retest their hypothesis.

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?)

I am able to use Gizmos in a variety of ways for my students. I can use Gizmos to help introduce a new concept, reinforce what we are currently studying, or as an enrichment. My favorite way to use Gizmos is in conjunction with a hands on activity! I can use the Gizmo before or after a hands on activity to enrich what we are studying - this helps my students to really develop their science process skills!

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?

Gizmos allow my students to become actively involved in their learning - they are able to manipulate variables, and collect data as they investigate key concepts in physical science. My students have had much more success in making connections to key concepts and real life.

How do your students respond to Gizmos?

We work on Gizmos on a weekly basis – our day to use the computer lab is on a Wednesday. My students always tell me that they can't wait to go to the lab! I've also had positive comments from parents...they tell me that their child has shared the Gizmos with them at home. What I really love to hear is that the students are teaching their parents by going through the Gizmos with them at home!!

Describe the technology setup in which you use Gizmos. (e.g., Networked classroom? How many computers? Laptops and/or Carts? Projector? Interactive whiteboard?)

We are fortunate in our school that we have a computer lab dedicated to science. In our lab we have 35 computers, and a Promethean ActivBoard. My students visit the lab every Wednesday for ExploreLearning.

What Gizmo did you have the most success (and/or fun and/or satisfaction) teaching with?

My students have really enjoyed the Mineral Identification Gizmo and the Circuit Builder Gizmo. I also had success teaching the scientific method through the Growing Plants Gizmo.

What was it about these Gizmos that made the lessons successful?

In the Circuit Builder Gizmo, students were challenged to create a circuit that would make a light bulb light up. After they investigated and practiced this with their Gizmos, they were given the same real components and they applied what they learned to make a real light bulb light. The students enjoyed the Mineral Identification Gizmo because as they went through each mineral, they found that they were improving how they took their data and then identified the mineral based on the data. I like this Gizmo because it reinforced density and important science process skills. The Growing Plants Gizmo helped reinforce the importance of proper experimental design. As they progressed through this Gizmo, students were able to understand why they should only change one variable at a time.

Have you any evidence that you’d like to share on the impact of Gizmos on student learning in your classes?

I have seen an increase in student interest level in science. My students this year are more inclined to look for more information on their science topics. For example, we completed the Measuring Motion Gizmo where students measure the speed of different animals. This Gizmo sparked so much curiosity that my students started investigating these animals to find out more information on how fast (or slow) they were in real life. Although I was not planning it, this became an opportunity for students to share their findings and then compare their research with what they learned from the Gizmo.

Do you have any other comments or statements that you’d like to make about Gizmos?

As a middle school science teacher, I strive to build science confidence in my students. I don't want for any of my students to feel that they are "not good at science." Gizmos have helped students to develop their understanding of science. Students are able to see that if they don't understand something in science, they can design an experiment in a way to help make sense of their questions. As one young lady sat at her computer working on the Mineral Identification Gizmo, I noticed that she was really strengthening her science process skills and understanding how to identify the mineral based on her data. I commented that she had correctly identified her last 6 minerals and she said to me, ”Mrs. Cooper, I finally found something that I am good at!” I have a deep appreciation for the way that Gizmos have helped me build confident science students!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:26 AM in Case Studies | Permalink

June 04, 2009

Online Gizmo Training - a great success in Dekalb County, GA...

Victoria Barbour, a teacher in Dekalb County, GA, wrote to us expressing her thanks for a great online training session with Gizmos:

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!....with the new found tactics and techniques you demonstrated and modeled so perfectly, I am excited about incorporating it all into my lessons!...You Rock!"

We are delighted that Victoria has had a great experience with the online Gizmo training in Dekalb, and this has been replicated throughout Dekalb, with great results, as Dr. Trinna McKay, who is an ExploreLearning Certified Trainer explains....

"Teachers in Dekalb have had access to Gizmos for two years, and there has been a focused effort to make sure that everyone is trained with Gizmos. All department chairs are encouraged to make sure all teachers are using Gizmos.

After teachers began using Gizmos, there were increases in Biology & Physical Science EOCT (end of course test) results, and in general, Dekalb science scores have been above or near the state average in each high school. The success of Gizmos as a product and its alignment to the state performance standards made it an easy product to use for all teachers."


Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:54 PM in Testimonials, Training and Professional Development | Permalink

Gizmos has been the best for interactive concepts…

We have received some great feedback from Kristi Schmitter. Kristi is a teacher in Page Unified School District in Arizona, and has been using Gizmos regularly with great success:


"Gizmos has been the best for interactive concepts geared to mathematics…Gizmos is a true virtual manipulative for mathematics with assessment results…Gizmos are researched based.

It would be a great loss if we did not have Gizmos for Math and Science....Gizmos is the only program left for intensive interactive instruction on math concepts which is so important for this level of student and the great technological computer age…"


Thanks for your wonderful comments, Kristi!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:50 AM in Testimonials | Permalink

June 03, 2009

Case Study: An Interview with Linda Koch

thumbnail of Linda Koch

Linda has been working for Maine School Administrative District #75 (MSAD 75) for almost 12 years and has worn many hats. She started work in education as a substitute teacher when her children were young and then as a Title One tutor for several years. She is now a staff member for the MSAD 75 Gifted and Talented Support Services and coordinates, delivers, and manages most of the programs and services they deliver to teachers and students in their district.

We are very grateful that Linda could spare some time to talk to us about Gizmos!




Let's learn more about how Linda uses Gizmos in her teaching by asking her a few questions:

How did you first hear about ExploreLearning?

I was talking with a co-worker about my search for an enrichment program for higher level elementary school math students. She told me about ExploreLearning and how she was using it with her 7th grade science class with great success. I checked out the program and I was so impressed with Gizmos, we purchased a license and included it in our menu of Gifted/Talented Programming options.

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 were visual; the site was colorful, it had a well designed layout, it was user friendly, and easy to navigate - all important aspects to tech savvy kids! The Gizmo choices are endless and the quality of every Gizmo is superb. My GT students are never bored and always find Gizmos that are interesting and challenging.

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?)

Since I travel between 6 schools, I often work with small groups of 3-4 students. This more intimate setting allows students to work at appropriate levels and choose Gizmos that not only correlate with their current math or science units, but also challenge their thinking. Students will also discuss Gizmos and share ideas and strategies with each other in this smaller setting. Some of the conversations have been very rich.

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?

I work with teachers to help support their advanced learners with differentiation options. When these learners finish early or pretest out of a unit, Gizmos provide activities to further challenge the students within the topic area or beyond. I have had a few students share their Gizmo activities and outcomes with their classmates as a project.

How do your students respond to Gizmos?

ALL of the students I work with love Gizmos because they feel like they are playing a game. There are so many choices, they always find activities that are interesting and valuable to their learning. I had one student who was worried about upcoming testing and the fact that her teacher didn't have time to teach them about Stem-and-Leaf Plots before the test. She browsed and found a Gizmo for Stem-and-Leaf Plots and taught herself by using the Gizmo.

Describe the technology setup in which you use Gizmos. (e.g., Networked classroom? How many computers? Laptops and/or Carts? Projector? Interactive whiteboard?)

I usually use a projector in the computer lab to walk students through the Gizmo warm up. They then work either in pairs or independently on desktops or laptops.

What Gizmo did you have the most success (and/or fun and/or satisfaction) teaching with?

My math student's favorites are Treasure Hunter, Cannonball Clowns, City Tour, and 3D & Orthographic Views. The top science Gizmos so far are Gravity Pitch, and Inheritance.

What was it about these Gizmos that made the lessons successful?

The students were exposed to 2-3 different ways to view the information, such as the number lines in Treasure Hunter. Not only could they see the distance in a map view, but they had to place a marker on a number line to collect their treasure. They also liked earning a reward for their efforts.

Have you any evidence that you’d like to share on the impact of Gizmos on student learning in your classes?

I have no concrete evidence at this time, but I can say that after tracking math scores of students who used Gizmos, they had some of the highest scores and the greatest percentage increases from Fall to Spring.

Do you have any other comments or statements that you’d like to make about Gizmos?

I have yet to find a better product for the advanced learners I work with. It is easy, they love it, they are learning, they never complain about being bored, they always find a "new favorite" Gizmo, and since the assessment is right there below the Gizmo, they can see instant results and track their own progress.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:51 AM in Case Studies | Permalink