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January 14, 2010

Arkansas Chooses Gizmos for Middle Schools State-wide

Middle schools across Arkansas now will have the opportunity to use Gizmos! ExploreLearning is partnering with all Arkansas Educational Cooperatives on the project, which has been funded by an Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) award from the Arkansas Department of Education.

“Gizmos will give grade 6-8 students across Arkansas the ability to explore, experiment with and visualize math and science concepts as they learn,” said Teresa Chance, Project Director for the EETT grant's Gizmo implementation.

ExploreLearning looks forward to working closely with the Cooperatives, STEM Centers, and the Arkansas DOE to help fulfill their vision for enhanced math and science instruction across the state.

For more information on this exciting project, read the full press release, read the recent article in THE Journal, or contact ExploreLearning.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 05:29 PM in Press Clippings | Permalink

ExploreLearning at FETC

If you are at FETC in Orlando, stop by our booth #945 to meet our Florida team and take part in a Gizmo demo, today through Saturday. Also plan on attending an on-program presentation featuring Gizmos on Friday at 3:10pm, called "Understanding and Using Technology in Science and Math Classrooms” (Session ID 274). Mention this announcement and take home a FREE Gizmos water bottle, or other Gizmo goodie!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:55 PM in Road Trips | Permalink

January 05, 2010

Richard Feay: Gizmo Educator of the Month

Richard Feay is our first Gizmo Educator of the Month. His love of Gizmos is infectious. Richard is a former teacher who just retired as a Tech Integration Coach for LAUSD (Los Angeles Unified). He has used Gizmos with students for years in the classroom, and he has spread the word to other educators during professional development and training sessions. Richard put things in perspective this way,

"I have always wanted to shout from the rooftops about my favorite Gizmos - and the new site features enable me to do just that - plus I get to see what others are doing."

Richard is a top contributor using the Community Features at ExploreLearning.com. He has submitted 6 Shared Class Gizmo Lists and 6 Gizmo Recommendations, which would benefit math and science teachers from grade 3 all the way through high school!

So, what are the top Gizmo picks of our Educator of the Month?

The Systems of Linear Equations - Activity A Gizmo is great for helping students visualize this difficult algebra concept. They can actually manipulate the variables and constants within the two equations and immediately see the effects of changes - and finally say "Now I understand!"

The Element Builder Gizmo allows students to build atoms by adding protons, neutrons, and electrons. As they do this, the element symbol, atomic number, mass number, charge, and electron dot diagram can be displayed.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:22 PM in Case Studies | Permalink

Expert's Corner: Function Machines

Dan Moriarty

Dan Moriarty is a curriculum writer and editor for ExploreLearning, and is also our chief Gizmo video producer. He holds a Master's degree from the University of Virginia in secondary math education, and he taught high school math before joining ExploreLearning.

Functions are a topic that math teachers at many levels teach. Linear, quadratic, cubic, absolute value, trigonometric… these are all different types of functions that students encounter as they advance through their studies.

But what is a function? All too often, the definition sounds something like this: "A function is a relation between a set of elements called the domain and a set of elements called the range (or co-domain), that maps each element in the domain with exactly one element in the range." This definition is technically true, of course, but to most kids, it doesn't make much sense.

So, math teachers search for a simpler way to present this concept, often characterizing them as "input-output machines." An input value goes in, the function machine does something to it, and it comes out as a single output. This works well, but how do you SHOW kids this?

Three related Gizmos - Function Machine 1, Function Machine 2, and Function Machine 3 - provide a nice introduction to functions, using the "input-output machine" theme. For starters, students can select a pre-set machine and send input numbers through it as a guessing game. What is that machine’s function? What does it do to each input number?

Gizmo screenshot

Students can then program their own machines - but not display the function - and challenge their classmates to figure out their function. They can get more advanced as well. The machines are stackable, so they can experiment sending input numbers though multiple machines. This illustrates the concept of composite functions.

Gizmo screenshot

In addition, these input-output pairs can be displayed as points on a graph. This is a perfect way to begin making the connection between a data table and a graph, which is the first step toward graphing functions.

For more ideas on teaching with the Function Machine Gizmos, take a look at the Teacher Guide and the Student Exploration Guide, found in each Gizmo's Lesson Materials. In addition, we have just published a new Teaching with Gizmos: Function Machines movie on our Videos page. All of these short videos help demonstrate how to easily use Gizmos in your classroom.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:18 PM in Math (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink