September 30, 2010
Tweet for a Chance to Win Gizmos
ExploreLearning is now on Twitter! To celebrate, we're giving away prizes, including three goodie bags full of great Gizmo merchandise (pictured below), and one grand prize: a one-year Teacher-plus-Students subscription to Gizmos.
If you are a teacher or school administrator, just follow these simple steps to be eligible to win:
- Follow @ExploreLearning on Twitter, if you haven't already.
- Post a tweet which starts with "I love @ExploreLearning Gizmos because" (don't forget the @ sign) followed by up to 101 characters of whatever you appreciate most about Gizmos.
- Don't delete that tweet. It has to stay up there for us to find it and enter you in the contest.
- Only teachers, school administrators, and home educators are eligible to win.
On October 8, we will collect all the eligible tweets and select winners at random. We will direct message the winners for follow-up details.
Even if you don't win, following us will give you access to real-time updates on Gizmos, the world of Math and Science, and even what's happening here in our Charlottesville, VA headquarters office. And whenever you tweet something about Gizmos, we're likely to re-tweet your message to our growing list of followers.
"...Limitless opportunities for conceptual and extended learning"
It's always wonderful to hear how much teachers love Gizmos. And it's great to know that the people who support teachers appreciate Gizmos as well.
Leslie Accardo is the Model Schools Coordinator at the Lower Hudson Regional Information Center in New York. She says:
“I have been advocating and supporting the Gizmos in this region to different degrees for quite a number of years. In my experiences in reviewing all genres of instructional products, there are few that I would recommend with such personal excitement, and the Gizmos are one of them. High interest, easily accessible; low learning curve, and multiple entry points for teaching and learning. One Gizmo in the hand of a math/science teacher can provide almost limitless opportunities for conceptual and extended learning.”
That's exactly what we have in mind when we're working on Gizmos, Leslie!
September 24, 2010
Shockwave and Snow Leopard (64-bit) Update
Adobe released an updated version of the Shockwave Plug-in that is compatible with Safari on Snow Leopard (OSX 10.6). In the past you had to set up your browser to run in 32-bit mode, but this is no longer necessary.
However, there are a few issues with this most recent release that will affect a small number of Gizmos. We are working with Adobe in an effort to correct the problems. There are about five Gizmos related to 3D seasons that may cause problems, as well as a two math Gizmos that won't show an animation correctly. For several Gizmos the "Copy to clipboard" feature will not work properly.
Hopefully these issues can be cleared up in the near future. We'll keep you posted as new information becomes available, and we will also be working to clear up any other problems that are found.
Please note: This is only important to those running OSX 10.6 in 64-bit mode. If you run in 32-bit mode you will not see any of the problems described here.
Update (Oct 1, 2010): Adobe has released an updated version of the Plug-in which resolves the issues with 3D content. There are only a few minor remaining issues that we are working on.
September 21, 2010
Enhanced Gizmos feature inclined planes and vectors
Five new sets of enhanced curriculum materials have been published:
Each set of new curriculum materials includes a Student Exploration Sheet, Answer Key, Vocabulary Sheet, and Teacher Guide. All materials are available in pdf format or as a Word document to allow you to edit and customize the materials for your own needs.
September 07, 2010
Gizmo videos on YouTube
Fourth grade students at Woodside Elementary School in Maine have been posting videos about Gizmos on YouTube. Check out some of the fun content they have made public:
- Cole, clearly a spokesperson-in-training, gives a video demonstration of the Factor Trees Gizmo.
- Josh demonstrates the concept of volume using the Balancing Blocks Gizmo.
- Junie shows number line estimation using the ever-popular Cannonball Clowns Gizmo.
- And, Josh and Junie collaborate on an overview video about Gizmos.
We love seeing Gizmos being used, explored and explained by students, and we would be delighted to see even more! If you make a good video that helps people discover and learn more about Gizmos, consider posting it for others to see on YouTube. Be sure to tag it with #ExploreLearning to make it easy to find. If you drop us a line as well, you may see a mention right here in the EL News.
Wayne Worthley: Gizmo Educator of the Month
Wayne Worthley has been teaching science at Redland Middle School in Florida's Miami-Dade County Public Schools for fifteen years. He teaches several mainstream science sections and vocational agri-science, and he has been using Gizmos since Miami-Dade first partnered with ExploreLearning in 2006.
Although Wayne uses Gizmos in a variety of ways, a favorite is to incorporate Gizmos into his curriculum as reinforcement. He believes Gizmos really help students gain a deeper understanding of science concepts covered by the Florida standards and their science textbook. Wayne often has half of his class work on understanding concepts through Gizmos and the other half through lab activities or writing assignments. This way, students are engaged in a variety of activities to study, and they can break up a long two-hour class period.
Wayne also shared the outstanding results he has seen in his students using Gizmos in preparation for their 2009 science FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test).
“In 2009, I taught about 75 students in Earth Space Science. About 67% of them scored a three or better on the 8th grade science FCAT (state average was only 41%), and I attribute much of their success to the many science Gizmos that they were exposed to that year.”
Wayne especially appreciates the Earth and Space Science Gizmos. His favorite is the Seasons: Earth, Moon, and Sun Gizmo because it visually explains concepts such as day length, sunrise and sunset, temperature, and seasonal change, which are really difficult without great models. Wayne has students use the Gizmo to observe from the perspective of a point near a pole, then run a simulation of a 24-hour period. Students can directly compare the sun's position on the horizon with the alignment of the bodies in space. Even though he also shows them videos of the phenomenan in Barrow, Alaska, he says that students are amazed to watch the Gizmo's simulation of perpetual summer daylight and perpetual winter night.
Expert's Corner: Back-to-school Inquiry Activities
Bridget Mulvey is a science education doctoral student at the University of Virginia. Bridget holds a master's degree in geological sciences from Indiana University at Bloomington, and she taught middle school, high school and college science before starting her doctoral program. Bridget has taught professional development workshops on scientific inquiry and the nature of science and has presented research on whole class inquiry and the nature of science to researchers and teachers at national conferences.
As school gets back into full swing, teachers seek ways to engage students in science and set the tone for the year. One great way to do this is through scientific inquiry instruction using Gizmos!
Whether you're a pro or just getting started, Gizmos support your efforts to develop a positive classroom environment that facilitates inquiry. The simple and fun Pattern Finder Gizmo is accessible to young students yet can still be a great whole-class warm-up activity for older students.
Students observe, predict and then test predictions to identify patterns in frogs' jumps from lily pad to lily pad. Framing students' investigation with a research question such as, "What patterns can you identify in the frogs' jumps?" is a great first step toward inquiry. Students use observations as evidence that they analyze to answer the initial question.
This minds-on activity requires almost no initial scientific content knowledge and therefore offers all students a chance to be meaningful contributors to the class. This helps students see that science is fun and that they can do it.
Because pattern identification helps us make sense of the natural world, this activity can spark great discussions about the nature of science. For example, you could ask students if it is always possible for scientists to perform experiments. This discussion can highlight that direct experiments are not the only way we learn about the natural world. To learn about things out of our immediate reach, such as Earth's history or the cosmos, we can't control variables to actually experiment. When experiments can be performed, however, they are an essential part of science.
For more content-specific Gizmos appropriate for the beginning of the year, try Density Experiment: Slice and Dice. This updated take on a density lab lets students explore a big misconception about density — that size matters. To make this activity inquiry, pose a question such as, "What relationship does size have to mass, volume and density?"
In this Gizmo, students "slice" off portions of aluminum, wood or other material and compare volume, mass and density for different-sized pieces. Students analyze this information to determine the relationships and thereby answer the research question.
These Gizmos support minds-on investigations that involve students in the processes of science. They also encourage students' input, helping students gain confidence in their scientific abilities. What a great way to begin the school year!
September 02, 2010
Start the school year with Gizmos!
Once again, it's that special time of the year: Back to school! The classrooms are spotless, the notebooks are full of crisp paper and the pencils are freshly sharpened. But, the one thing that will get students interested in learning isn't the allure of colorful book covers, it's technology. Follow the lead of middle school teacher Lindsey Blevins and integrate Gizmos in your classroom to keep students engaged the whole year through:
"I found that with the added use of technology, using Gizmos, I reached even a greater percentage of my students because of the varied level of instruction each Gizmo provides. I was able to direct students with specialized learning needs, from basic to advanced...Even those students who may not be technology oriented had an interest in the Gizmos because they were manipulating the learning situation and it became an individualized challenge for them to succeed....ExploreLearning and Gizmos has provided a wonderful technology tool that provides strong differentiated, supplemental instruction."
Middle School Science Teacher
Mountain Home School District 9, AR
There are Gizmos for all learners. Browse our library of over 450 Gizmos by math or science topic, state/provincial standard, or textbook correlation to find the right ones for your classroom!