November 29, 2010
Join us on Facebook!
Our social media presence keeps expanding! First we set up our Twitter feed, where you can access an ongoing stream of useful information about math and science. Then we turned on our YouTube channel, where you can find videos of teachers and students using Gizmos. Now we've launched a Facebook page that's just about Gizmos.
We are just getting started with Facebook-- this is a great opportunity for you to write on our wall, comment on other posts, and tell your colleagues to visit as well. We want to hear your stories about Gizmos: how you use them, what your students get out of them…whatever you want to share. Visit the ExploreLearning Gizmos page and click on the "Like" button at the top of the page so you can be a part of our growing community.
November 23, 2010
New math curriculum materials published!
Good news, math Gizmo fans - we're updating the curriculum materials for all the secondary math Gizmos now also! Gradually, over the coming months, you'll see the venerable old Exploration Guides replaced with our updated 4-document set of curriculum (Student Exploration sheet, Student Exploration Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary sheet).
The first 3 sets are now live! You can find them by clicking on the "Lesson Materials" link above these Gizmos:
(Note: That last one is a title change. This Gizmo was formerly called "Using Tables, Rules, and Graphs.")
We hope you enjoy the new, enhanced materials! Much more to come...
November 16, 2010
Gizmos Correlated to the Common Core State Standards
ExploreLearning Gizmos are now correlated to the new Common Core Standards for mathematics. The Common Core State Standards Initiative aims to provide a clear and consistent understanding of the knowledge and skills needed for student success in the 21st century. So far 38 states have adopted these standards for both math and language arts.
Of course, Gizmos are already correlated to all state standards and to over 200 leading textbooks. You can easily browse for Gizmos using any of these correlations, or just by entering a key word or phrase in the Search window found on every website page.
November 02, 2010
Donna Abbruzzese: Gizmo Educator of the Month
Donna Abbruzzese is an eighth grade science teacher at Farnsworth Middle School in Guilderland, New York. She teaches with Gizmos in virtually every one of her class units.
Donna uses Gizmos with her eighth graders for everything from exploring characteristics of subatomic particles with Element Builder Gizmo to studying genetics and heredity with Mouse Genetics (Two Traits).
Donna makes good use of the Lesson Materials provided with each Gizmo. She frequently customizes the Student Exploration Sheets to students' abilities. Sometimes she has students load a Gizmo and an Exploration Sheet in two adjacent windows, and complete it as they work through the Gizmo. Students then upload completed assignments to her in electronic format.
“Using the exploration guides, I find that Gizmos are easily adapted and customized for my students. Differentiation is seamless as each guide is separated into different activities, each building on the concept development and understanding. Students are able to follow the guides with ease and respond well to the questions posed.”
Take a look at the wealth of contributions Donna has made to the ExploreLearning Community. From her insightful Gizmo Recommendations to her resourceful user Contributed Lesson Materials, Donna provides lots of ideas for other teachers on ways to incorporate Gizmos into effective science teaching.
Expert's Corner: Understanding Hurricanes
Mario Junco has been with ExploreLearning for four years as a project manager in Miami, Florida. He holds a bachelors degree in Meteorology from Florida State and a Master's Degree in Science Education from Florida International University. Mario taught science for eleven years in Miami Dade and has achieved National Board Certification in Early Adolescent Science.
The Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1st and extends through November 30th each year. Here in Florida, and in other parts of the southern and eastern United States, tropical storms and hurricanes are a threat each year during this time period. The most notable recent example was the 2005 Hurricane Katrina: the sixth strongest overall hurricane in recorded history. It was the most costly natural disaster to date in the United States, causing an estimated $81 billion in property damage. More than 1,800 people lost their lives during the hurricane and subsequent flooding, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane.
Many people in the United States live on or near coastal areas and have to contend with the possibility of these destructive storms each year. Students may wonder how hurricanes form and why their destructive potential is so high. We have several Gizmos that can help you explain concepts related to hurricanes to your students. The Hurricane Motion Gizmo teaches students the real-life skill of tracking hurricanes using latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates.
As a hurricane approaches landfall, weather changes, such as cloud cover, wind speed, wind direction and barometric pressure, start to occur. (As an example, during hurricane Wilma in 2005, the lowest ever recorded barometric pressure of 882 mb was attained). Your students can see how barometric pressure changes by moving a hurricane closer to and further from specific weather stations on the Hurricane Motion Gizmo.
Once students learn about the variables involved in an approaching hurricane, they can conduct an experiment where they attempt to ascertain where an "invisible hurricane" is positioned based on given meteorological data. Teachers can also have students investigate these different weather variables further in the Weather Maps Gizmo and the Coastal Winds and Clouds Gizmo.
The 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons were extremely active, and many debate hotly whether this increase was due to something meteorologists call a multi-decadal cycle of active seasons or global warming. This topic could be fodder for a great discussion in the science classroom after the students have learned about increasing temperatures in the Greenhouse Effect Gizmo.
Making connections that link current events to science curriculum helps students understand both what's happening in the world and the science behind such events better. For more learning activities related to hurricanes and other weather factors, take a look at the Teacher Guides and Student Exploration Guides with any of the Gizmos mentioned above.