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January 24, 2011

New lesson materials - 3 fractions Gizmos

We've added new Lesson Materials -- Student Exploration sheet, Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocab sheet -- for 3 more math Gizmos!

Part-to-part and Part-to-whole Ratios

Improper Fractions and Mixed Numbers

Fractions with Unlike Denominators

As usual, these Lesson Material documents are available as both Word docs and pdf's.  (Word doc form allows you to edit the documents yourself.  The pdf gives you the same document in a smaller filesize, but it is not editable.)

Hope these new materials enhance your use of Gizmos! More to come.

Posted by Dan at 11:15 AM in Help (User Support), Site Announcements, Using Gizmos | Permalink

January 13, 2011

Gizmos promote active learning

One of the most rewarding parts about being an educator is the moment when your teaching helps unlock new concepts in students' minds.  What can be even more rewarding is when students then challenge themselves to learn even more. As teacher Amy Barrieau has discovered, Gizmos encourage students to take their understanding to this next level:

"I've had much success with Gizmos thus far and some great feedback from students and parents alike...Gizmos encourage cognitive flexibilty in the way [they] require students to question, explore, test and discover in multiple ways.  The simulations are accurately based on real life tests and students challenge themselves to find new combinations of variables to accomplish a goal."

Amy Barrieau
New Brunswick School District 16, Canada

While other products are "sit and receive", passive tools, Gizmos promote active learning. Students can experience phenomena virtually and connect classroom learning with the real world.

Posted by Erika Sims at 11:23 AM in Testimonials | Permalink

January 12, 2011

Jeffrey Rich: Gizmo Educator of the Month

Jeffrey RichJeffrey Rich teaches several levels of Environmental Science and Biology at Edward H. White High School in Jacksonville, Florida. He has been teaching high school science for five years and is also on the adjunct faculty at nearby Fortis College. Jeffrey is also a track and cross country coach.

He recently started using Gizmos and has become an avid fan. “I have only been involved for a short time, but the way my students are engaged in them and the way they help me explain a topic is priceless.”

Diffusion GizmoJeffrey used the Diffusion Gizmo to help his students understand why diffusion takes place. After a hands-on experiment, he turned to the Gizmo to enable his students to visualize what was happening at the molecular level. Immediately, his students could see that the molecules' constant motion enabled them to move from one area to another without the help of an external force.

Mr. Rich has already contributed several shared class Gizmo lists and Lesson Materials to the ExploreLearning community. Two of his lists are on cell structure topics and include the Diffusion Gizmo. Subscribers and free trial users can check out his contributions for ideas on how to incorporate this Gizmo and other Gizmos into their teaching.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:02 PM | Permalink

Expert Corner: Piecewise Functions

Betty KorteBetty Korte is a Regional Professional Development Manager for ExploreLearning. Her credentials include 17 years teaching mathematics, with 14 years as the department chairperson, and a M.S. in Education with an emphasis in teaching mathematics.

Rainfall and Bird BeaksOne of the most exciting aspects of Gizmos is their versatility. I recently watched a colleague demonstrate the Rainfall and Bird Beaks Gizmo and participated in an excellent discussion on natural selection. I thought that a statistics teacher could use the very same Gizmo to study distribution and variance. I worked with the Fraction Artist Gizmo at the elementary math level recently as well, visualizing a high school teacher using the simulation to introduce infinite geometric series (with |r| < 1) in Algebra II.

The Distance-Time Graphs Gizmo has a seemingly endless array of pre-Algebra and Algebra applications, from graph sense to linear theory. Its strength lies in its simplicity. Students discuss (or model) the actions of the runner relative to the graph. Through these discussions, they construct meaningful definitions for such abstract concepts as rate of change, y-intercept, and parallel lines.

Distance-Time Graphs GizmoBecause the runner can change speeds and direction during the simulation, higher-level concepts can also be introduced. For instance, an Algebra II topic that challenges many students is piecewise functions. A piecewise function is simply a function whose definition changes depending on the input value. In theory, this is not difficult for students, but the notation can be overwhelming, especially if it is presented too early in the learning process. A better way to structure the learning is to allow the students to develop a concrete understanding of the function and then move to the abstract formulation.

Students first create a scenario where the runner changes speed or direction during the simulation. They describe what they see in words then translate these descriptions into algebraic sentences with increasing precision. Once this step is complete, they are ready to use the complex notation that defines the function. Because they construct the notation themselves, it no longer seems difficult. Students should also be able to come full circle and create a graph or scenario from the notation.

Watch the video "Using Distance Time Graphs to Study Piecewise Functions" for further details.

Apart from the stated lesson objectives and the curriculum correlations, there are many more "outside the box" uses for Gizmos.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:59 PM in Math (Real World), Using Gizmos, Video | Permalink

January 10, 2011

Ontario Gizmos implementation exceeds expectations

We have renewed and expanded our partnership with Ontario’s Ministry of Education. Over the past three years, the demand for Gizmos from Ontario’s school boards has been strong, with more teachers and students using Gizmos every day. Gizmos are now being utilized in 2,300 schools serving over 250,000 students. The new partnership agreement provides full coverage of math and science in grades 7-12, and we expect another record setting year in the province!

Read the full press release on our parent company's website.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:41 AM in Press Clippings | Permalink

A Great Year for Gizmos

Training We stepped back to look at what we had accomplished in 2010, and we found it was a banner year for Gizmos!

Last year our dedicated Professional Development staff trained almost 14,000 teachers. They either took part in one of our recommended initial training sessions or helped build their ability to integrate Gizmos into their curriculum. These customized programs of support now include onsite consultations, curriculum alignment assistance, and project management services. Visit our Training page for more information. 

Gizmos are now helping to improve instruction in classrooms all over the world. We are in all 50 U.S. states and more than thirty other countries. We hope 2011 will be even better!

Posted by Ed Pastore at 10:24 AM in Our History, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

January 05, 2011

Gizmos have the "pin drop" effect!

Let's admit it.  Kids today know far more about technology than we ever did at their age. The infusion of technology into virtually every aspect of our lives is something they fully appreciate and understand.  So, it only makes sense to induct technology into classrooms and transform the way kids learn.  What may seem like a daunting learning task can easily be accomplished with Gizmos!  Science teacher Cami Field knows just what a wonderful effect Gizmos has in her classroom: 

"My students love doing Gizmos.  Any activity that uses technology immediately grabs their attention.  They are so involved in the activity that you could hear a pin drop!"

Cami Field
Earth Science Teacher
Portsmouth Public School District, VA

Check out the Research Behind Gizmos and discover some of the reasons why Gizmos are such powerful tools for improving student learning! 

Posted by Erika Sims at 09:38 AM in Testimonials | Permalink