September 19, 2011
Gizmos provide a rich experience for students
We recently heard from Paul Therrien, Vice Principal at I.V. Macklin Public School in Alberta, and we wanted to share what he had to say about Gizmos in his school:
“Our school has been using Gizmos and our teachers and students love them! Gizmos allow our students and teachers access to science and math demonstrations and labs within seconds. Students are able to easily manipulate variables and conduct experiments that they would not be able to do in class. They also allow students to do experiments outside of the regular classroom and get caught up if they are away from school.
“The Gizmos are easy to use and provide a rich experience for students learning science and math. Gizmos also provide teachers with the ability to differentiate for students with other needs.
“The Circuits Gizmo gives students the flexibly to create electrical circuits virtually and provides students with instant feedback on whether they were successful or not, without having to worry about equipment malfunction.”
Thanks, Paul, and keep up the good work!
September 08, 2011
Anthony Armbrister: Gizmo Educator of the Month
Anthony Armbrister has been a mathematics educator in the Miami-Dade County Public School System for two decades, and for the last ten years he has served as a mathematics curriculum specialist/coach. He holds a B.S. in Mathematics and both an Educational Specialist degree and a Masters degree in Math Education.
He first experienced Gizmos in 2005 and immediately saw the value of simulations that bring math concepts to life. As the Mathematics Coach and Department Chair, he realized a great opportunity for Gizmos.
"…our department designated Computer Lab time for all our Intensive classes to utilize ExploreLearning.com as the lead web-based program for our struggling learners. The results speak for themselves. At least 80% of our lower quartile designated students made 'learning gains' as defined by the the state of Florida quantitative measure."
Concerning his own teaching, Mr. Armbrister points to Geoboard: The Pythagorean Theorem as a particularly useful Gizmo for teaching a traditionally difficult concept. He finds that simply stating that "a squared plus b squared equals c squared" isn't very meaningful to students. However, when they can visualize and then draw actual squares, the idea becomes concrete and easy to apply.
He combines the Geoboard Gizmo with a related physical activity. After his students have explored with the Gizmo, he has them use a protractor to draw a right triangle on construction paper. He then has them draw and cut out the squares of the triangle's sides, as they had learned about in the Gizmo. Then he has them cut up the two smaller squares to make them fit into the larger square, giving them physical proof of the theorem.