March 19, 2012
Gizmos are 2012 CODiE Award Finalists for Best Mathematics Instructional Solution
For the seventh straight year, ExploreLearning Gizmos have been nominated as finalists in the annual SIIA CODiE Awards — this time for Best Mathematics Instructional Solution. We are honored to be recognized in this elite group again this year.
March 07, 2012
New Lesson Materials for 3 math Gizmos!
We've published new Lesson Materials for 3 math Gizmos:
These 3 Gizmos help students with some fairly advanced topics. Unlike most Gizmos, these are very procedure-focused rather than exploratory. We ask students to work through the steps of a problem, one-by-one, with careful feedback given for any incorrect choices. Each Gizmo will always start with the same 2 problems (which are addressed specifically in the Lesson Materials), and then are randomized after that, to allow for nearly unlimited practice.
As usual, each set of updated Lesson Materials includes 4 documents (Student Exploration sheet, SE Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary sheet), all of which are available as a .doc or a .pdf. (Note: You will need to be logged in to see all the documents.) These replace the older html Exploration Guides.
We're now up to 23 math Gizmos that have updated Lesson Materials (63 total, if you include the purple "elementary" math Gizmos which already had them). We also have plenty more "works in progress" going on in the background.
Enjoy! And stay tuned for more in the coming weeks and months.
March 06, 2012
Expert Corner: Pi Day
Dan Moriarty is a curriculum writer and editor for ExploreLearning, and our chief "demo movie" maker for Gizmos and Reflex. He holds a Master's degree from the University of Virginia in secondary math education, and he taught high school math before joining ExploreLearning.
Well, March 14 is nearly upon us again. You can refer to March 14 as “3-14” if you’re into shorthand. And of course that makes us mathy types think about π (“pi”), which equals about 3.1415926535…, or if you are okay with rounding, just 3.14.
Of course Pi Day isn't just for the math crowd, since this irrational number plays a big role in many science lessons as well. If you’d like to celebrate Pi Day with your students, Gizmos can help.
Basically, the number π shows up whenever you want to measure something circular. Or more generally, whenever you measure anything involving or derived from circles; such as cylinders or sine waves. So if your students are not familiar with π yet, just start by showing them a circle. It could be a plate or a jar-lid or anything else that is basically flat and circular. Review these questions with them:
- What is the diameter of a circle? (Distance across the circle.)
- What is the circumference? (Distance around the circle.)
- And then the kicker... how many diameters would it take to exactly cover the circumference?
The answer to that last question is of course π — thus the formula C = πd — but if students have never seen this before, it could be pretty surprising. The Circles: Circumference and Area Gizmo allows students to explore this relationship quite nicely. For further extension, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics offers a nice lesson plan around this sort of exploration with real objects.
The Measuring Trees Gizmo gives students a chance to learn about tree rings, as well as delving into an ecology lesson. The Gizmo also allows students to measure a tree's diameter (which is pretty tough in real-life without cutting the tree down!) and its circumference. This is another place that students can discover and use the C = πd formula in context.
Finally, one of our newest Gizmos is well-suited for Pi Day. The Measuring Volume Gizmo allows students to find the volume of liquids and solids. They can determine the volume of some solid 3-dimensional figures using formulas. They will discover that the formulas for the volume of a sphere and of a cylinder, since they are circular, involve π. In addition, they'll use the "submerge it in water" technique for finding the volume of irregularly shaped objects.
So, we hope that Gizmos can find a place in your Pi Day celebrations on March 14! And as always, if you celebrate with Gizmos, please do so responsibly. : )
Sam Olivieri, PhD: ExploreLearning Educator of the Month
Sam Olivieri, PhD, or "Dr. O" as his students refer to him, teaches sixth grade science at Sugar Land Middle School in Texas. He has worked in 70 countries with the Agency for International Development, and he has been teaching in Fort Bend for the past six years.
Dr. O loves teaching the sixth grade because it is his students' first year of having a dedicated science class. He sees it as his mission to bring the subject alive for them, so that by the end of the year they have a lasting love of science. Not surprisingly, he makes Gizmos a central part of his instruction and has been recognized as a Gizmo Leader for the past three years.
Here is an example of how Dr. O uses Gizmos to enrich his students' science experience. When students have completed the Assessment Questions on a Gizmo such as Rock Cycle, each student is assigned one of the questions to present in a multi-media format. Dr. O video-tapes the students presenting their assigned question and giving the solution process in his or her own words! At the end of the year, each student burns a disc of those presentations and takes home a lasting video record of his or her own science expertise!
"I love using Gizmos with my students, as they allow my students to interact with numerous science concepts which are difficult to bring into the classroom. Gizmos gives them hands-on experiences with real science. It is my mission to have every one of my students leave at the end of the year loving science, and Gizmos helps me to bring that love of science to them."