October 04, 2012
Expert Corner: A Treasure Map to the Ah-Hah Moment
Laura Chervenak has been with ExploreLearning since 2010 as VP of Professional Development. She has taught high school science, and is the founder and former director of GOAL Digital Academy. Laura is National Board Certified in Science/Adolescence and Young Adulthood, with a B.A. in Zoology and an M.S. in Anthropology.
After two years of helping teachers and students experience Ah-Hah moments with Gizmos, I had my own Ah-Hah moment. I was watching over two math teachers’ shoulders as they browsed the Gizmo library, and I was puzzled as they quickly dismissed student favorites like Cannonball Clowns and Fraction Artist after only a cursory glance.
I approached these teachers and encouraged them to open the Student Exploration Guide for the two Gizmos they had rejected and see how the lesson builds for the students. As they read through the materials, they both began to nod their heads and one turned to me and said, “Oh! I get it now! You are right, this is really great.”
The Gizmos themselves provide rich visual and interactive fun for kids (and adults) as they learn math and science concepts. Sometimes the accompanying Lesson Materials can be overlooked.
Think of it this way - if you were to arrive on an island where there were valuable gems hidden among the landscape, it might take you a while to find them if you began your search in the wrong place. And your chances of hitting the big jackpot would be smaller if you didn't understand the bigger picture. Think how much easier and more rewarding it would be if you had a treasure map to guide you as you explored. Similarly, the Gizmo Lesson Materials provide teachers and students with a treasure map to gems of understanding waiting to be revealed within each Gizmo.
The Teacher Guides help the instructor to plan a lesson or series of lessons using Gizmos in combination with other activities to meet desired learning objectives. Here, teachers can find rich discussion questions, real-world connections, follow-up activities, and scientific or mathematical background relating to the Gizmo.
The Student Exploration Sheets scaffold the students' experience through a Gizmo from exploring and making simple observations to developing deeper understanding. With multiple activities in each Exploration Guide, they also make differentiation of classroom activities much simpler. And because they are available as editable documents, teachers can customize them to meet the specific learning objectives that are needed.
So as you browse for Gizmos, don’t neglect the treasure maps that go with them – the Lesson Materials. Your students will come away with Ah-hah moments of their own, and be richer for the experience.