January 28, 2013
LiveScience: The science and research behind ExploreLearning Reflex
Check out this article on ExploreLearning Reflex on the LiveScience news site. The article gives a "Behind the Scenes" look at how Reflex was created, and how it works to improve math fact fluency for students of all ages and levels.
Want to try it out? Take a free 14-day Reflex trial and find out how fun it is.
January 09, 2013
Expert Corner: Coming Next Generation Science Standards
Kurt Rosenkrantz is a science curriculum writer and Gizmo designer for ExploreLearning. Kurt holds a Master of Science in Geology from the University of Cincinnati, and a bachelor's degree in Earth Science from Harvard. He taught high school and middle school science for eight years before joining ExploreLearning in 2005.
For the last two years, Achieve Inc. has been working to develop a set of national science standards similar to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. The Next Generation Science Standards were built on the previously published book, A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. A major goal of the standards is to integrate scientific practices into the standards themselves while using crosscutting concepts to allow students to make connections among disciplines. This will elevate these new standards above those previously developed that were just checklists of content with separate inquiry or science process standards. By integrating the practices into the standards themselves, the way that students learn cannot be unraveled from the content they learn.
So far, 26 states have committed to be lead partners in the development of the standards. The lead state partners have worked with Achieve to develop the standards and will give “serious consideration” to adopting the standards when they are completed. Click here to see if your state is on the list. It is quite possible that additional states will adopt the new standards once they are finalized.
On Tuesday, January 8, the second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released for public comment. The public comment period will last until January 29, 2013. The final draft of the standards is planned for release in late March.
Gizmos are a great fit for the proposed science standards. Gizmos allow students to engage in inquiry-driven investigations that fulfill the goals of the Standards of Scientific and Engineering Practice, Crosscutting Concepts and Disciplinary Core ideas described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. A great example of this is our Food Chain Gizmo, where students see how populations of producers and consumers fluctuate in an ecosystem. The Gizmo supports the Crosscutting Concept “Stability and Change” and targets DCIs LS1 and LS2.
If you wish to comment on the second draft of the NGSS, click here. This is a great opportunity to influence the development of new science standards and we urge that you take advantage of it. Here at ExploreLearning we are keeping a close eye on the development of the standards and how our Gizmos fit in. It is likely that much of our future Gizmo development will continue to enhance our alignment to these new science standards and support educators implementing them in classrooms.
Christine Nolan-Dack: ExploreLearning Educator of the Month
Christine Nolan-Dack is a technology resource teacher for grades 3-5 at Boca Raton Elementary School. She has been a teacher for 16 years and has taught a variety of classes, including technology, art, ESE, and ESOL education.
Mrs. Nolan-Dack has used Gizmos for three years and Reflex for one year. She coordinates with classroom teachers, choosing Gizmos that expand on what students are learning in the classroom. Mrs. Nolan-Dack reports that Gizmos provide opportunities for practice, hands-on learning, and enhanced understanding. By collaborating with classroom teachers, she has been able to provide individualized instruction with Gizmos, allowing more students to master difficult concepts.
Mrs. Nolan-Dack’s students particularly like some of the math Gizmos that mix humor with a clear presentation of concepts, including Fido’s Flower Bed (Perimeter and Area) and Cannonball Clowns (Number Line Estimation).
Boca Raton Elementary also adopted ExploreLearning Reflex last year as part of a pilot project. Mrs. Nolan-Dack started using Reflex with only a few students, but demand from teachers and students quickly increased. Before long, 192 students were enrolled in Reflex. Students talked about the program to each other, and parents called to find out more. Mrs. Nolan-Dack says she has never seen an educational program engender a response like that before! Over the course of the pilot, students' overall math fact fluency rose by an average of 40 percentage points.
Thanks in part to Gizmos and Reflex, Boca Raton Elementary had some of their strongest FCAT scores ever, with scores rising over 25% from the previous year. It was also impressive that scores rose most prominently for those in the lowest quartile. Mrs. Nolan-Dack is thrilled to be a part of these gains and is looking forward to another great year!
Lesson Materials - 3 new sets - Geometry Gizmos
Happy 2013, Gizmologists! To kick off the new year, we're happy to announce 3 new sets of Lesson Materials. Again, we've been working in the realm of geometry:
As always, our updated Lesson Materials have 4 documents (Student Exploration Sheet, Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary Sheet), each available as a .doc or .pdf. (You'll need to be logged in to see all four documents.)
We hope these materials help your students dig into the concepts of geometry in a real inquiry-based way. Gizmos are great "what if" tools, and the Student Exploration Sheets encourage students to dig into the concepts themselves: What is always true about these figures? Under what conditions?
This bring us up to 48 math Gizmos with updated Lesson Materials. Stay tuned, as we'll keep rolling out more throughout the year!
If you'd like to try these Gizmos, or any of the others in our library, take a free trial today.