February 13, 2013
Clayton Ellis: ExploreLearning Educator of the Month
Clayton Ellis OCT, is head of science at David Suzuki Secondary School, Peel District School Board in Brampton, Ontario. He has taught for 16 years, and has collaborated with colleagues to support science teaching in the province. He has been the primary author on several science and biology textbooks.
Years ago Mr. Ellis was looking for innovative technologies that would engage his students. After one of his classes tried out Gizmos for the first time in 2004, he became convinced that he had found an extremely effective supplemental tool for teaching science.
When Mr. Ellis teaches genetics to his high school students, he uses the Human Karyotyping Gizmo. In the past, his students had started the learning process on this topic by cutting out 46 photocopied chromosomes. Inevitably the students would lose some of the pieces of paper, and the activity that should have taken only 45 minutes stretched out to two days. The Human Karyotyping Gizmo allowed students to see the colour coded chromosomes and determine the disorders after a thorough analysis.
Without having to cut out the karyotypes on paper, the students had the additional time they needed to do the analysis. Mr. Ellis was then able to incorporate a genetic disorder roundtable into his class, and students included a karyotype of a problem in their presentation.
Mr. Ellis plans to run a Science Olympics competition later this year where students will compete against each other in a variety of science activities. One of the planned activities will involve the Mineral Identification Gizmo. The students will be using the Gizmo to compete against each other to see how quickly and accurately they can identify minerals.
Using Gizmos also has allowed Mr. Ellis to accommodate the needs of various learners in his classroom. He finds that some students need a great deal of time to initially grasp fundamental concepts, while others are quickly ready for more complex tasks that allow them to gain a deeper understanding. Gizmos are perfect for this type of differentiation and have become a fundamental part of Mr. Ellis’ layered lessons for all students.