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March 27, 2013

"Abby and the Number Line" in "Teaching Children Mathematics"

1022DETKurt Rosenkrantz, Gizmo designer and curriculum writer for ExploreLearning, wrote a nice piece in the "Backtalk" section of "Teaching Children Mathematics." In "Abby and the Number Line," he describes using the Number Line Frog Hop Gizmo to teach his six-year-old daughter addition and subtraction. 

You can find the full article on the NCTM website.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 12:25 PM in Press Clippings | Permalink

March 20, 2013

ExploreLearning Gizmos: 2013 CODiE Award Finalist

For the eighth straight year, ExploreLearning Gizmos have been nominated as a finalist in the annual SIIA CODiE Awards — this time for Best Science/Health Instructional Solution. 

ExploreLearning Reflex has been named a finalist in two prestigious SIIA CODiE Award categories: Best Mathematics Instructional Solution and Best Education Game or Simulation. We are honored that both our products have been recognized in this elite group. 

Find the full list of 2013 CODiE Award Finalists on the CODiE website.

Read the full press release on our parent company's website.  

Posted by ExploreLearning at 02:21 PM in Press Clippings | Permalink

March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day, from ExploreLearning!

How many diameters does it take to exactly cover the circumference of a circle? And what does this have to do with March 14? If you’re a math person, or just a fan of numerical oddities, I have a feeling you can see where I’m going with this.

It’s Pi Day, boys and girls!

So, first and foremost, please celebrate responsibly. But secondly, celebrate with Gizmos!

Some math Gizmos related to circles, cylinders, and pi:

Circles: Circumference and Area

Prisms and Cylinders - Activity A

Or, if you’d prefer a couple selections from our science Gizmo library:

Measuring Volume

Measuring Trees

So, from the math nerds at ExploreLearning, happy Pi Day to you and your students! We hope you have at least 3.14 times your normal amount of fun in class today.

Posted by Dan at 01:16 PM in Fun/Humor, Math (Real World), Science (Real World), Using Gizmos | Permalink

Like a Gizmo? Please share!

You can now share your Gizmo lists with other educators through email, Facebook and Twitter. When other educators click the link you send, they can quickly import the Gizmo lists you suggest into their class tabs. We hope this new feature makes it even easier to find Gizmos that are useful for your classes!

Stephen Lippa, our ExploreLearning Education Consultant in Canada, thought this feature was so cool that he made a quick video about it to show how it works. Check out the new share function in his video below:


Posted by ExploreLearning at 10:02 AM in Site Announcements | Permalink

March 08, 2013

Expert Corner: Lesson Materials give teachers choices

Dan PicDan 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.

Our curriculum department is extremely busy creating comprehensiveLesson Materials for our math Gizmos this year, after finishing a similar project for the entire science library.

The new Lesson Materials consist of four documents (Student Exploration Sheet, Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary Sheet), each available as either a Word document (for easy editing) or a .pdf (for smaller file size and consistent formatting). The full lesson materials provide teachers with a convenient, ready-to-use lesson plan.

SE PicThe Student Exploration Sheet is ExploreLearning's version of a student worksheet, with an emphasis on inquiry. Every Student Exploration Sheet begins with Prior Knowledge Questions and a short Gizmo Warm-up on page 1. After that, there are usually 2-3 activities from which teachers can choose.

Occasionally, we hear from teachers that the Student Exploration Sheets (SE) are longer than they expect — quite a bit longer than a traditional worksheet, for example. They are often 4-6 pages in total length. But we certainly do not expect teachers to assign an entire Student Exploration Sheet to their students — at least, not all at once.

Typically, we recommend that teachers assign page 1 of the SE plus one activity at a time for students. Depending on the length of the activity, that’s just 2-3 pages total.

We include multiple activities in most SE’s to give teachers options. It’s built-in differentiated instruction! Generally, you should find that Activity A includes “the basics” of the lesson, while later activities address more advanced topics or provide further practice. So, you could assign part of your class page 1 of the SE (prior knowledge questions and the warm-up exercise) plus Activity A, while assigning other students who are ready for more page 1 plus Activity B.

We hope that our Student Exploration Sheets make your job of teaching effectively with Gizmos easier, giving you choices in appropriate material for students.

And, don’t forget that if you use the Word versions of the Student Exploration Sheets, you can further customize them for use in your classroom.

Take a free Gizmos trial and explore our full library of simulations and lesson materials.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:17 AM in Using Gizmos | Permalink

Desiree Hurtado: ExploreLearning Educator of the Month

Desiree HurtadoMs. Desiree Hurtado teaches Biology, Biology Honors and Physical Science (9th and 10th grade) in a high school in Miami-Dade. She has been teaching for two years.

Ms. Hurtado uses Gizmos to both reinforce lab experiments and to increase understanding with alternative activities in class. With the Plants and Snails Gizmo, she first had students do a hands-on experiment in class. Students prepared four beakers with water and bromothymol blue indicator. Students added Elodea plants to the first, Elodea and snails to the second, snails to the third, and nothing to the fourth. Students collected data from the experiment, and then discussed the relationship between photosynthesis and respiration.

Plants and snails GizmoMs. Hurtado then led them through the Plants and Snails Gizmo, and students were able to immediately understand how to manipulate the variables in the simulation. The Gizmo helped students see how carbon is essential to the function of organisms, and why organic compounds are required by organisms to live. Then students completed the quick, 5-question assessment online for practice with individual reading and comprehension. The Gizmo helped students see that oxygen produced by plants is essential for animals, and how carbon dioxide produced by animals is essential for plants.

Ms. Hurtado finds it both fun and easy to get creative with Gizmos. With the Dichotomous Keys Gizmo, she first used the Gizmo in class as a technology-based lab. She provided the students with the student worksheet, and introduced dichotomous keys. After Ms. Hurtado modeled the first organism, she had students come up one-by-one to identify the next organism, as the other students annotated the genus and species of each.Beverly

Then she asked her students to create their own dichotomous keys using the images from the Gizmo. Students took "screen shots" of the organisms with the Gizmo camera tool and created their own dichotomous keys on colored paper. Students presented them in class, and then Ms. Hurtado displayed them on the walls. Students from other classes became interested in the dichotomous keys made by their friends, and they played around with identifying the organisms from other classes.

Ms. Hurtado feels that Gizmos are excellent for engaging students, especially since students today are so comfortable learning with technology. She finds that students retain more information after seeing the images and manipulating the variables on the screen. Gizmos allow students “to see things and open up their eyes to ‘that which is invisible.’”

To explore our Gizmos library, take a free trial today.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:11 AM in Case Studies | Permalink

March 07, 2013

New Lesson Materials - 3D geometry, with a splash of statistics

193DETA new batch of math Lesson Materials went live today! This batch features a unique blend of flavors - mostly geometry (volume of three-dimensional figures), but spiced with a dash of statistics (scatter plots and making estimates):

Prisms and Cylinders - Activity A

Pyramids and Cones - Activity B

Solving Using Trend Lines

How do you find the volume of a prism (or its close cousin, a cylinder)? How much "space" does a pyramid take up compared with a prism? (Or, a cone compared with a cylinder?)

Also, what's a scatter plot, and how can you use them to spot trends in data, and then make reasonable estimates or predictions?

These 3 Gizmos (and the newly-published Lesson Materials) are designed to address those topics.

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're now up to 54 high-school- and middle-school-level math Gizmos with updated Lesson Materials, with more to come.

If you'd like to try these Gizmos, or any of the others in our library, you can sign up for a free trial today!

Posted by Dan at 06:01 PM in Site Announcements, Using Gizmos | Permalink