April 25, 2013
ExploreLearning Gizmos nominated for two AEP Awards
We are pleased to announce that ExploreLearning Gizmos has been named a finalist in the 2013 Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Awards. One of the largest and longest-running programs of its kind, the AEP Awards are widely recognized by educators, administrators, and parents as a mark of outstanding educational value.
Gizmos is a finalist in these categories:
- Distinguished Achievement Award: Supplemental Resources/ Best Science solution
- Distinguished Achievement Award: Supplemental Resources/ Best Math solution
Winners will be announced June 4th at the AEP Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C.
See the complete list of AEP Award Finalists.
April 17, 2013
Expert Corner: Next Generation Science Standards
Laura Chervenak has been with ExploreLearning since 2010, and she is currently the 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.
The Next Generation Science Standards were released in their final form just as thousands of teachers and administrators were arriving in San Antonio, Texas for the 2013 NSTA National Conference. Conversations and presentations around the new standards were found in almost every room and hallway as educators gathered information to take back to their districts.
You may also be asking yourself, “Now that the standards are final, what steps should we be taking to prepare for adoption and implementation?” Here are five steps you can take to get up-to-speed.
Dive deeply into the Framework for K-12 Science Education.Students don’t study the law before they understand the Constitution. They don’t study medicine before they take anatomy. Similarly, science educators need to understand the foundation of the new standards as it is laid out in the three dimensions of the Framework — the Disciplinary Core Ideas, the Standards of Scientific and Engineering Practices, and the Crosscutting Concepts.
Study the architecture of the Next Generation Science Standards. Ted Willard’s article, “A Look at the Next Generation Science Standards,” provides an overview and diagram of the information contained in the standards. This article will explain that these standards are written as performance expectations, which describe what students should be able to do at the end of instruction.
Find the grade level(s) you are most interested in and take a look. Now that you know how the standards are structured, download the PDF of the standards arranged by topic. This format will help you to see the big picture for your chosen grade level(s). Read the Storyline first to see a summary of the performance expectations and then move on to the detailed NGSS Boxes for the grade level(s). Don’t read the performance expectations in isolation! Be sure to include the clarification statements, assessment boundaries, and foundation information from the three dimensions of the Framework.
Review the appendices. The authors of the NGSS provide a wealth of information in the appendices to the NGSS. Depending on your personal interest, they are all worth reading, but if you are pressed for time you should make a few your priority. First, if you are still grappling with the idea of performance expectations, or if you are wondering just what the authors were thinking when they were writing the standards, you should read Appendix A, Conceptual Shifts. It is an excellent description of the philosophies that guided the development of the standards. Appendices E-J describe the progressions through each grade band endpoint, showing the increase in content and skill sophistication from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Learn from others. Talk with colleagues. Join an NGSS study group or PLN. Attend webinars. Read journal articles. Attend conferences and workshops. This summer, ExploreLearning is sponsoring the NSELA Next Generation Science Standards Leadership Institute in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. NSTA also offers many different ways to learn more about the NGSS at www.nsta.org/ngss.
Gizmos are a great vehicle to address the new science standards in your classroom. Gizmos allow students to engage in inquiry-driven scientific investigations, as well as help students develop a deep understanding of all the core ideas.
ExploreLearning is ready to be your partner in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. If you haven't delved into Gizmos yet,take a free trial and see how well they help prepare you for the next generation in science teaching and learning.
Julie DeBoer: ExploreLearning Educator of the Month
Julie DeBoer is a 5th grade science teacher at an elementary school in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Texas and has been teaching for six years.
When you enter Julie DeBoer’s classroom, you will often find the students engaged in exploring science concepts with Gizmos. This consistent use of Gizmos in her classroom is the reason why Ms. DeBoer has been awarded the title of Cy-Fair’s Outstanding Elementary Gizmo User for the past two years. Ms. DeBoer‘s students have found great success in developing their conceptual understanding of science through the meaningful explorations Gizmos provide.
Ms. DeBoer loves that Gizmos allow her to simulate an experiment that they might not be able to do in class. “The students love doing Gizmos because they get so much out of it, and the lesson is no longer just me talking and telling them about science concepts,” she says.
One of her favorite Gizmos is“Seasons: Why do we have them?” The Gizmo shows students how rays of light affect the temperature on earth, and why it is hotter in the summertime. “As soon as we do the Gizmo together and they are on their own, the students understand direct and indirect rays and how those rays are associated with the seasons.” She also likes to use the Moon Phases Gizmo since it helps her students understand the relationship between the moon phases and how they change.
Ms. DeBoer uses Gizmos every day in her Science Rotations. She makes sure that her students encounter science concepts in a multitude of ways. Through the various uses of Gizmos for introductory, exploratory, conceptual building, and refresher experiences, Mrs. DeBoer brings science learning to life throughout the teaching and learning cycle. By varying the means in which students experience Gizmos, including as an individual, as partners, in small groups, and as a whole group, every student has the opportunity to work within his or her optimum learning style.
Ms. DeBoer successfully brings together tried and true teaching strategies, ongoing and varied learning opportunities, and the power of ExploreLearning Gizmos to provide the best learning scenario for her 5th grade students.
April 12, 2013
ExploreLearning Gizmos: 2013 BESSIE Award Winner
We're honored to announce that both Gizmos and Reflex, our math fact fluency program, have won BESSIES -- 19th Annual Best Educational Software Awards from ComputED Gazette in the "Multi-level" category.
The BESSIE Awards target innovative and content-rich programs and websites that provide parents and teachers with the technology to foster educational excellence.
Read the full press release on our parent company's website.
Take a free Gizmos trial to try out our award-winning online math and science simulations!
April 09, 2013
New Lesson Materials for 3 more math Gizmos
These 3 Gizmos take our usual inquiry-based approach to teaching math. We strive to ask rather than tell, with students using the Gizmo as an exploratory "what if" tool to build their understanding of the topic at hand. In particular, "Estimating Population Size" is a favorite of mine. It uses the "capture-recapture" method of estimating the fish population of a pond, leading to some really good mathematical thinking. Check it out if you haven't already!
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.)This brings us to 57 high-school- and middle-school-level math Gizmos with updated Lesson Materials - with lots more on the way! 'Tis a busy year in the ExploreLearning math curriculum development factory.
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!
April 08, 2013
ExploreLearning Gizmos wins "Cool Tool Award" from EdTech Digest
The winners for the 2013 EdTech Digest Awards have just been announced, and ExploreLearning Gizmos won a "Cool Tool Award" for STEM Solution. Gizmos was also a finalist in the categories of Interactive Whiteboard Solution, and Product or Service. Cool Tool Awards recognize new, emerging and established technology solutions for education, and we're honored to be recognized by EdTech Digest.