Laura Chervenak has been with ExploreLearning since 2010 as 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.
When you are using Gizmos in a whole-class setting, it is very easy to slip into “lecture mode” using the Gizmo as a visual aid. While it is true that their visual nature really helps students to understand concepts, Gizmos are even more effective if students have the opportunity to explore and experiment with the simulation directly.
So how can you make your whole group instruction student-centric so that they are getting the most from the experience? Here are three guidelines:
1. Allow the students to control the Gizmos. If you have an interactive whiteboard, select a student to manipulate the Gizmo controls. You can use many methods for selecting the students (i.e., popsicle sticks, the “popcorn” method of allowing the current student to select the next, or even an app that will select students randomly like iLEAP Pick a Student).
2. Have the students make decisions about the activity. Whenever possible, have the students decide what to do next. As you are following your Student Exploration Sheet, you will see many places where you can select variables or settings. Ask students to make those choices rather than just doing it yourself.
3. Don’t say something the students can say. Rather than the teacher doing the explaining and the students doing the listening, reverse the dynamic! If students are making and describing their observations, predictions and explanations, then they will be active participants in their learning. Sometimes this is difficult for teachers who are used to explaining concepts. For one lesson or one hour each day, practice speaking only in questions!
Do you have comments or questions about whole group instruction? Feel free to share your comments or question about whole class instruction below.
To see our previous articles on whole group instruction, go to http://blog.explorelearning.com/implementation-ideas/