Carla Hogar teaches math and science to grade 5 and grade 6 students in a level 9 NANS school in Québec. She studied Elementary Education at McGill University. She has been teaching for six years and has taught abroad.
With international teaching experience, Carla Hogar has seen a broad variety of learning and teaching resources. Two of her favorite are Reflex and Gizmos. With ExploreLearning’s best-of-breed products, “learning is interactive and students can explore concepts on their own, so learning isn’t so teacher-directed. Also, Gizmos and Reflex take pressure off the teacher because you don’t have to develop extra materials.”
In Carla’s math classes, she uses stations. Her stations include Reflex on laptops, a strategy station, and a manipulative station. Students travel between stations, spending fifteen minutes at each. Carla shares, “The students really enjoy the Reflex station, and they just get so excited to go on it. It’s not like I am throwing them in front of a website that throws facts at them. They can play games, they can purchase things, they are intrigued… and they are learning at the same time! Even with students that have demonstrated mastery, I just find that I have such smoother classes because they already have the facts in mind.” She is working on including Gizmos as part of her math stations soon, too.
In Carla’s science classes, she uses Gizmos that complement each of the themes she teaches. Once she selects an appropriate Gizmo, she models how to use it. She explains, “All the kids sit in front of the interactive whiteboard and experiment together for 5-10 minutes.” Then she lets the students work independently. “For younger grades, they explore the Gizmo in pairs, for grades 5-6 they do it on a laptop and complete it on their own.”
In addition, if the vocabulary is too difficult for some of her students, she says “it’s easy to change because all the Gizmo Lesson Materials are customizable,” which is great for her English Language Learners. Although she is in an Anglophone school board, she still has many bilingual students primarily from French speaking families. “ESL students have special requirements,” she explains, and “Gizmos are able to bridge the gap in vocabulary.”
One of her students’ favorite Gizmos is the Weight and Mass Gizmo because they can compare the weight of objects on earth and measure the mass of objects on different planets including a pumpkin, a flower pot, a baseball, and even a puppy. “They really like that part, and I like that it’s a cross-curricular concept.”
Carla is always sharing new Gizmos with fellow teachers because the simulations are “such great tools that go along with our curriculum guidelines. It is not like Gizmos are something extra, they complement what we’re supposed to be teaching.” Carla is always looking for new and exciting ways to integrate Gizmos, and shares, “as with any good teacher, I am always in the process of learning and improving my practice.”