Expert Corner: Differentiating with Student Exploration Sheets

LauraC-2014Laura 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 conducting whole group lessons with students, you can use Gizmo Student Exploration Sheets to guide the lesson path and your questioning with students. But you may wonder, is it desirable to print out those sheets for my students, or should I do something else?

As always, you will want to look to your lesson objectives to make that decision. If you are using the whole group Gizmo lesson to engage your students and get them to begin thinking about a concept, it may not be necessary for them to have a document to write on. On the other hand, if you are using the Gizmo later in your lesson to build understanding, the support of a document to guide them might be very beneficial.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to use the entire Student Exploration Sheet “as-is.” You can pick just one activity and modify the Word document to meet your needs. You can also create entirely new documents by using the snapshot feature in each Gizmo to embed pictures, graphs, and data into your documents. A quick question around a picture can be a great formative assessment to be used before, during or after a lesson in your sequence.

Other ideas for student documents that can support whole-class instruction:

Before the lesson:

• Prior Knowledge questions from the Student Exploration Sheets can be handed out as bell-ringers as students enter class.

During the lesson:

• Create an outline of the lesson on which students can take notes. As you proceed through your planned whole group lesson, what do you want students to notice? What conclusions would you like them to come to? Create a student document to scaffold questions and observations for the students so that they can achieve the objectives of your lesson.

• Provide data recording templates for individual analysis. If your whole group lesson includes collecting data that will be reviewed to identify patterns, it will help students to have a document they can record the data on as you collect it as a group. Not only will the students be able to practice the skill of recording data accurately in a table or other appropriate format, they will have their own copy for the analysis exercises.

After the lesson:

• Create a follow-up activity that applies the concepts learned during the whole group lesson. In the ExploreLearning PD Team, we love creating writing prompts for Gizmos that support the Common Core standards.

• Exit tickets. One of the questions from the Student Exploration Sheet may lend itself perfectly to a question for your students to answer before they leave class.

• Differentiated homework (with or without a computer.) By using snapshots of Gizmos and data, you can create homework where students can practice the skills learned in the whole group lesson without the need for a computer. Or, for students that have computer access at home, give them a second option so that they can use the Gizmos at home.

If you’ve created interesting lessons around a Gizmo, please help out your colleagues by sharing your lesson materials on the Lesson Info tab of the Gizmo.

To see our previous articles on whole group instruction, go to