Jennifer Abel hasn’t been teaching with Gizmos for very long, but has already found them incredibly useful in her high school math classroom in Mannheim Township School District in Pennsylvania. She had used Gizmos before and remembered “that they were easy to use and helpful in getting students to visualize mathematics.” When a lead teacher asked for recommendations for tools to help students learn, she told her about Gizmos.
In her classroom, Ms. Abel uses both standards-based grading and hybrid learning. “Standards based grading is great because it teaches students that failure is a temporary stage of learning and that with enough effort, they will be rewarded with mastery of concepts. Hybrid learning is a form of blended learning where students rotate through stations. I like this model because it encourages students to learn in multiple modalities. There is small group instruction, independent learning, and group learning.”
In her thirteen years of teaching math, she has taught everything from pre-algebra to pre-calculus. Ms. Abel teaches students of all ability levels, from ESL students to struggling students to Gifted students. “Our school faces the challenge of engaging all learners and meeting the needs students who learn in less traditional ways.”
She uses Gizmos in a variety of ways with her students. She often uses “the recommended opening and closing activities along with the actual exploration assignment” with her whole class. Then she has students “work through the exploration with a group of 2-3 peers” at a “collaborative station.” She finds “that using Gizmos 1-2 times per week is perfect for engaging students.” Currently her favorite Gizmos include those on discovering geometric concepts (such as Parallelogram Conditions) and transformations of graphs (such as Parabolas).”
Gizmos have been helpful as she works toward her state standards. “ExploreLearning has made it easy by organizing content by both our state standards and by the outline of our textbook. My students benefit from using Gizmos because they can see many examples or graphic and visual relationships using drag-able features. This is more accessable than constructing or graphing multiple problems by hand or even than using other software.”
She adds, that since using Gizmos, “my students have a better conceptual understanding of graphical and visual concepts.”
Jennifer Abel is a math teacher at a high school in Mannheim Township School District in Pennsylvania. She enjoys blogging at http://mathsational.blogspot.com/ and tweeting @abel_jennifer about her classroom as well as mathematics and education in general.