Educator Spotlight: Josh Cox

Josh Cox, the science specialist at a Title I elementary school in Wyoming, started using Gizmos two years ago. “We use the Next Generation Science Standards to drive our curriculum in our district. Gizmos are directly related to those standards. Gizmos helps me give every student a chance to truly dive a little deeper into each one of the Next Generation Science Standards and understand them better.”

Since Mr. Cox is the only science teacher at his elementary school, he needs “to make sure students are coming away with at least the big idea of what the unit is no matter where they are educationally. I work with every single student at Clark whether they are in Special Education, ELL, gifted, or anything else in between. The challenges are trying to find a curriculum to where every single student has a chance to have some sort of success no matter their level.”

“At first I was using Gizmos once or twice a month to give the kids a little bit of a break from our core curriculum. The more I did Gizmos, though, the more I understood how much their data analysis was improving and that got me very interested in using them inside of every unit. The more I used Gizmos the more I understood what a powerful tool this was to enhance what I was talking about in our unit.”

Mr. Cox finds the Force and Fan Carts Gizmo useful for almost every grade he teaches, so he uses it often. “The 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades all talk about motion in some kind of capacity, and this Gizmo lends itself to each grade level very well. Even if the students in my class have already done the Gizmo the year before, their understanding gets better every year and their knowledge deepens.”

He mostly teaches Gizmos with individual instruction. “We will go through the vocabulary and the prior knowledge questions together, and then each individual student will work to complete the number of activities based on what I feel their knowledge of the subject should be. For some that may only be the warm-up, and for others it could be as much is getting all the way through with Activity C in the Lesson Materials. For my second grade students that are about to become third-graders, we will introduce it in the whole group setting and they will follow along so by the time they get into third grade, they are masters at doing it and have seen it before.”

Josh Cox Educator using science simulations for NGSS

Using Gizmos, “my students are getting very good at running the simulations, collecting all of the data they need, and then tying it directly to make some sort of claim about what we’re doing in our unit. Each Gizmo does a very good job of having the students observe, collect, and then draw conclusions, which really helps out when you do other investigations in other areas.”

Mr. Cox finds their work with Gizmos to be helpful for his students’ state science assessments. “I found Gizmos to be incredibly important on our state assessments. To answer the questions that they ask on our fourth grade state science assessment, you can get by with very little science understanding. But if you cannot collect data, look at a chart with data, or make a conclusion based on that data you will not do very well. The practice that my students get with Gizmos and the fact that they love to do Gizmos makes the state assessment they have to take a little more bearable because they’ve done it so much.”

He adds, “Last year I had 80% of my students at Clark be proficient or advanced on the Wyoming fourth grade science test. That ranked us in the top 10 in the state of Wyoming. Other teachers in the district use Gizmos but not as much as I do, and their scores were not quite as high.” Since the teachers in his district all use the same curriculum, and the only differential is high Gizmos usage, he believes that Gizmos “is what pushes us over the top.”

JOsh Cox Title I Educator Wyoming, NGSSJosh Cox has taught at Clark Elementary in Uinta School District, Wyoming, for 5 years and is an elementary science specialist for K-5. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s degree in Biological Science Education from Western Governors University.