January 04, 2012

Video -- Teaching with Gizmos: Whole Class Instruction

Recently we published a new video on our Gizmos YouTube channel: a 4-minute video demonstrating whole class instruction with Gizmos!

Take a peek into a 5th grade classroom where students are investigating the Mineral Identification Gizmo.

Watch the video above or see it on the YouTube site.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 12:16 PM in Training and Professional Development, Video | Permalink

January 12, 2011

Expert Corner: Piecewise Functions

Betty KorteBetty Korte is a Regional Professional Development Manager for ExploreLearning. Her credentials include 17 years teaching mathematics, with 14 years as the department chairperson, and a M.S. in Education with an emphasis in teaching mathematics.

Rainfall and Bird BeaksOne of the most exciting aspects of Gizmos is their versatility. I recently watched a colleague demonstrate the Rainfall and Bird Beaks Gizmo and participated in an excellent discussion on natural selection. I thought that a statistics teacher could use the very same Gizmo to study distribution and variance. I worked with the Fraction Artist Gizmo at the elementary math level recently as well, visualizing a high school teacher using the simulation to introduce infinite geometric series (with |r| < 1) in Algebra II.

The Distance-Time Graphs Gizmo has a seemingly endless array of pre-Algebra and Algebra applications, from graph sense to linear theory. Its strength lies in its simplicity. Students discuss (or model) the actions of the runner relative to the graph. Through these discussions, they construct meaningful definitions for such abstract concepts as rate of change, y-intercept, and parallel lines.

Distance-Time Graphs GizmoBecause the runner can change speeds and direction during the simulation, higher-level concepts can also be introduced. For instance, an Algebra II topic that challenges many students is piecewise functions. A piecewise function is simply a function whose definition changes depending on the input value. In theory, this is not difficult for students, but the notation can be overwhelming, especially if it is presented too early in the learning process. A better way to structure the learning is to allow the students to develop a concrete understanding of the function and then move to the abstract formulation.

Students first create a scenario where the runner changes speed or direction during the simulation. They describe what they see in words then translate these descriptions into algebraic sentences with increasing precision. Once this step is complete, they are ready to use the complex notation that defines the function. Because they construct the notation themselves, it no longer seems difficult. Students should also be able to come full circle and create a graph or scenario from the notation.

Watch the video "Using Distance Time Graphs to Study Piecewise Functions" for further details.

Apart from the stated lesson objectives and the curriculum correlations, there are many more "outside the box" uses for Gizmos.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:59 PM in Math (Real World), Using Gizmos, Video | Permalink