April 16, 2014

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 http://blog.explorelearning.com/implementation-ideas/

Posted by Heather Jones at 11:14 AM in Implementation Ideas, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

Prepare for End-of-Year Testing with Gizmos

GizmostestLooking for ways to help students prepare for upcoming state tests and end-of-course exams? Try creating a personalized review with Gizmos. Research suggests that a computer-based individualized study schedule can help students retain significantly more material to prepare for a test given at the end of a semester and a month later.



When preparing students for end-of-year testing, remember the Three R’s:

·        Review concepts from early in the school that students may have forgotten

·        Reinforce most tested items on state and end-of-course exams

·        Re-teach concepts that students struggled with most during the school year

Whether they are at home, at school, or traveling during spring break, students can access Gizmos on their computers and iPads anywhere they have Internet. By the time the test comes around, students can be confident and ready to ace those exams.

Explore the Gizmos library today!

Posted by Heather Jones at 11:00 AM in Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

March 12, 2014

Expert Corner: Fostering Inquiry through Effective Questioning

Laura Chervenak PicLaura 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.


Inquiry learning centers around exploration, asking questions, and building understanding of the concept at hand. Teachers' good questioning strategies support the work students are doing in the classroom by arousing curiosity and motivating students to seek out new knowledge.

Effective questioning in an inquiry classroom follows several key principles:

1. Plan questions ahead of time that will support inquiry.

  • To make the most of questioning in a whole class lesson, plan key questions prior to class so that you can word them with precision. Clear questions mean that students don’t have to spend as much time processing the question, but can instead focus on formulating an answer.
  • Think about your lesson objectives as you plan questions. They should be ordered logically to move students towards those objectives, supporting their learning along the way.
  • Ask open-ended questions that invite multiple interpretations. Ask “What are your observations?” instead of “What color is the bug?”
  • As you plan your questions, keep a Bloom’s revised taxonomy reference handy. Be ready with questions from the higher levels of Bloom’s. Asking questions from the lower levels on the fly is relatively easy, but it can be much harder to spontaneously come up with a good Analyze or Evaluate question.

2. Ask questions in ways that include everyone.

  • In the February Expert Corner article, we discussed how to engage all students in a whole class lesson. In addition to the methods mentioned there, a strategy I’ve seen recently is to count the number of students with hands raised before calling on one, “One person has an answer. Two, three.” When students see that you want to know how many people have an answer before selecting one, more will join in.

3. Give students time to think.

  • Provide students with ample wait time so that they can process the question and formulate an answer. Mentally, count off 3-5 seconds at a minimum before taking an answer.

4. Avoid judging students’ responses.

  • Research (Rowe, 1974) shows that when teachers respond to students’ responses with negative or even positive comments such as, “Good job!” or “Not quite,” students will respond less often. Rather than offering judgment in your responses to students, reply with neutral comments such as, “Thank you.”

5. Follow up students’ responses in ways that encourage deeper thinking.

  • One of my favorite follow-up questions is to ask, “What evidence supports your answer?” This prompts students to provide not only the ‘why’ behind their answer but also specific support.
  • In addition to asking the responding student follow-up questions, it is beneficial to ask the rest of the class to weigh in with a hand signal. Use a thumbs up to indicate agreement, thumbs down for disagreement and a thumbs to the side if the answer is okay, but there is something missing that would allow for full agreement. With this strategy, all of the students are thinking deeper about the answer given, and not just the responding student.

As you work on building your own questioning skills to support inquiry, set incremental goals for yourself and monitor your progress against those goals. Don’t try to master everything at once! For example, begin with improving your wait time after asking a question. Once you have mastered wait time, you can work on eliminating judgmental comments to student responses, and then asking more questions from the higher levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

To monitor your progress, you can videotape your inquiry lessons and analyze your question types, wait time, or other metrics for effective techniques. If a video camera isn’t available, ask a colleague to observe a lesson and collect data on your current questioning goal.

Because teacher questioning is key during whole group instruction, ExploreLearning provides great questions at various levels of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy in our Student Exploration Sheets included with almost every Gizmo. Teachers can also refer to the Teacher Guide discussion questions and even the assessment questions for more inspiration. To see a demonstration of the power of good questions with a Gizmo, watch our video, Teaching with Gizmos: Function Machines.

Posted by Heather Jones at 03:19 PM in Implementation Ideas, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

February 14, 2014

Expert Corner: Whole Group Instruction- Part V

LauraLaura 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.

Students can easily become disengaged during a lesson in a whole class setting. Students who are not called on to answer a question can passively wait for the answer to be given to them, rather than thinking it through for themselves. Teachers usually seek ways for all students to participate so that they are actively thinking and learning during a whole class lesson.

One of the simplest ways to help get all students actively thinking about a whole group activity is to provide think time for questions and ask them to write their answers down before calling on one student to answer aloud. Many questions and challenges in the Gizmo lesson materials have multiple correct answers. This format is a great opportunity to ask pairs to devise a solution and then have them come up one at a time to share their solutions on the Gizmo.

If the Gizmo calls for students to design an experiment, have pairs or small groups work together to create plans at their desks. Each group then presents and defends their plan to the class for the privilege of performing that experiment on the Gizmo.

You can also have students use physical manipulatives similar to the Gizmo at their desks. This will allow them to follow along and explore even when they aren’t using the Gizmo directly. In the User Lesson Materials for Toy Factory, the contributed lesson from Elsie Rivard includes a page of toys from the Gizmo created by using the snapshot tool. Students can cut out and use the toys to participate in a whole class lesson. Recently, I purchased pencil toppers in the shapes of animals to use similarly.

There are even more ways to ensure that all students are participating rather than zoning out during a whole group instruction lesson.

• When one student answers a question, ask the rest of the room to give a thumbs up if they agree, thumbs down if they disagree or a thumbs sideways if they don’t know.

• Use individual whiteboards to have all students respond to questions.

• Use mobile devices so that students can answer the Gizmo assessment questions individually, or use iPads so that students can manipulate the Gizmos with our new iPad app!

Want more ideas? Check out the outstanding book, Total Participation Techniques: Making Every Student an Active Learner by Pérsida Himmele and William Himmele.

Posted by Heather Jones at 02:23 PM in Implementation Ideas, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

January 17, 2014

Expert Corner: Whole Group Instruction- Part IV

Laura Chervenak PicLaura 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 you are using Gizmos in a whole-class setting, it is very easy to slip into “lecture mode” using the Gizmo as a visual aid. While it is true that their visual nature really helps students to understand concepts, Gizmos are even more effective if students have the opportunity to explore and experiment with the simulation directly.

So how can you make your whole group instruction student-centric so that they are getting the most from the experience? Here are three guidelines:

1. Allow the students to control the Gizmos. If you have an interactive whiteboard, select a student to manipulate the Gizmo controls. You can use many methods for selecting the students (i.e., popsicle sticks, the “popcorn” method of allowing the current student to select the next, or even an app that will select students randomly like iLEAP Pick a Student).

2. Have the students make decisions about the activity. Whenever possible, have the students decide what to do next. As you are following your Student Exploration Sheet, you will see many places where you can select variables or settings. Ask students to make those choices rather than just doing it yourself.

3. Don’t say something the students can say. Rather than the teacher doing the explaining and the students doing the listening, reverse the dynamic! If students are making and describing their observations, predictions and explanations, then they will be active participants in their learning. Sometimes this is difficult for teachers who are used to explaining concepts. For one lesson or one hour each day, practice speaking only in questions!

Do you have comments or questions about whole group instruction? Feel free to share your comments or question about whole class instruction below. 

To see our previous articles on whole group instruction, go to http://blog.explorelearning.com/implementation-ideas/

Posted by Heather Jones at 12:04 PM in Implementation Ideas, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (0)

New Video: Intro to the Gizmos iPad App

Get Gizmos on your iPad!

Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to get started using our award-winning math and science simulations on the iPad.
See tips on how to login, search Gizmos, access Lesson Materials, and switch between apps to get the best experience as you explore Gizmos with the new app.

Posted by Heather Jones at 11:49 AM in Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

December 11, 2013

Expert Corner: Whole Group Instruction- Part III

LauraLaura 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.


In the past two EL newsletters, we presented ideas for how to plan whole group instruction. Here’s a video of a teacher using some of these techniques:


With the Mineral Identification Gizmo, students are engaged in learning as they test various mineral properties and analyze data using a key. The teacher models best practice by asking students to verbalize their thinking, justify answers, and explain their thought processes to other students in the class. These types of questioning techniques lead to a deeper understanding of the science content and practices.

In January, we’ll be back to talk about how to make your lessons student-centric.

Have a great winter break!

Posted by Heather Jones at 02:28 PM in Implementation Ideas, Quick Tips, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 05, 2013

Celebrate the Season of Giving

In this season of giving, ExploreLearning is happy to share just a few of the ways we give back to our community of teachers and children.

ExploreLearning is a proud Angel Tree Sponsor in partnership with the Salvation Army.  So far, the ExploreLearning team has adopted over 30 children in need this holiday season. In addition, the ExploreLearning Professional Development team, as part of their “Virtual Holiday Party”, has decide to celebrate by giving back to those in need through online charity organizations including:

Just give Charity navigator Donors choose






Feel free to join in our celebration of giving! Explore any of these to learn more about how you or your school can make the holidays a little brighter for children in need.




Posted by Heather Jones at 03:32 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

December 02, 2013

Gizmos Support Science Understanding in English Language Learners

664DETScience class can be frustrating for English Language Learners (ELL). When teachers build on concepts in the science curriculum, they use complex vocabulary and often rely on students' background knowledge. Providing rich visual support and modeling during instruction has been shown to be a highly effective strategy in supporting students' understanding of science concepts. The use of Gizmos can help students connect concepts and vocabulary to real-world experiences, providing a bridge to learning between languages.

A Texas Science Coordinator agrees. She explains:

"Using Gizmos for ELLs is one of the best ways to show a nonlinguistic representation of any science content/topics.  Students enjoy the manipulation of variables and have the ability to communicate using pictures to the teachers with the simulations.  Students see science content in a vivid and relevant way to help them increase their scientific literacy."

Gizmos' easily customizable lesson materials and vocabulary sheets provide students the opportunity to build on prior knowledge and communicate scientific content using multiple modes of representation (e.g. discussions, pictures, models, writing, graphs).

After attending a recent Initial Training Workshop, this is what one Memphis high school teacher had to say:

"The student body at the school I teach at consists majorly of ESL [English as a Second Language] students, and I definitely believe that Gizmos will assist my ESL students to better understand the concepts taught in science class, in which language can be a barrier for student comprehension."

Explore Gizmos today to see how they can help you transform learning for your ELL students.


Posted by Heather Jones at 04:42 PM in Science, Testimonials, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

November 26, 2013

Teachers are "thrilled to start using Gizmos" in their classes

An elementary teacher at Golden Vally School in Québec recently attended our Initial Gizmos Training. Here's what she had to say,

"The training was well balanced, and gave many opportunities to search through and test out many Gizmos.  It was very informative and left no questions unanswered. I am thrilled to start using Gizmos in my classroom."

With Gizmos' flexible professional development and support, you can start integrating Gizmos into your lessons today! Learn more

Posted by Heather Jones at 08:19 AM in Testimonials, Training and Professional Development | Permalink

November 13, 2013

Expert Corner: Whole Group Instruction- Part II

Laura Chervenak PicLaura 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.


We all know that deliberate and careful lesson preparation can separate an okay lesson from one that is vibrant and effective. But teachers don’t have hours to review materials and make decisions about instructional strategies. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day!

VideoTo help busy teachers get the most out of their lessons, ExploreLearning Gizmos provide a suite of materials to help streamline the preparation process. To provide an example of how I would plan a lesson, I selected the Gizmo, Measuring Motion, and created a video as I prepared my lessons. In this 10-minute video, you can watch as I “think out loud” during the planning.

My entire preparation took about 20 minutes and I finished with a 3-day series of lessons, combining the Gizmo, textbook exercises, and assessment activities. My thought process is outlined below, but you should watch the video and review the finished whole-class instruction script for more details.

When using whole-class instruction with Gizmos, you want to make sure that you use standard classroom best practices for whole-class instruction. Be sure to “chunk” your material in short segments. This will give your students lots of opportunities to be active participants. They can do so either by volunteering, or by using participation techniques like Think-Pair-Share, QuickWrites, and individual response systems (electronic or whiteboard). Design your questions ahead of time within a whole-class instruction script. You will want to include questions across all six levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, scaffolding as you progress through the lesson. Be sure to identify formative instruction strategies that you will use to see how students are doing as they work to master the standard(s).

The important steps to follow as you plan your Gizmo lesson:

1. Identify the standards you are teaching and select an appropriate Gizmo.

2. Preview the Gizmo while referencing the Student Exploration Sheet Answer Key.

3. Decide how you will use the Gizmo to address the standard(s). Does the Gizmo make a good introduction to engage the student and allow them to construct meaning for themselves? Or would you rather use the Gizmo to explain the concept and provide students with practice?

4. Utilize the Student Exploration Sheet, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary Sheet to plan the whole-class instruction script. Remember, each of these is easily customizable to meet the individual needs of all your students.

Please share your comments or questions about lesson planning for whole-class instruction. 

Posted by Heather Jones at 07:55 AM in Implementation Ideas, Quick Tips, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 17, 2013

Expert Corner: Whole Group Instruction- Part I

Laura Chervenak PicLaura 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.

Research has shown that effective use of simulations in whole class instruction significantly improves student understanding in science (Smetana, 2008). In a series of articles this school year, I will be highlighting whole group instruction with Gizmos, including best-practice strategies for maximizing student engagement and achievement.

We will begin with an exploration of lesson planning with Gizmos, including how to pull the best whole class instructional sequence from the Gizmo lesson materials to meet your needs. We will return in January, after the winter break, to focus on making your Gizmo lessons more student-centric, even when you have a single computer in your classroom. In February, we will discuss strategies for engaging all students in the classroom in your whole class lessons. In March, we will look at questioning techniques that foster inquiry, and we will look at the role of seatwork and homework in April. Finally, in May, we will wrap up the series with a discussion of what comes next — instruction beyond the whole group.

I’m looking forward to exploring all of the ways that a teacher can use Gizmos in a classroom with just one or two computers and a projector. I’d love to hear your ideas and strategies as well! If you have strategies related to whole group instruction with Gizmos to share, please comment below.

Posted by Heather Jones at 04:32 PM in Implementation Ideas, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 30, 2013

New Gizmos PD: Expanding the Gizmos Experience

CaptureExploreLearning excited to announce a new PD workshop for Gizmos. Expanding the Gizmo Experience helps teachers develop a deeper understanding of how to integrate Gizmos into their curriculum. The course is designed for math and science teachers in grades 3-12 that have completed the Initial Training and would like additional training to on how to use Gizmos to support instructional best practices.

To learn more about this workshop, read the full description or schedule a training today.

Posted by Heather Jones at 10:17 AM in Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

August 29, 2013

Teacher praise for Gizmos training model

“I was so pleased how the trainings went yesterday.  Both of your trainers were tremendous.  Teachers came away with great ideas on what Gizmos can do for instruction using whole class as well as small group.  The teachers truly appreciated [the presenter’s] knowledge, expertise and delivery.  She was truly engaging and informative. I look forward to having additional trainings.

-- STEM Teacher, Volusia County Schools, FL

“Yesterday's Gizmos workshop was truly outstanding. Rarely do I return to school the next day and try to implement immediately, but today I did. As often as I saw Gizmos over the years, it wasn't until yesterday that I left with enough confidence to try and set it up in my classes.  Gizmos allow us to introduce something new and interactive to our students. Thank you for providing such a great in-service.”

-- Mathematics Teacher, Palm Beach Schools, FL

Posted by Heather Jones at 11:28 AM in Testimonials, Training and Professional Development | Permalink

August 01, 2013

Professor Uses Gizmos to Teach Best Practices

Wendy Schroeder, a College of Education professor at California State University at Northridge uses Gizmos to demonstrate how to build conceptual understanding in math and science. She feels it’s an excellent way to model technology integration for tomorrow’s teachers.

“I feel exposure to Gizmos has had a definite impact on my pre-service teachers, and many of them have gone on to use Gizmos in their own classrooms.”

In addition, Wendy sees the value of Gizmos to prepare students for Common Core testing. After participating in a SBAC pilot test, Wendy shared,

“I think that the technology aspect of Gizmos is even more relevant to math K-12 instruction than ever. As pre-service teachers become more aware of the various components of the new Common Core standards they often draw comparison to what they saw in Gizmos”

Explore how Gizmos can prepare your students for technology-enabled assessments, take a free trial today!

Posted by Heather Jones at 01:14 PM in Testimonials, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

July 26, 2013

SETDA Case Studies: Gizmos Improve Teaching and Learning

SETDA, a non-profit group representing state and national education technology leaders, recently published a series of case studies to demonstrate how ARRA EETT grant funds have impacted teaching and learning. The following case studies highlight powerful examples of successful programs that improved teaching and learning.

A SETDA case study of over 3000 Arkansas classrooms found that with effective professional development, Gizmos had a positive impact on student understanding and engagement, according to teacher reports. Read more

A SETDA case study of Rapides Parish School District in Louisiana found that a technology enriched learning environment that included Gizmos had a positive impact on teacher proficiency and student graduation rates. Read more

A SETDA case study of Thomasville City Schools in Georgia found that with a technology enriched learning environment that included Gizmos, students were more engaged in learning and more quickly visualized complex mathematics concepts. Read more

Posted by Heather Jones at 12:02 PM in Case Studies, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

July 02, 2013

Gizmos Training a Hit with Memphis City Teachers

The ExploreLearning professional development team recently provided a full day of Gizmos professional development for Memphis City Schools. Sessions ranged from introductory trainings to advanced learning opportunities supporting the 5E Instructional Model, troublesome topics in science, and implementing the Next Generation Science Standards.

Here's what one of the science teachers that attended the Initial Training had to say:

"I thought the Gizmos training was beyond superb. This was my first time being exposed to Gizmos, and I totally fell in love with them! I see Gizmos as a great tool that will become a bridge-builder for my students to fully comprehend the scientific concepts that are being taught--regardless of the academic-level of the students."

To learn more about these trainings, please visit our professional development and training site.

Posted by Heather Jones at 08:47 AM in Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

June 27, 2013

ExploreLearning Collaborates with Science Leaders on NGSS

IMG_3341ExploreLearning was in Williamsburg, VA this week as a sponsor of the National Science Education Leadership Association’s (NSELA) Summer Leadership Institute. ExploreLearning team members collaborated with science leaders from across the nation, exploring the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). ExploreLearning held focus groups to gain an understanding of science professionals' thoughts and direction for implementation of the NGSS. We were excited to hear what educators had to say in the focus groups and other conference events. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Gizmo NGSS alignment and some great NGSS focused professional development classes to help teachers integrate core ideas, practices, and cross-cutting concepts into their standard-aligned lessons.

See how Gizmos are ideal for supporting the NGSS. Take a free trial today!

To learn more about NSELA, visit NSELA.org.



Posted by Heather Jones at 03:40 PM in NGSS, Science, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

May 09, 2013

Expert Corner: PD Options for Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards

Pam Larson PicAfter receiving her M.Ed. in Science Education and teaching science in middle and high school classrooms for nine years, Pam Larson began working for ExploreLearning in 2007. As a Regional Manager of Professional Development, Ms. Larson has been instrumental in designing curriculum for science and math professional development sessions, and she manages trainers working directly with teachers using ExploreLearning products.

Many schools are using their summer professional development time to address the Common Core Standards for Math (CCSS-M) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Gizmos are a great tool that teachers can use to develop the knowledge and the habits of mind of strong math and science students. The PD department at ExploreLearning is offering higher-level training workshops aimed at preparing teachers for the CCSS-M and the NGSS.

Using Gizmos with the CCSS will help participants develop a deeper understanding of both the content standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. The Common Core – the Balance between Skills and Understanding workshop allows participants to work collaboratively and identify mathematical tasks that develop students’ capacity to meet the Standards of Mathematical Practice.

Greenhouse Effect GizmoDistricts can also choose from a variety of Troublesome Topics in Math workshops. Each of these is designed for a different grade band around math concepts that are difficult for students to grasp and have moved down in grade level in the new standards. The elementary workshop focuses on fractions, while the middle grades workshop explores ratios and proportions, and the high school workshop examines functions. Teachers leave with a better mastery of the content they are teaching and with specific strategies for leading students to conceptual understanding of their focus topic.

Like the Common Core workshops, using Gizmos with the NGSS is designed to help teachers make the pedagogical leaps dictated in the new science standards. The NGSS encourages teachers to teach fewer content topics, but to take students to a much deeper level of understanding than in the past. The three Troublesome Topics in Science workshops focus on refining teachers’ understanding of science content in three disciplines across all grade levels; Life Science, Earth/Space Science, and Physical Science. If teachers themselves have a strong knowledge of science topics, they will be better prepared to help students develop a deeper conceptual understanding.

As the summer and fall go on, the PD department will be developing additional higher-level offerings to support these new standards.

To learn more about bringing any of these workshops to your school or district, please contact your Account Executive.

Posted by Meredith Cole at 10:55 AM in NGSS, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

June 26, 2012

Two math Gizmos highlighted in NCTM article

A recent article in the NCTM magazine Teaching Children Mathematics describes an activity, designed by two professors, that aims to help teachers select clear, effective technology for their classrooms. The article lists five criteria for selecting technology (National Research Council, 2001):

  1. Transparency: How easily can the idea be seen through the representation?
  2. Efficiency: Does the representation support efficient communication and use?
  3. Generality: Does the representation apply to broad classes of objects?
  4. Clarity: Is the representation unambiguous and easy to use?
  5. Precision: How close is the representation to the exact value?

Based on these, the teachers selected a variety of applets to use in their classes. Among these, they chose two Gizmos that provide nice visuals to help teach number sense with the number line.

The Rounding Numbers (Number Line) Gizmo is noted for its use of "hills" on the number line to help illustrate rounding. In this Gizmo, points can be dragged onto a dynamic number line. When in "hill" mode, the points will slide to the nearest valley (the nearest 10 or 100), helping students to visualize rounding. (By the way, interesting things happen when points are exactly halfway between two valleys – like, for example, 35 when rounding to the nearest 10, or 350 when rounding to the nearest 100. Why don’t these points slide to a valley right away? Thought-provoking discussions about the "round up" convention can ensue!)

Also, the teachers chose Number Line Frog Hop (Addition and Subtraction) Gizmo, in which Fred the Frog hops along a number line to try to catch flies. If Fred hops more than 10 units, he can jump as a "single jump," "tens then ones," or "ones then tens." The latter two modes highlight the "parts" of a number (place value, essentially). In addition, as a teacher points out in the article, you can show repeated addition in this Gizmo as a bridge to multiplication.

Posted by Dan at 12:20 PM in Edu/Tech, Press Clippings, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

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

October 04, 2011

Great Gizmos training experiences

We get a lot of great feedback about our top-notch Professional Development staff. As an example, recently we got a note from an inclusion teacher in Massachusetts' Falmouth Public Schools who said this after attending a training with PD Regional Manager Betty Korte:

"Betty was just terrific and adeptly read the 'pulse' of our staff as tech-savvy and tailored an afternoon which was just perfect for my staff. She was totally knowledgeable about all aspects of the program, kept the training moving at a good pace for the audience, she was wonderfully pleasant and kept to the agenda in a timely manner."

Betty is just one of many superb trainers ready to help you improve teaching and learning in your classrooms. Our PD team brings a wide variety of training offerings to schools, from Initial Gizmo Training which helps teachers start off right with Gizmos, to targeted offerings helping teachers utilize best practices in math and science to customized support programs to sustain broad use of Gizmos over time.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:10 AM in Testimonials, Training and Professional Development | Permalink

March 09, 2011

Expert's Corner: The Next Level of Professional Development

LauraLaura Chervenak has been ExploreLearning Director of Professional Development for the past year. 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.

In the Professional Development department at ExploreLearning, our initial focus is to help teachers get the most out of Gizmos. We then want to extend those lessons and help teachers improve their overall teaching and learning in math and science.

TrainingEffective professional development is a continuing process that includes workshops for learning information, regular coaching for the acquisition of skills, and on-demand information for just-in-time training.  At ExploreLearning, we offer Initial Gizmo Training to get teachers started, a variety of classroom coaching services to build teachers' confidence in using Gizmos in their classroom, and a broad array of Help Center videos to address teachers' specific questions about Gizmos and the ExploreLearning.com website.

Now we are extending our offerings beyond those great resources. We are very excited to announce the launch of three new higher-level workshops, which focus on helping teachers develop and enhance teaching methodologies in math and science. 

In “Teaching for Understanding in Math,” teachers learn to use a program of discourse and writing to help students reason mathematically and develop a deeper understanding of concepts. 

Teaching with the 5E Model in Science” shows teachers how to combine hands-on activities with Gizmos within the 5E instructional model to enhance student understanding. 

Inquiry instruction is the focus of “Teaching Scientific Inquiry with Gizmos,” where teachers help students manipulate independent variables and collect and analyze data around authentic scientific questions.

  EL PD Team  
Some of the expert trainers on the ExploreLearning Professional Development Team.

We also know that professional development focused on technology integration is most successful when communities of practice are established, administrative support is provided and relevance to the curriculum is demonstrated.  We can address these needs by establishing a Gizmo Mentor program within a school or district, working with science and math supervisors and coaches to provide targeted support, and aligning local curriculum pacing guides with appropriate Gizmos.

Gizmos are a tremendously versatile and powerful technology tool to add to a teacher's toolkit of instructional options.  We want to work with you to develop a customized program of professional development designed to harness the power of Gizmos in your classrooms. An effective program ranges from Initial Gizmo Training all the way through higher-level workshops on teaching methodologies proven to improve student learning.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:07 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

January 10, 2011

A Great Year for Gizmos

Training We stepped back to look at what we had accomplished in 2010, and we found it was a banner year for Gizmos!

Last year our dedicated Professional Development staff trained almost 14,000 teachers. They either took part in one of our recommended initial training sessions or helped build their ability to integrate Gizmos into their curriculum. These customized programs of support now include onsite consultations, curriculum alignment assistance, and project management services. Visit our Training page for more information. 

Gizmos are now helping to improve instruction in classrooms all over the world. We are in all 50 U.S. states and more than thirty other countries. We hope 2011 will be even better!

Posted by Ed Pastore at 10:24 AM in Our History, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

June 03, 2010

Gizmo demo movies are live!

Who says that all the blockbuster summertime movie action is only taking place on the big screen?

We're happy to announce that all 80 Gizmos with the "purple bar on the left side" appearance have a demo movie!

These Gizmo demo movies are quick (~3 minute) how-to movies that show you what each Gizmo can do, and how you can interact with it.  The movies don't teach the lesson (see the Lesson Materials or Exploration Guide for that), but they should help get you comfortable with that Gizmo.

Demo movies come with voice-over narration, so be sure you have your sound turned on.  (We recommend using headphones if in a lab setting.)

Movies are appropriate for teachers or students.

To access the demo movie, click on the "Demo" button in the purple bar, at the lower left corner of the Gizmo.


Posted by Dan at 03:57 PM in Help (User Support), Quick Tips, Site Announcements, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

July 10, 2009

The Online Course...Lots of Energy, Passion and Commitment!

Stephen Hurley is a teacher and an educational technology enthusiast, working at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Ontario. He has just participated in the ExploreLearning Gizmos online course, and we are delighted that Stephen contacted us with his thoughts....

"...The key benefit for me was the fact that the course forced me to look at things that I might not have looked at previously. I'm not a big consumer of product manuals - I usually try to figure things out on my own, but this course had a prescribed set of tasks and discussions in which we were required to participate. This ensured that I got to see the key components of the ExploreLearning site.

In addition, the fact that participants came from a variety of different teaching backgrounds was very helpful. I was introduced to Gizmos that I didn't know existed, and am already planning ways to integrate these into my own work.

I think that there was a sense in the course that everyone was learning. The instructors presented themselves as "open learners," eager to learn from the participants. This opened up a different type of dynamic in the course. Lots of energy, passion and commitment!"

Thanks for your comments, Stephen. We are always excited to hear feedback from our online course, and we are pleased that it helped you understand more about the power of ExploreLearning Gizmos.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:54 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

June 04, 2009

Online Gizmo Training - a great success in Dekalb County, GA...

Victoria Barbour, a teacher in Dekalb County, GA, wrote to us expressing her thanks for a great online training session with Gizmos:

"Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!....with the new found tactics and techniques you demonstrated and modeled so perfectly, I am excited about incorporating it all into my lessons!...You Rock!"

We are delighted that Victoria has had a great experience with the online Gizmo training in Dekalb, and this has been replicated throughout Dekalb, with great results, as Dr. Trinna McKay, who is an ExploreLearning Certified Trainer explains....

"Teachers in Dekalb have had access to Gizmos for two years, and there has been a focused effort to make sure that everyone is trained with Gizmos. All department chairs are encouraged to make sure all teachers are using Gizmos.

After teachers began using Gizmos, there were increases in Biology & Physical Science EOCT (end of course test) results, and in general, Dekalb science scores have been above or near the state average in each high school. The success of Gizmos as a product and its alignment to the state performance standards made it an easy product to use for all teachers."

Posted by ExploreLearning at 03:54 PM in Testimonials, Training and Professional Development | Permalink

April 16, 2009

Gizmo demo movies - elementary science - done!

It's been a long time coming, but at long last, every elementary science Gizmo has a demo movie!  (That's 40 of them, if you're keeping score at home.)

The "movies" are short (about 2 minutes each) and have a simple "how-to" approach. They show how to use the basic features in the Gizmo. If students are brand-new to a Gizmo, the demo movie would be a nice brief introduction to it.

The movies feature a voice-over, so be sure audio is turned on before watching.  (In a lab setting, you probably either want to project it for the whole class to watch and listen to, or have students use headphones.)

To see a demo movie, click on the "demo" icon at the bottom left corner of the Gizmo, in the purple bar, as shown below.


(Note: Demo movies will only appear in elementary-level Gizmos - the ones with the purple bar on the left side.)

Tip: To find the 40 elementary science Gizmos, either click "Browse Gizmos" and browse through the grade 3-5 science offerings, or just type "elementary science" (without the quotes) in the search field.

Enjoy!  We hope these are useful for both teachers and students.

By the way, the elementary math Gizmo demo movies will now slowly start appearing also!  We hope to have all 40 of them complete by the end of 2009.

Posted by Dan at 02:40 PM in Help (User Support), Quick Tips, Site Announcements, Training and Professional Development | Permalink

September 25, 2008

New from ExploreLearning: Online Gizmo Training!

Are you interested in increasing your knowledge and skill using ExploreLearning Gizmos? Do you want to learn to use Gizmos in your own environment, with an affordable individual cost? Sign up for one of our new three-week online initial training courses. Anyone with an active subscription to ExploreLearning.com can purchase a seat in this new course, which will feature both guided and independent learning opportunities. The first session begins on October 6th and the second begins on November 3rd. Contact [email protected] for more information or to sign up.

Posted by Julia Given at 11:23 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

September 09, 2008

Attend an "Introduction to ExploreLearning Gizmos" Webinar This Fall

If you are new to ExploreLearning, or are taking a free trial, learn more about the power of Gizmos by attending a one-hour webinar.

This fall we have a number of sessions, running until the end of the year.  You can sign up for the forthcoming webinars by clicking on one of the links below:

Monday, September 15, 2008, 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern time:         

Monday, September 29, 2008, 7.00-8.00pm Eastern time:

For more information on our webinars, please contact [email protected]

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:09 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

August 22, 2008

Attend an "Introduction to ExploreLearning Gizmos" Webinar

If you are new to ExploreLearning, or are taking a free trial, learn more about the power of Gizmos by attending a one-hour webinar. We have offered informative, introductory webinars throughout the summer for current and future customers, and our last summer session is this coming Monday! If you cannot make this webinar, be on the lookout for our fall sessions, which will be starting soon. To register for this Monday's session, click on the link below:

Monday, August 25, 2008, 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern time:         

For more information on our webinars, please contact [email protected]

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:28 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

July 08, 2008

Attend an "Introduction to ExploreLearning Gizmos" webinar this summer

If you are new to ExploreLearning, or are taking a free trial, learn more about the power of Gizmos by attending a one-hour webinar. We are offering informative, introductory webinars throughout the summer for current and future customers. To register for one of these free sessions, click on the link below for a session that is convenient:

Monday, July 14, 2008, 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern time:      

Monday, July 28, 2008, 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern time:         

Monday, August 11, 2008, 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern time:         

Monday, August 25, 2008, 3:00-4:00 pm Eastern time:         

For more information on our webinars, please contact [email protected]

Posted by Julia Given at 09:57 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

February 12, 2008

Position Available: Training Consultant (Canada)

Please share this good news with colleagues.  With the support of the Ministry of Education in Alberta and Ontario, ExploreLearning's award-winning interactive online simulations are coming to classrooms in Ontario and Alberta.   Therefore, ExploreLearning has an exciting opportunity for an experienced science educator who is interested in making a difference in the teaching and learning of mathematics and science as an ExploreLearning Training Consultant.  This is a half-time field position (remote/home office) as a contractor or as a member of ExploreLearning’s Professional Development team.   


  • The Training Consultant’s primary duties (90% of time) include the development and presentation of high quality ExploreLearning Gizmo product training, professional development, and project management across ExploreLearning’s network in Canada. 
  • The consultant is also responsible for supporting sales efforts (10% of time). 


  • Experience delivering professional development for teachers, particularly in high school science
  • 3+ years of classroom experience as a teacher of high school science
  • Willingness to operate as a remote employee (home office)
  • Willingness to travel (up to 75%)
  • Resident of Ontario
  • Professional references (3) attesting to mathematics PD skills and teaching skills


Degree in science education (Masters preferred), undergraduate degree (Major) in a science field, and Canadian province teacher license in science. 

Application Process

Additional information about this career opportunity and the application process are available at our parent company’s “Careers” site:  https://sh.webhire.com/servlet/av/jd?ai=732&ji=2159111&sn=I&tf=JobDescriptionB.html

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:23 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

July 13, 2006

ExploreLearning and the "Bridging the Gap" Conference in Everett, WA

ExploreLearning looks forward to visiting Everett, Washington for "Bridging the Gap," a middle grades mathematics conference on July 25-27. Keynote speakers Dr. Lee Stiff, Professor of Mathematics from North Carolina State University and Dr. Glenda Lappan from Michigan State University, will discuss strategies for closing the achievement gap during these critical learning years.

In addition, teachers who attend the conference will have the chance to hear our own Thom O'Brien speak on how ExploreLearning Gizmos provide a powerful enhancement to the way teachers teach and students learn, in the middle school years and beyond.

If you are interested in knowing more about how your school can Bridge the Gap, check out Dr. Stiff’s presentation, "It Ain’t the Kidz" and see what schools can do to take ownership and make student performance in mathematics a priority.

Posted by Julia Given at 09:16 AM in Road Trips , Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

December 01, 2005

Gizmos Take Suburban Houston!

Spring ISD teachersI presented Gizmos to a group of about 25 algebra teachers in Spring ISD, Texas (just north of Houston), a couple weeks ago.  They were a fun and lively group!

We talked Gizmos and how they fit into an inquiry-based classroom.  Inquiry is a term that keeps coming up for us.  It is gaining more and more attention as an effective and research-proven teaching method, and Gizmos are a perfect tool for students to use to investigate questions raised in an inquiry lesson.

From a teaching perspective, the teachers were fans of our algebra-tiles-based Gizmos such as the Modeling One-Step Equations Gizmo.  They liked how zero pairs are represented, and also how the Gizmo illustrates adding one to both sides of an equation.

Spring teachers working with a GizmoFrom a fun/challenge perspective, the Spring teachers got hooked on the 3D and Orthographic Views Gizmo!  This Gizmo is a one-of-a-kind, and is terrific practice for students in visualizing three-dimensional figures.  The fun and addictive challenge is this: Can you build the given figures in the fewest blocks possible?  It's easy at first … until you get 3 or 4 questions in!  (Tip: Be sure to read through the Exploration Guide.  It contains many tips about how to use the Gizmo that you probably wouldn't figure out on your own.)

Anyway, I had a great time with a fun group in Spring, Texas, and it felt like a well-used staff-development day.  Good math teaching is alive and well in Spring… and we hope Gizmos can become a bigger and bigger part of it!

Posted by Dan at 02:30 PM in Road Trips , Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (0)

November 04, 2005

Look for EL at Upcoming Conferences

Look for ExploreLearning reps in a booth ready to demo Gizmos at one of the following conferences. Also look for full presentations by teachers who've been using Gizmos in their classrooms. If you're attending one of these conferences, stop by and say hello.

Conference City Date Presenter Booth
NY STA Ellenville November 6-8    
Making Connections Charlottesville November 7    
GaETC Atlanta November 8-10 Nancy Clark (in the Apple booth)
NCTM Western Regional Denver November 10-12 Jeff Steckroth Thom O’Brien
Ken Turner
NCTM Midwestern Regional Chicago November 10-12 Julie Eglite
Connie Ring
Rick Roegiers
VAST Roanoke November 17-19    
NSTA Southern
Nashville December 1-3 PRISM Rick Roegiers
Eve Solomon
Tennessee Ed
Nashville November 30
December 2
Liz Crews
Apple Booth
North Carolina
Ed Tech
Greensboro November 28
December 1
Thom O’Brien
Apple Booth
VA Ed Tech Roanoke December 5-7 Thom O’Brien Eve Solomon
Thom O’Brien

Posted by ExploreLearning at 04:40 PM in Road Trips , Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

October 28, 2005

How do I get the most out of Gizmos?

ExploreLearning Gizmos are great learning tools, but how you get the most out of them? How do you make time spent with a Gizmo effective learning time for your students? These are questions we've heard a lot from teachers, and they are crucial questions.  No tool automatically causes students to learn.What approaches seem to work for a lesson using Gizmos?

We've put together three documents that we hope will help answer those questions.

Posted by Dan at 03:05 PM in Help (User Support), Quick Tips, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (1)

September 22, 2005

Testimonial: "High Quality Trainers"

Here's some excellent praise that came in for our own, Thom O'Brien:

Shoreline [Public Schools in WA] subscribed to Explore Learning for three of our schools this year (2 middle - 1 high) after having done a limited pilot last year. Our teachers are enthusiastic about having this tool. I'm writing, however, to report that this enthusiasm escalated considerably due to Thom O'Brien's wonderful training session today. I've dabbled with EL for over a year and learned more in the first 20 minutes of Thom's presentation than in all that time on my own — and I reckon others felt the same way. Thom combined an easy-going style with solid practical implementation tips and some marvelous ideas on how to integrate Gizmos with other applications we use. I had to literally kick our teachers out of the room at 3:00 to free up the room — else I think they would have stayed well beyond the scheduled time …

I have already spoken to Thom about his possible return for another session with other teachers, and the teachers from today were in favor of the idea.

Thanks for the great product and for having such high quality trainers available to your clients.

Jim Golubich
Professional Development/Instructional Technology
Shoreline School District

Thanks, Jim, for your kind words. We're glad to hear that the implementation is off to a strong start.

Thom is quite a guy. By the way, if any of you happen to meet Thom when he visits your school as part of ExploreLearning's Professional Development and Teacher Training on Gizmos, be sure to ask him about a very interesting job he had in the past. (Hint: "Three rings. Big Show.")

Posted by ExploreLearning at 02:02 PM in Testimonials, Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 08, 2005


During the last week In July, ExploreLearning hosted its first Summer School Teacher Workshop. Educators from all over the country gathered in beautiful Charlottesville, Virginia for 2 days of hands-on learning, sharing and interacting. About 3 dozen middle and high school teachers (both math and science) braved the summer heat to enjoy thought provoking  sessions, delicious meals, and a nighttime visit to President James Monroe's scenic home Ashlawn Highland (just after a terrific thunderstorm which brought welcome relief from the heat). The teachers arrived either as long-time Gizmo fans or novices -- but they all left as BIG FANS of ExploreLearning Gizmos! They also enjoyed the chance to interact with ExploreLearning's product development and professional development teams.  The group was especially convivial, and new friendships were formed.

Based on its resounding success, Summer School is sure to be an annual event.

For your enjoyment, we've created a "photo album" of some of the best pictures we took during the two days in Charlottesville.

Posted by Michael Latsko at 03:17 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 05, 2005

2 Great Days in Dekalb, GA

photo of the training sessionAugust 3 and 4 were two great days in Dekalb County, Georgia. ExploreLearning is excited to be working with the Dekalb school district, particularly the Miller Grove High School Science Department.

During our two-day training session held at the High School the teachers got a chance to really unpack Gizmos and begin to weave them into their daily lessons. With the school year about to start, the teachers came away from the training with some Gizmos and lessons that they will be able to use almost within the first week of school.

Our first day was a standard ExploreLearning training day where we walked the teachers through the whole web site and got them familiar with how to log in, find Gizmos, add Gizmos to the teacher classes, and enroll their students. At the end of this first day the teachers were told to bring their curriculum guides, state standards and teachers editions to the next training.

Our second day was spent going over lessons that the teachers knew they were going to teach and adding the appropriate Gizmos to those lessons. Once that was done we started looking at how to deliver this instruction. Since the teachers were familiar with PowerPoint, we looked at linking Gizmos to their presentations, and using the screen capture tools that are built into the Gizmos to make their presentations more exciting. Once the teachers had created their presentation, we shared their work and had a great time listening to the ideas, and seeing the unique creativity that each teacher brought to their subject.

Posted by Thom O'Brien at 09:24 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 06, 2005

GIZMOS in Tuba City

Tuba City teachers working with ExploreLearning ExploreLearning moves under the wide-open skies of Arizona with its adoption in Tuba City. This June we had a great training and PD day there as the teachers started looking into using GIZMOS with their students and integrating them into their curricula. The teachers were excited to see how easy the GIZMOS were to use and found many ways to incorporate the GIZMOS across curriculum areas.

Have fun using GIZMOS Tuba City…we look forward to hearing beautiful music from your area!

Posted by Thom O'Brien at 03:11 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 04, 2005

GIZMOS in Greenville

a Greenville teacher using a Gizmo June 28 the Professional Development department at ExploreLearning took a little trip down to Greenville, South Carolina. A good day was spent setting up ExploreLearning accounts, and working with middle and high school math and science teachers. Greenville is a large district on the northwest side of the state and they are all very excited to start using GIZMOS in the classroom at the start of the school year. Many of the teachers were going to take some time over the summer and work with their colleagues on multidisciplinary lessons utilizing GIZMOS and curriculum that they were already familiar with.

The Greenville math department already has a head start on this project, as one of their very own, Valerie Muller, has been an ExploreLearning advocate for some time. Valerie has taken the Greenville middle school mathematics scope and sequence chart and aligned the appropriate GIZMOS to each lesson!

ExploreLearning will be back in Greenville in August to work with the rest of the district math and science teachers and we’re excited for the upcoming Greenville school year. See you in a few weeks Greenville!

Posted by Thom O'Brien at 10:43 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 28, 2005

Enroll Now! EL Summer School for Teachers

Join us July 27 and 28 in Charlottesville, Virginia for a hands-on workshop using ExploreLearning Gizmos.

ExploreLearning Summer School offers opportunities for middle and high school teachers to immerse themselves in ExploreLearning Math Gizmos.  Learn to integrate Gizmos into your school's curriculum and to differentiate instruction using Gizmos. 

The $450 registration fee includes:

  • A one-year ExploreLearning Teacher Plus Students Subscription (retail value $799)
  • Hands-on workshops led by distinguished educators
  • Take-home materials
  • Lunch with ExploreLearning developers and content writers
  • Dinner and concert at historic Ash Lawn-Highland
  • Networking opportunities, and more!

*Registration for teachers with existing ExploreLearning accounts will be discounted. See registration form for tuition discount.

email: [email protected]
phone (toll free): 866-882-4141 ext 232

Check out our schedule of events and information on accommodations at www.explorelearning.com/summerschool.

Posted by Eve Solomon at 02:35 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Now Showing: Gizmo Demo Movies!

ExploreLearning has gone Hollywood! (sort of...) We've added five demonstration movies to our site:

The introduction movie is perfect for first-time visitors to ExploreLearning.com. It answers the question, "What is a Gizmo?" and also shows how Gizmos can help improve teaching and learning. (All that in under 8 minutes -- not bad, huh?)

The four Teaching with Gizmos movies show how you might teach a specific lesson using Gizmos. Each of these movies focuses on one Gizmo and highlights what that Gizmo helps you do to enhance student learning. (These movies are about 4-to-6 minutes each.)

We hope these movies are helpful to you. Maybe they can even help you take your teaching with Gizmos to another level. Let us know what you think!

Links to the movies are on the front page of ExploreLearning.com, and also in our new-and-improved Help Center (click on the small gray '?' at the top right corner of the screen).

By the way, these movies are large files (anywhere from 2 MB to 6 MB). They take some time to download -- depending on the speed of your internet connection, of course -- so be patient. They're well worth the wait!

Posted by Dan at 04:41 PM in Help (User Support), Site Announcements, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 23, 2005

Ann Arbor goes GIZMO

On May 10 and 11 the Ann Arbor middle and high school science teachers took time off to get familiar with Gizmos and Explorelearning. The two days were pack with lessons on how to use Gizmos, aligning them to daily lessons and making the best of the new technology that the teachers now have.

Ann Arbor teachers at a Gizmo workshopSome of the more interesting topics covered included: The relationship between rabbit populations to snake; What’s the lowest hill that will crack an egg in a zero friction environmen?; and, of course, viewing a whole moon cycle in a little under 2 minutes. By the end of each day the teachers were ready to go back into their building and start putting Gizmo to use with their students.

A special thanks to Linda Ann Prieskorn for making sure all the logistics were taken care of before each day. And thanks to the Ann Arbor teachers for bringing Explorelearning and Gizmos into their district!

Posted by Thom O'Brien at 03:49 PM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink

April 12, 2005

Henrico Schools Go Gizmo!

Henrico County Schools in Richmond, Virginia have really started going Gizmo!

Henrico teachers working with laptopThree unique after school inservices were held for the Henrico teachers to help them align Gizmos to the Virginia SOL’s and match them out to their daily practices. These sessions were a huge success for the teachers as they got a chance to learn how to use the screen capture and exporting data charts utilities to take information from the Gizmo and paste it into their word processing software.

The teachers got a chance to collaborate both within their buildings and across the district. Teachers were allowed to share ideas about how they had been using Gizmos and what kind of success they have had in their classrooms. From there they looked at building off that success and integrating Gizmos more and more into their instruction. By the end of the third session the teachers had more than enough information to take Gizmos back into the classroom to enhance their teaching.

Way to go Henrico, and GO GIZMOS!

Posted by Thom O'Brien at 09:50 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (2)

April 07, 2005

ExploreLearning Teams with Northwest Missouri State U. and Project Prism

ExploreLearning is pleased to announce a partnership with Northwest Missouri State University and Project PRISM (Promoting Reasoning and Inquiry in Science and Math). Project PRISM provides training for Missouri teachers of science in grades four through eight to introduce best practices in science education.

"We are thrilled to be a part of the Project PRISM and to be working with Northwest Missouri State on this important initiative," said Dave Shuster, Founder and President of ExploreLearning. "Through this collaboration, we will be able to support many teachers with new tools that will help them bring more inquiry and research-proven instructional practice into the classroom."

With the integration of ExploreLearning's extensive library of math and science Gizmos, teachers will learn how to incorporate innovative instructional techniques through the use of technology.

Project Prism teachers in group photo"One of the primary goals of the PRISM Project is to increase the use of technology as a learning tool in the classroom," said Marilyn Rhea, PRISM Project Director; "We know that this partnership with ExplorLearning will be valuable to our teachers as they develop classroom strategies that enable them to facilitate active learning for all of their students. We particularly see possibilities for students to confront their misconceptions and reform their understandings as they interact with the GIZMO programs."

Teachers involved with the project will commit to three years in the program. The program of study includes videoconferences, instruction over the internet and a four-week residency on the Northwest campus each summer.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 11:38 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 15, 2005

Newport News Teachers Explore Gizmos

Nnewsgroup ExploreLearning had a great time visiting the Newport News Public Schools' Aviation Academy for a day of professional development. The event, organized by Martha Askew, Secondary Supervisor of Mathematics and a long time ExploreLearning Friend (ELF) gave Teachers and Technology Curriculum Integration Specialists (TCIS) a chance to navigate ExploreLearning.com and experiment with Gizmos related to their courses of study. The group created some fabulous worksheets and lesson plans. The lessons are posted on Step.com - an online resource center for Newport News teachers.

As you may have read in previous blog postings, any teacher who turns in quality lesson plans or worksheets for Gizmos will be eligible for gift certificates to our Cafe Press Store. So for all you ELFs (ExploreLearning Friends) send your lesson plans or worksheet to the attention of Eve Solomon or Thom O'Brien. Upon review, we will contact you and send out gift cards. Can't wait to see what folks are doing!

Posted by ExploreLearning at 09:34 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 02, 2005

ProDev in Florida

On February 16, ExploreLearning took a trip down to Florida to welcome the newest members to the Gizmo team. The mathematics department at Parkview High School spent the afternoon getting trained on setting up their homepages, establishing their profiles and getting a first glimpse into the power of Gizmos.

group photo of teachers and Dave Shuster, EL founder By the end of the session the teachers were ready to start integrating Gizmos into their daily lessons. Even more than just integration, a few of the teachers were ready to start making some extremely challenging handouts and study guides using the Gizmos' screen capture utilities. As a group the teachers were very excited about using Gizmos and were happy to see how easy it was to work within the site and the depth of content.

Go Parkview and Go GIZMOS!!

Posted by Thom O'Brien at 09:10 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005

Gizmo Training in Norfolk

Another great ExploreLearning day! After spending a day in Norfolk working with teachers and integrating Gizmos into their lessons, I can't tell you how much fun I had. After an agonizing 3d challenge, and some very cool algebra tile examples, math will never be the same down on the coast. As a group we decided to start putting our thoughts together for the first annual ExploreLearning Summer Institute. Watch the BUZZ we'll be keeping folks updated on our theme and progress throughout the upcoming months.

As an added bonus I was convinced that any teacher who turns in some good, high quality, lesson plans or worksheets for Gizmos will be eligible for gift certificates to our Cafe Express store. So for all you other ELF (ExploreLearning Friends) if you've got some good lesson plans or worksheet send them into Eve Solomon or myself, we'll start reviewing them and sending out gift cards. Can't wait to see what folks are doing!


Posted by Thom O'Brien at 08:03 AM in Training and Professional Development | Permalink | Comments (0)