May 15, 2013
Math Gizmos - Lesson Materials - 3 new sets released
Perimeters and Areas of Similar Figures - Suppose you took a figure and doubled all of its side lengths. How would its perimeter change? What about its area? Why?
Concurrent Lines, Medians, and Altitudes - If you cut a triangle out of something sturdy, like cardboard, where is its balancing point? How would you find it?
Introduction to Exponential Functions (formerly known as "Exponential Growth and Decay - Activity B") - What's an exponential function all about? How do the y-values behave? What do all exponential functions have in common?
As always, our goal here is real student understanding, beyond just formulas or memorization.
Reminder: Our updated Lesson Materials have 4 documents (Student Exploration Sheet, Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary Sheet), each available as a .doc or .pdf. (You'll need to be logged in to see all four documents.)At this point, 63 high-school- and middle-school-level math Gizmos have now received the updated Lesson Materials "treatment." We hope you and your students enjoy these latest new ones!
If you'd like to try these Gizmos, or any of the others in our library, sign up for a free trial today!
May 09, 2013
Expert Corner: PD Options for Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards
After 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 atExploreLearning 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.
Districts 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.
Scott Lehman: ExploreLearning Educator of the MonthMr. Scott Lehman has taught for 18 years, and has a B.S. from Pennsylvania State University and an M.S. in Science Education from Nova Southeastern University. He teaches 5th grade science in a Palm Beach County public school.
Mr. Lehman began to use Gizmos when he taught at Village Academy in 2007. He had the opportunity to participate in a Gizmos initial training workshop, and was immediately “hooked.” He found Gizmos both exciting and educational, and saw that the simulations would work as another tool to help his students study science.
His students are excited to learn using Gizmos, and Mr. Lehman uses them to spark interest in the topics they study. Gizmos help start a discussion at the beginning of the lesson, and often the conversations among students continue throughout. He finds that Gizmos help students gain a better understanding of the topics they discuss in class and how they connect to one another.
Mr. Lehman’s students often have a hard time grasping the concept of energy conservation. Using the Energy Conversions Gizmo helps his students understand the different pathways that can be created with energy. Mr. Lehman spends time introducing the Gizmo, and, after the students work through the simulations, the discussion questions encourage the students to talk amongst themselves. The Gizmo helps the students gain a better understanding of energy.
Mr. Lehman has observed that both students and teachers get excited when they use science Gizmos. He finds that the best part of using a Gizmo is the “Ah-hah” moment. Students will recognize something in class and tell him that they learned it before when they were using a Gizmo. “When students look at you and realize what they are learning is exciting, fun and educational, that’s what makes teaching worth it,” says Mr. Lehman.
May 07, 2013
ExploreLearning Gizmos wins CODiE Award!
We're happy to announce that Gizmos has won the SIIA CODiE Award for Best Science/Health Instructional Solution!
This year's award marks ExploreLearning's 6th CODiE win. The CODiE Awards recognize leaders and innovators across the software, digital content and education technology industries. We are honored to be included among these leaders.
The SIIA CODiE Awards website has a list of all the 2013 Award Winners.
May 02, 2013
Math Gizmos - new Lesson Materials released todayAnother new batch of math Lesson Materials is hot out of the oven! We've cooked up some geometry for you and your students:
In these lessons, we work to build students' understanding of these topics, beyond just the formulas or definitions. How can you use a geoboard to show that, in right triangles, a2 + b2 = c2? Also, we've often heard that similar polygons have the same shape but not necessarily the same size. What exactly does that mean in terms of side lengths and angle measures?
As always, our updated Lesson Materials have 4 documents (Student Exploration Sheet, Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary Sheet), each available as a .doc or .pdf. (You'll need to be logged in to see all four documents.)So we are now up to 60 high-school- and middle-school-level math Gizmos with updated Lesson Materials.
If you'd like to try these Gizmos, or any of the others in our library, sign up for a free trial today!
April 25, 2013
ExploreLearning Gizmos nominated for two AEP Awards
We are pleased to announce that ExploreLearning Gizmos has been named a finalist in the 2013 Association of Educational Publishers Distinguished Achievement Awards. One of the largest and longest-running programs of its kind, the AEP Awards are widely recognized by educators, administrators, and parents as a mark of outstanding educational value.
Gizmos is a finalist in these categories:
- Distinguished Achievement Award: Supplemental Resources/ Best Science solution
- Distinguished Achievement Award: Supplemental Resources/ Best Math solution
Winners will be announced June 4th at the AEP Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C.
See the complete list of AEP Award Finalists.
April 17, 2013
Expert Corner: Next Generation Science Standards
Laura Chervenak has been with ExploreLearning since 2010, and she is currently 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.
The Next Generation Science Standards were released in their final form just as thousands of teachers and administrators were arriving in San Antonio, Texas for the 2013 NSTA National Conference. Conversations and presentations around the new standards were found in almost every room and hallway as educators gathered information to take back to their districts.
You may also be asking yourself, “Now that the standards are final, what steps should we be taking to prepare for adoption and implementation?” Here are five steps you can take to get up-to-speed.
Dive deeply into the Framework for K-12 Science Education.Students don’t study the law before they understand the Constitution. They don’t study medicine before they take anatomy. Similarly, science educators need to understand the foundation of the new standards as it is laid out in the three dimensions of the Framework — the Disciplinary Core Ideas, the Standards of Scientific and Engineering Practices, and the Crosscutting Concepts.
Study the architecture of the Next Generation Science Standards. Ted Willard’s article, “A Look at the Next Generation Science Standards,” provides an overview and diagram of the information contained in the standards. This article will explain that these standards are written as performance expectations, which describe what students should be able to do at the end of instruction.
Find the grade level(s) you are most interested in and take a look. Now that you know how the standards are structured, download the PDF of the standards arranged by topic. This format will help you to see the big picture for your chosen grade level(s). Read the Storyline first to see a summary of the performance expectations and then move on to the detailed NGSS Boxes for the grade level(s). Don’t read the performance expectations in isolation! Be sure to include the clarification statements, assessment boundaries, and foundation information from the three dimensions of the Framework.
Review the appendices. The authors of the NGSS provide a wealth of information in the appendices to the NGSS. Depending on your personal interest, they are all worth reading, but if you are pressed for time you should make a few your priority. First, if you are still grappling with the idea of performance expectations, or if you are wondering just what the authors were thinking when they were writing the standards, you should read Appendix A, Conceptual Shifts. It is an excellent description of the philosophies that guided the development of the standards. Appendices E-J describe the progressions through each grade band endpoint, showing the increase in content and skill sophistication from Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Learn from others. Talk with colleagues. Join an NGSS study group or PLN. Attend webinars. Read journal articles. Attend conferences and workshops. This summer, ExploreLearning is sponsoring the NSELA Next Generation Science Standards Leadership Institute in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. NSTA also offers many different ways to learn more about the NGSS at www.nsta.org/ngss.
Gizmos are a great vehicle to address the new science standards in your classroom. Gizmos allow students to engage in inquiry-driven scientific investigations, as well as help students develop a deep understanding of all the core ideas.
ExploreLearning is ready to be your partner in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. If you haven't delved into Gizmos yet,take a free trial and see how well they help prepare you for the next generation in science teaching and learning.
Julie DeBoer: ExploreLearning Educator of the Month
Julie DeBoer is a 5th grade science teacher at an elementary school in Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Texas and has been teaching for six years.
When you enter Julie DeBoer’s classroom, you will often find the students engaged in exploring science concepts with Gizmos. This consistent use of Gizmos in her classroom is the reason why Ms. DeBoer has been awarded the title of Cy-Fair’s Outstanding Elementary Gizmo User for the past two years. Ms. DeBoer‘s students have found great success in developing their conceptual understanding of science through the meaningful explorations Gizmos provide.
Ms. DeBoer loves that Gizmos allow her to simulate an experiment that they might not be able to do in class. “The students love doing Gizmos because they get so much out of it, and the lesson is no longer just me talking and telling them about science concepts,” she says.
One of her favorite Gizmos is“Seasons: Why do we have them?” The Gizmo shows students how rays of light affect the temperature on earth, and why it is hotter in the summertime. “As soon as we do the Gizmo together and they are on their own, the students understand direct and indirect rays and how those rays are associated with the seasons.” She also likes to use the Moon Phases Gizmo since it helps her students understand the relationship between the moon phases and how they change.
Ms. DeBoer uses Gizmos every day in her Science Rotations. She makes sure that her students encounter science concepts in a multitude of ways. Through the various uses of Gizmos for introductory, exploratory, conceptual building, and refresher experiences, Mrs. DeBoer brings science learning to life throughout the teaching and learning cycle. By varying the means in which students experience Gizmos, including as an individual, as partners, in small groups, and as a whole group, every student has the opportunity to work within his or her optimum learning style.
Ms. DeBoer successfully brings together tried and true teaching strategies, ongoing and varied learning opportunities, and the power of ExploreLearning Gizmos to provide the best learning scenario for her 5th grade students.
April 12, 2013
ExploreLearning Gizmos: 2013 BESSIE Award Winner
We're honored to announce that both Gizmos and Reflex, our math fact fluency program, have won BESSIES -- 19th Annual Best Educational Software Awards from ComputED Gazette in the "Multi-level" category.
The BESSIE Awards target innovative and content-rich programs and websites that provide parents and teachers with the technology to foster educational excellence.
Read the full press release on our parent company's website.
Take a free Gizmos trial to try out our award-winning online math and science simulations!
April 09, 2013
New Lesson Materials for 3 more math Gizmos
These 3 Gizmos take our usual inquiry-based approach to teaching math. We strive to ask rather than tell, with students using the Gizmo as an exploratory "what if" tool to build their understanding of the topic at hand. In particular, "Estimating Population Size" is a favorite of mine. It uses the "capture-recapture" method of estimating the fish population of a pond, leading to some really good mathematical thinking. Check it out if you haven't already!
As always, our updated Lesson Materials have 4 documents (Student Exploration Sheet, Answer Key, Teacher Guide, and Vocabulary Sheet), each available as a .doc or .pdf. (You'll need to be logged in to see all four documents.)This brings us to 57 high-school- and middle-school-level math Gizmos with updated Lesson Materials - with lots more on the way! 'Tis a busy year in the ExploreLearning math curriculum development factory.
If you'd like to try these Gizmos, or any of the others in our library, you can sign up for a free trial today!