Tweet for a Chance to Win Gizmos
ExploreLearning is now on Twitter! To celebrate, we're giving away prizes, including three goodie bags full of great Gizmo merchandise (pictured below), and one grand prize: a one-year Teacher-plus-Students subscription to Gizmos.
If you are a teacher or school administrator, just follow these simple steps to be eligible to win:
On October 8, we will collect all the eligible tweets and select winners at random. We will direct message the winners for follow-up details.
Even if you don't win, following us will give you access to real-time updates on Gizmos, the world of Math and Science, and even what's happening here in our Charlottesville, VA headquarters office. And whenever you tweet something about Gizmos, we're likely to re-tweet your message to our growing list of followers.
Expert's Corner: Conceptual Foundations in Math
Thom O'Brien has been with ExploreLearning for eight years in a variety of roles, including working with teachers to integrate Gizmos into more effective teaching in Math and Science. Thom has a Master's degree in Instructional Mathematics and he taught 7th grade math before joining EL.
Have your students worked through math problems, performing the mechanics of each step, but not having the foggiest idea why that procedure works? Some students have become masters at solving problems just by mimicking steps, rather than by really understanding what they're doing, and why. This disconnect can be the result of a lack of a deep conceptual understanding of the topic. Providing students opportunities to visualize the concepts, discuss their thinking, and work in small groups can help students build these conceptual foundations.
Today's mathematics teachers can infuse lessons with practice that supports conceptual learning. A great way to do this is with visual models of mathematical concepts and problems. Obviously, Gizmos are a great support for visual learning. Try just about any math Gizmo — for example Comparing and Ordering Fractions. This Gizmo helps students develop a visual representation of least common denominator and gives them a basis for understanding how to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators.
In addition, teachers can move math classrooms towards conceptual problem solving with the language used in the room. Mathematical communication is saturated with "doer" verbs; write, draw, build, graph, multiply, for example. Simply adding in some "thinker" verbs such as think about, decide, explain, reflect on, and consider, help teachers take students down the road toward more complex mathematical thinking. As an example, try the Quilting Bee Gizmo. As a warm up activity, ask students to reflect on symmetry by having them find it in the world around them or in magazine pictures. Then with the Gizmo, ask them to extend their thinking by considering additional lines of symmetry in the quilts they have been working with.
Read the research behind Gizmos for more information on how simulations can be powerful tools for improving student learning.
Go go GIZMOS!!!
Gizmo Educator of the Month
Kristy McElhinny is a high school biology teacher in Afton, New York. She uses Gizmos with ninth through twelfth graders in Regents Biology class and Advanced Biology electives.
A few years ago, a colleague introduced Kristy to the Photosynthesis Lab Gizmo. She was so impressed, she worked with her district to bring Gizmos to her entire school. Since then, she has given presentations to other teachers on Gizmos and has become a very active contributor within the website's online community.
Kristy says that Gizmos have revolutionized the way she teaches. Her school does not have the equipment to run complex or lengthy biology experiments, and Gizmos open up those realms to her classes. She points to not just Photosynthesis Lab, but also such diverse Gizmos as Greenhouse Effect and Circulatory System. But it's not just the new teaching opportunities she appreciates:
“My favorite part of using Gizmos is how engaging it is to the students. Instead of just telling them, 'if you add snakes to an ecosystem, the hawks will increase and the rabbits will decrease,' they can use trial and error to discover these concepts themselves. Students learn by doing and with Gizmos, there is so much more that they can do.”
Take a look at the wealth of Gizmo Recommendations and Lesson Materials Kristy has contributed to ExploreLearning.com. She has adapted our Lesson Materials to her students' ability levels, and she has shared many of her favorite Gizmos with the ExploreLearning Community.
Gizmo recommendations, Lesson Materials, and Shared Class Gizmo Lists are available to ExploreLearning subscribers and free trialers, based on "What I Teach" settings. They are customized just for your teaching! Watch the Community Features Overview to learn more about these and other exciting additions. You can learn more about ExploreLearning and Teaching with Gizmos in our Video Library as well.
Gizmos on YouTube
We did a quick search on YouTube and found some really neat videos about Gizmos and ExploreLearning.com out there. We have put these together on our YouTube ELGizmos Channel, so you can easily find them.
Some of our favorites have to be the enthusiastic fourth graders who give hands-on demonstrations of their favorite Gizmos. But there are also great demos and reviews from educators. And we even found a clip from the Association of Educational Publishers when they presented us with the Golden Lamp Award for best curriculum!
We are working on putting up some of our own videos. We have great footage of Gizmos in action in classrooms across the country which we will be sharing very soon. Subscribe to our channel now and YouTube will notify you when the videos become available.
We would love to see you in action! If you have (or want to make) videos about Gizmos, post them to YouTube so others can see your work. Tag your content with #ExploreLearning, so it is easier to find. It doesn't have to be the next Avatar — anything showing Gizmos in the real world would be perfect.