Talk About a Gizmo, Win a Flip Camera
Recently we've given away a couple of top-of-the line Flip cameras with a custom Gizmos design. People have responded so well to these great little video recorders, that we would like to get more into the hands of Gizmos fans.
It's easy to enter this contest. Just go to our Gizmos Facebook page and tell us your favorite Gizmo and a few sentences about how it has positively impacted teaching and learning in your classroom. Between now and Sunday, March 6th, math and science teachers who post original entries on our wall and "Like" our page will be entered to win.
On March 7, 2011, we will draw from all eligible entries for one grand-prize winner of the Flip camera, and three grab bag winners of assorted EL merchandise.
Of course, this contest isn't just about the prizes. We hope the feedback provided by other educators will give you ideas you can use in your teaching. We encourage you to comment on other posts: ask questions and provide your own insights.
Expert Corner: Fractions
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.
Fractions are one of the most frequent lessons in a young student's education. Many schools introduce them in grade 2 and continue to teach fraction concepts through grade 7. In fact, the NCTM Focal Points document (2006) and the National Math Advisory Panel (2008) have both recommended that teachers spend larger portions of their time teaching this valuable topic.
Conceptual understanding of fractions is important because they play a pivotal role in higher-level mathematics. Teachers' toolkits for explaining fractions include such diverse resources as pattern blocks, egg cartons, Cuisenaire rods and candy bars. In order to build conceptual foundations, students need to "see" fractions through a variety of different models.
Gizmos are particularly well suited to helping teachers move through fraction models effectively and efficiently. ExploreLearning has many Gizmos devoted to fractions that help teachers provide multiple representations of the concept.
Here are some great Gizmos to try with your students. The Toy Factory Gizmo can be used to demonstrate fractions as a part of a whole or part of a set. The Comparing and Ordering Fractions and Fraction Garden Gizmos can be used to help students compare fractions and set the building blocks in place for adding and subtracting fractions. Also, Gizmos such as Multiplying Fractions and Multiplying Mixed Numbers help students learn to multiply fractions.
Using Gizmos when studying fractions allows teachers to concentrate on building students’ conceptual understanding. Gizmos allow students to evaluate pictorial representations of sets, manipulate numerators and denominators, and bridge the symbolic fractional representation with the abstract understanding of fractional numeric value.
Gizmo Educator of the Month
Amy Van Pelt, a National Board Certified Teacher, has been teaching science in Arkansas for the past eight years; first in North Little Rock School District and now in Bentonville Public Schools. She received her board certification in Early Adolescent Science in 2007. She currently teaches 6th grade integrated science.
Mrs. Van Pelt's teaching style is to fuse hands-on labs with high-tech activities. When she attended a Gizmos training event in her district last year, she thought it would be only natural to incorporate Gizmos into each of her units.
When we asked her about how she uses Gizmos, Mrs. Van Pelt gave us a lot of interesting examples. She pointed to the Density Gizmo as a great tool for teaching that density is a characteristic property, and noted that she can easily differentiate the density lesson with this Gizmo. Students who quickly grasped the basics then move on to Density Experiment: Slice and Dice.
Her class voted the Forest Ecosystem Gizmo as their favorite. She uses this Gizmo to model the process of scientific inquiry, not as a rigid procedure, but as a flowchart of observations and ideas. She has the students play the role of scientists in real-world scenarios, such as becoming biologists collecting data and making observations to determine how a farm's use of fungicide might affect the local forest ecosystem.
“I asked the students what was it about Gizmos that most appealed to them. The first few answers were that Gizmos were fun interactive games, but with a bit more reflection students told me they enjoyed being able to manipulate situations, make decisions and predictions and receive immediate results and feedback.”