Saturday, January 8, 2011

Gizmos - Gadgets for Math and Science

One of my favorite benefits from attending conferences is learning new ways to help students learn. I attended a session at NCTIES 2009 that used an interactive whiteboard and an online program called Gizmos from ExploreLearning.

Gizmos is an online simulation program for science and math. It has multimedia activities for grades 3-5, 6-8. and 9-12. The activities target higher order thinking skills. Because they are visual and interactive, students seem to enjoy practicing the skills. ExploreLearning follows the research findings of Robert Marzano's teaching strategies that show positive effects when students use computer-based manipulatives.

The 380+ multimedia activities are correlated to state standards and textbook adoptions. When you go to the site, scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose "Gizmo correlations (to states and textbooks)" to go to their catalog listing. There you can browse through Math, Science, state correlations, textbook correlations, or a full list of their collection - by grade level or topic. Each of the NC standards had one or more activities linked to it. Included for the activity was Teacher Materials and Student Lesson Materials with guides, objectives, vocabulary and assessments.

Gizmos will let you work on any of the activities, but if you stay on one for longer than five minutes, it will kick you back to the main screen and ask you to login or register to try a free, 30-day trial version. Once you're registered, you can copy graphs that have been created during the activity and paste them into a document. There is a screenshot feature and you can design your own worksheets from the pictures and documents.

I saw lots of possibilities with the computer-based manipulatives and especially using them with an interactive whiteboard. Think of all the fun you could have "seeing" your problem "come to life."

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