Teri Green, a high school math and science teacher in Ontario, was first introduced to Gizmos about 8 years ago. Right away she was “intrigued by the interactive nature of Gizmos.”
The first Gizmo Ms. Green used was Polygon Angle Sum. “I loved the ease and speed with which I could change the number of sides and generate the entire data table of the sum of internal and external angles on the Gizmo. Being able to grab a corner of any polygon and shrink it down to a point to verify that the external angle sum was still 360 is very powerful for kids. Splitting any polygon into triangles and seeing that there are always n-2 of them is way better than simply quoting the formula for the sum of the interior angles. I tend to do this one as a whole group, teacher led discussion with the Gizmo on a smart board.”
Since then, she’s been happy to find even more Gizmos that make “difficult concepts easier to grasp.” A series of Gizmos that help students “understand the parameters of quadratic and exponential equations” have also become favorites. “Seeing the effect on a graph of sliding a value of one of the parameters in real time is so helpful for kids. I really like the fact that the student exploration activities are designed to lead kids to draw their own conclusions and that they are editable so I can customize them for my own students. The assessment questions give me a quick view of who got it and who didn’t after they’ve done a Gizmo. It helps me to know where I need to refocus.”
She adds, “the Function Machine Gizmos are great for the grade 9 curriculum (linear relations) and I have had several other colleagues agree that we will never teach linear relationships without these Gizmos again. They also fit perfectly with some patterns to algebra material we’ve been using in recent years.”
Her science classes “have used a series of ecosystem Gizmos to help kids understand the interconnectedness of all organisms. This is a difficult concept because we can’t manipulate these factors in the real world. The Gizmos do an excellent job simulating experiments that we could never do. I also really like the
Digestive System Gizmo because of its experimental nature. Likewise, the Homeostasis and Disease Spread Gizmos let kids conduct experiments that would be impossible or impractical for them to do in the real world.”
Students “have a deeper understanding of material” when she uses a Gizmo. “Whether I use a Gizmo as a demonstration in front of the whole group or have each student (or pairs of kids) walk through the student exploration on their own computer, there’s no denying that Gizmos help kids understand difficult material.”
Teri Green has been teaching since 1987. She has a B.Ed. specializing in Secondary Math and Science from the University of New Brunswick and a DAUS (Diploma of Advanced Undergraduate Study) in secondary math and science. She teaches math and science at South Lincoln High School, District School Board of Niagara, Ontario.