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Mathematical Gizmos

Mathematics teachers are always looking for software that can help students tease out important mathematical ideas. Problems or concerns that often arise involve cost, ease of use, availability, hardware requirements, etc.

The reason for recommending this web site is its simplicity in use. I have to admit I do not know its cost, plus am concerned that it seems to hide other important information (e.g. its development team, other than Raman Pfaff who coined the term "gizmo") etc. Nonetheless, I will leave it up to you to decide the websites' merits, but you need to browse carefully first (within the "gift" 5-minute pass per gizmo per day).

ExploreLearning's Gizmos are "modular, interactive simulations" in both mathematics and science (grades 6-12). Sounds good right? The website offers more than 400 gizmos as supplemental curriculum materials directly correlated to both state and national curriculum standards...and based on "research-proven instructional strategies."

For both grades 6-8 and 9-12, the realm of mathematics gizmos "cover" the conceptual sides of mathematics ala the NCTM Standards:

  • Number and operations
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Measurement
  • Data analysis and probability
The college-level includes developmental mathematics and algebra/precalculus.

Every gizmo includes an associated Exploration Guide, the option to do a screen capture, and assessment options. By playing with gizmos, alot of exploration can occur....but I got frustrated by a feeling of confinement to a set agenda. That is, I wanted to adjust/move/test more than that set gizmo allowed.

To learn more about using gizmos, the web site offers demonstration videos, streamed discussions, a help line, and a 30-day trial of the full set of gizmos. Let me know if you try out the gizmos and find them to be excellent tools.