As budgets have been slashed, we have had to get really creative about professional development. Today we had a consultant come in and do a demonstration lesson for every grade level! We had a rotating schedule using a few subs and lots of in-house coverage so that every teacher that teaches Math or Science could attend their grade level demo. Each grade level gave the consultant a topic that they were studying and she came into a real class and used Gizmos to teach the concept to the children while taking time in between to answer questions. We have been talking about Gizmos for some time but, honestly, until I actually saw it in action, I really couldn't envision all that it could do. It's really a way to set up experiments on the computer. For our kindergartners who have been studying the effects of gravity, she set up an experiment at the Leaning Tower of Pizza. Of course, Angel identified the Tower and let us all know that it is "a landmark in Europe!" The children suggested different scenarios involving a ping pong ball, basketball, backpack, etc. dropping two items at a time and predicting which they thought would hit the ground first and then making a hypothesis and testing it out on the next scenario. The students were so engaged!
Of course, like so many things, the Gizmos are designed for our 3-5th graders and not for Kindergartners. Of course, the instructor showed how they can be adapted and used but it would still take lots of time to search the bank and figure out how to modify the different scenarios for such students. However, this is a post about being creative in designing professional development and this set up provided such a "real" experience with our own children. Doesn't get any better than that!