In her 23 years of teaching, Kathy Gehman has seen and done a lot. Currently a teacher at Rutledge Elementary School in Austin, TX, she has taught middle school, high school, and now elementary school. For 15 years, she’s taught science and social studies; with the onset of COVID, she has taken on all subjects. She is also part of the curriculum writing team at Rutledge.
Gehman started teaching with
Gizmos in the 2021-22 school year. “With everything else going on during the pandemic, we didn’t want to try anything different, but I’m glad we did this year. Even though we are usually a very hands-on science district, our kids really enjoy Gizmos,” she says.
Gehman utilizes Gizmos in a number of different ways, which points to the flexibility of online simulations—their adaptability to a variety of teaching/learning conditions, lesson plans, and student needs.
Explains Gehman, “I sometimes use it as a pre-teach in Google Classroom, to get kids familiar with the concepts we’ll be discussing. Sometimes I use them to review concepts we’ve already addressed, or as an item on a choice board.”
After the last few difficult years, “I’m finding that kids do not know how to follow instructions as well as they did a few years ago,” says Gehman. “Gizmos help with that by allowing students to pace themselves. Maybe they don’t get through the whole assignment or get the right answers right away, but with Gizmos they can work through concepts in their own time.”
She continues, “After a year and a half of online learning, we’re being very conscious of what really needs to be taught on a computer. The district is particular about how and how often we use Gizmos, so we couple them with physical labs and hands-on materials.”
Gehman still uses traditional instructional methods with great results, but Gizmos also help at assessment time. “In-person, hands-on science is often more fun, and can be better for visual learners,” she says. “But the hands-on experience often doesn’t translate well when it’s computerized test time. Gizmos help bridge that gap as well.”
And curriculum-based assessments every nine weeks have shown Gehman that the concepts that Gizmos teach—and the Gizmos themselves—have resonated with students. “The material that we’ve taught using Gizmos is what the students really seem to remember.”
“They especially liked the Circuit Builder, Hearing: Frequency and Volume, and Sound Beats and Sine Waves Gizmos,” Gehman says. “When they use Gizmos, the concepts really stick with them.”