Reshawndra Hutchins-Trapp, a 7th grade Life Science and Gifted Lead Teacher at Elite Scholars Academy located in Clayton County, Georgia, was introduced to ExploreLearning Gizmos as a way to improve the depth of learning and increase the amount of science labs completed in classrooms. She was excited to use the simulation activities and take students on scientific journeys. “We can not travel to see the coral reefs of the Atlantic, but students can get an understanding of the beauty of the reefs. Understanding and connecting with nature allows for students to become stewards for the environment,” she noted.
As teachers across the country understand, the return to in-person learning has included a few struggles. Hutchins-Trapp’s students left the classroom as 4th graders and re-entered in-person school as 6th graders. She realized that her “students' science skills are unrefined (through no fault of the students) and understanding the methods of science has provided some students with difficulty.” Hutchins-Trapp feels that Gizmos are an important part of her science instruction. Using Gizmos allows her to bring reading, research, and interactive activities to her science classes that are both challenging and engaging for her students. She has noticed improvement and increased confidence with her students' communication and evidence gathering skills.
After ten years of successful implementation, she feels that Gizmos are powerful tools in the science toolbox for teachers to challenge and improve their student's understanding of science. “The move to argumentation in science has challenged student's understanding and critical thinking,” said Hutchins-Trapp. “Students have used several Gizmos to develop their understanding of argumentation. For example, the Coral Reefs Gizmo (Abiotic Factors) is used in my classroom to model how various factors have impacted the loss of coral in the Caribbean.”
Gizmos gives the 102 students in her classes access to content in ways that are not available in traditional classrooms. “During virtual learning, Gizmos allows for students to continue to engage in lab work and model the work real scientists do in the field,” said Hutchins-Trapp. She uses Gizmos for classroom activities and homework as well as for reinforcement and differentiation.
As Hutchins-Trapp said, “Gizmos bring the clouds clearer for students.” Isn’t that what every teacher hopes to do?
Reshawndra Hutchins-Trapp is a 7th grade Life Science and Gifted Lead Teacher at Elite Scholars Academy in Clayton County, Georgia. She has received the ExploreLearning Leadership Award for the past five years due to her outstanding work with Gizmos in the classroom. She uses Gizmos to connect her students with learning opportunities in and out of school.