In the last post, I discussed how the beginning of the school year is a good time to acquaint yourself with any technology resources offered by your school district, as many do not realize the benefits subscription-based services can provide.
While BrainPOP, described in the last post, is accessible by an affordable monthly subscription even if your school doesn't have it, ExploreLearning's Gizmos are more of a district investment. I would, however, encourage individuals to check it out via the free month trial, if only for exposure for how interactives connect with language. ExploreLearning (accessible also via a new iPad app once you obtain the trial login) provides interactive activities called "Gizmos" that show the sequential, cause-effect, and conditional relationships in science topics (e.g. tides, flower pollination, forces). The activities are open-ended and meant to be constructivist and inquiry-based, leading students to ask questions and draw conclusions, which is facilitated by printable "Student Exploration Guides" for each Gizmo. Again, I'd encourage you to check it out or take advantage of it if your school offers the service (my middle school did). If you save the guides, the language-based questions provide a good model for questions you can ask when using interactives such as the free ones available at BrainPOP GAME UP or learningscience.org, as well as for apps such as MarcoPolo Weather. Overall, this type of interactive provides a visual contextual support for you to target objectives around description, sequencing, and cause-effect, while providing students (particularly upper elementary, MS, and HS students) additional review of classroom topics.
ExploreLearning's Gizmo on Tides and its Exploration Guide prompts knowledge-activating questions, observation and cause-effect statements about the relationship between the moon and tides, and would be useful when students are studying topics such as Earth, Sun and Moon.