From interactive digital textbooks to learning communities, we are transforming classrooms, empowering teachers and captivating students by leading the way in providing high quality, dynamic, digital content to school districts large and small, rural and suburban and everything in between.
Connecting students with the real-world sounds incredibly easy, after all, we live in the real world. Our students encounter and navigate real-world opportunities and challenges on a daily basis, and we want to make sure they are best equipped to do so. Every action is a data point. And, whether completely conscious of it or not, students analyze data to make decisions daily. We want to help them understand the many ways data will continue to appear as they advance their education and ultimately select a field and career. As educators, we want to provide strategies to support students as they tackle these problems and inspire them to understand the power of data for their futures. That’s why we are excited to announce the Discover Data program from The Nielsen Foundation, built in collaboration with Discovery Education and The Afterschool Alliance.
The resources available through Discover Data were developed to increase awareness around the power of data and data science; inspire students to pursue data-driven careers, and connect youth with role models through Nielsen volunteers. Simply go to www.DiscoverDatainSchool.org to access resources for your classroom and afterschool program.
Below you will find the resources available at www.DiscoverDatainSchool.org. As the program grows in future years, so will its resources. As we pilot this program in its inaugural year, we will ask teachers to help us shape future resources by providing their feedback.
Classroom Activities: Discover Data’s activities were designed to inspire students to think critically about the data that surrounds them. These resources were created to support educators and volunteers as they demonstrate how data can be used to answer authentic questions and solve real-world problems. Below are some questions students will investigate:
Does an athlete need to win games or have the highest scores to be an effective spokesperson for a brand or product?
Is it better to bring a high-price “premium” product into a category with lots of similar goods or fewer similar goods?
How will the media consumption habits of millennials change by the year 2050?
Career Profiles: These profiles showcase the responsibilities and diverse opportunities available when pursuing a data-driven career.
Another exciting component of the Discover Data program is that it works to engage the diverse, active and innovative community of Nielsen volunteers who can talk about data science and help to deliver a Discover Data activity with classrooms and afterschool programs in their local communities.
Schools will be able to request a visit from a real-world data expert who will discuss their career and take students through an activity from www.DiscoverDatainSchool.org. Schools and afterschool programs are also invited to access the resources on their own anytime at no cost.
The ability to understand what is read or heard is directly linked to a student’s command of vocabulary. Understanding the relationships between words and content helps students negotiate within and across texts, leading to deeper comprehension.
Instructional strategies and Discovery Education digital media help students visualize, make connections, and explore definitions in interactive ways to build vocabulary.
We hope you’ll try one or more of these strategies and share your experience with us in the comments or the DEN Online Community.
Vocab Scavenger Hunt (CDN Version) incorporates movement to help students demonstrate their understanding of new vocabulary. As they watch or listen to the media, student clap when they hear one of the selected vocabulary words and then share the definition.
Vocabulary Stepping Stone (CDN Version) reinforces vocabulary acquisition by first focusing students on teacher-selected vocabulary words from a media selection and then having them watch/listen for and arrange the words in the order they occur in that media.
Scrambled Please (CDN Version) asks students to use their understanding of a topic to arrange pieces of a text in logical order. The teacher scrambles words, sentences, or even paragraphs before giving it to students to unscramble. Adapt this strategy for vocabulary instruction by scrambling words and definitions.
Connect The Dots (CDN Version) emphasizes the importance of making text-to-self connections. Students map out, label, and and link dots between themselves and content they are learning from digital media. Adapt this strategy for vocabulary instruction by having students make links between vocabulary words and the overall topic.
Instagram-in (CDN Version) asks students to represent what they’ve learned with images, short comments, and hashtags put together in the style of an Instagram post. Adapt this strategy for vocabulary instruction by asking students to build an Instagram post that explains a specific word.
Vocabulary Quadrants (CDN Version) provides an organizational tool called a Frayer Map to help students define and explore a concept. This multi-faceted process of examining a vocabulary term results in a deeper understanding of not just the word, but its relationship to a broader body of knowledge.
Collage (CDN Version) uses media to provide context for new learning. Students explore a new concept through a collection of images and are challenged to make about how the images related to each other. Adapt this for vocabulary instruction by creating vocabulary-specific collages.
Reminds Me Of (CDN Version) asks students to indicate when they make a connection to a piece of media by making a movement — such as putting their hands on their head — and then explaining the connection. Adapt this for vocabulary instruction by asking students to make connections to specific content-related vocabulary words.
Concept Circles (CDN Version) uses a graphic organizer to help students analyze the relationships between vocabulary words and the content they are studying.
LOL (CDN Version) asks students use their understanding of a topic, their sense of humor, and a digital image to illustrate content as a meme. Adapt this strategy for vocabulary instruction by asking students to illustrate their understanding of a vocabulary word as a meme.
By Kristen Davis, 1st Grade Educator from Jay Elementary School, Santa Rosa County, Florida School District
Super Health, Super You Discovery Education Program Ambassador
As teachers trying to change the landscape of education to match the progress of technology, we understand how important it is to make sure students are fluent in technology and understand how to use it properly. But we also know that a lot of time is spent in front of screens that is not educational and can be detrimental to physical and social wellbeing. Determining a healthy balance between screen time and physical activity is an ongoing hot topic on all the trending networks, from “Pinteresting” mom blogs to scholarly articles. The newest Super Health, Super You activity Balancing Act was designed to help teachers share the knowledge of how to balance physical activities and screen time on a daily basis.
The Balancing Act lesson was created to give students the opportunity to consider what it actually means to be physically fit. They are given a log to write down the amount of time spent daily on screens of all kinds and physical activities for one week. They are then able to collect and analyze the data, draw conclusions about their findings, and determine ways to enhance decision making for healthier choices.
When using Balancing Act with my own students, we found that they seriously underestimated their screen time when we first began. We found that the boys and girls used screen time much differently, (boys on video games and girls watching tv), but that their ideas of good physical activities were the same. When the groups looked deeper into their logs, they found that the only students who were actually active for a full 60 minutes of physical activity each day, were those who were involved in organized sports.
For elementary students, this lesson was an eye opener. We were able to have real conversations about how the increased amount of screen time, while not necessarily a bad thing, could lead to a lower level of physical fitness, decreased performance in school, and could interfere with relationships with friends and family. These conversations at school turned into conversations at home between parents and students.
Have you used this activity in your classroom or at home with your kids? What conversations started with your students?
Solar or Wind? Decision-Making in Entrepreneurship
How much do your students know about the real-world applications of STEAM learning? Don’t miss the new activity from the Ford STEAM Lab, Powering A Business Plan, that challenges students to apply their STEAM skills to real-world situations like opening a business!
In Powering A Business Plan, students will explore how to create a business model that utilizes renewable energy to power a business. After deciding whether they’d like to open a lodge on the water, create a charging accessory for people on the go, or manage a food truck, students will evaluate the costs and benefits of using solar or wind power to run their proposed business. After choosing a renewable energy source, students are tasked with creating a business model that incorporates the green energy solution they’ve selected.
Business Model Background
Powering a Business Plan provides students critical background knowledge about what it means to be an entrepreneur and how to create a business plan. After introducing how to create a blueprint for a business, students will learn more about different types of energy as well as the advantages and disadvantages of renewable power sources.
The SWOT Model
After creating their business model, students will perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis on their peers’ business models and will ultimately modify their own business model based on the SWOT recommendations they receive. This model fosters critical thinking as well as problem-solving skills and is a great way to foster in-class collaboration among students.
Looking for more activities from the Ford STEAM Lab?
Check out Designed to Shine, which is another hands-on lesson that challenges students to use Design Thinking to create a prototype of a costume or prop for a person with disability in school play.
Ford STEAM Lab also provides a free suite of online resources to engage students in design thinking, coding, and tech entrepreneurship principles. This digital-blended learning approach takes students through a six-part “Hackacthon” style process, culminating in the creation of a mobile app prototype, business plan, and pitch-deck presentation. Sign up today to get started!
The surprising way a Virtual Field Trip ignited my students
LG and Discovery Education want to help you discover your happy. Through a series of guest blog posts, we’ll cover topics from the science behind happiness to how to make the most of the Discover Your Happy resources. This month, guest blogger Dacia Jones shares her experience bringing the Discover Your Happy Virtual Field Trip to one of her schools.
When first asked to share the Discover Your Happy Virtual Field Trip, I immediately smiled and thought, “this will be easy.” Just a fun thing to do. I had no idea that it would be so much more than that and what an impression it would make on my students.
I am a STEM Consultant so I am always looking for ways to bring science, technology, engineering, and math into the classroom. I began to dig into the content and found it fascinating. It was totally connected to what I do every day. The “science” of happiness. Who knew? After looking through each content piece, I began to plot my strategy for getting the entire high school involved.
Working with several of the teachers, we plastered the school with “Who Wants to Be Happy?” and “What Makes You Happy?” signs. We added large bulletin board paper to most of the hallways so that students could graffiti write on them. The responses that we began to get were shocking. They made many of the teachers become emotional. Responses included:
I want to be happy but I don’t know how.
Happy is not a word that describes me.
My dad was just deported- there is no happiness in my home.
I’m way past the happy stage.
There were some positive comments but most of them were disparaging. This virtual field trip had to happen and we needed to be strategic about it. This high school has about 450 students and our goal was for each student to be part of this. We continued filling the hallways and classrooms with signs and teasers. We asked staff to respond to students on the graffiti wall and write notes to every student to put on their lockers. We had no idea how timely this event would be.
On the day of the event we invited all students to watch and provided party hats, signs, door prizes, buttons, stickers, and noise makers. We crossed our fingers and hoped that each student would take something positive away from the virtual field trip. They laughed and they listened. They participated by making their own signs and posing for selfies and group photos after the event. Each class debriefed the next day and for many, it made a difference. It ignited something inside of them.
I asked the teachers to replace the graffiti signs a month later and see what happened. There were a few sad remarks but there were also many more positive responses. Student leaders also began to meet to talk about a “Happiness” Club for the fall. It only took a website and a virtual field trip to ignite action in this high school. When students are worried about where their next meal comes from and if their family will stay together, learning about ways to promote happiness is more important than ever.
The story hasn’t ended. It has really just begun. It takes a few people to start a movement. The student leaders are eagerly awaiting their first and second followers and are planning for a “Happiness Revival” this fall. So if you need to inspire your students and you want to really make something happen, I encourage you to check out Discover Your Happy and see how it can change your students, your staff, and your school.
Dacia Jones is a DE STEM Consultant from Durham, NC who works to teach staff and students how to implement creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking into every day instruction.
Coming up next month: How to Practice Mindfulness and the Six Sustainable Happiness Skills, by Laura Bakosh Co-Founder of Inner Explorer. Sign up for updates to be notified of the release of our next Discover Your Happy blog post.
When students are asked to determine the most important ideas in a text or video segment, they must think deeply about the material. As they eliminate extraneous information, they think about context and consider the big ideas, leading to better understanding and recall of what they have read and seen.
These instructional strategies provide opportunities for students to use Discovery Education digital media resources to develop summarization skills.
We hope you’ll try one or more strategy and share your experience with us in the comments or the DEN Online Community.
Journals (CDN Version) encourage students to represent content they’ve learned from media in journal entries that include drawings and short writing entries.
PechaKucha (CDN Version) is a timed presentation format that incorporates the use of words and images to summarize ideas.
Switcheroo (CDN Version) involves students in creating cards containing big ideas and vocabulary from a media selection and then meet with other students to collaboratively review the material and exchange cards.
Four to One (CDN Version) requires students to closely observe four separate images and write a sentence about each one. Next, they combine those images, looking for similarities and connections in order to write one sentence that incorporates all four images.
PMI (CDN Version) encourages students to synthesize what they know about a topic by looking at it from multiple perspectives. They use a three-column organizer to record plus, minus, and interesting facts or new ideas before discussing them with a partner.
Sticky Back (CDN Version) encourages students to listen and watch closely in order to remember unique facts and details that help to summarize what they’ve learned. Students use the back side (sticky side) of a sticky note to record ideas, submitting them to a common location where they are reviewed by the class for accuracy and originality.
Songwriting 101 (CDN Version) involves students in using familiar tunes as musical templates into which they plug lyrics that demonstrate knowledge in the unit of study.
Z Chart (CDN Version) helps students summarize information through the use of linguistic and nonlinguistic representations. Students use a graphic organizer in the form of a giant Z to organize important points, wrapping it up with a short summary of what they’ve learned.
321 Pyramid (CDN Version) provides a structured opportunity for students to synthesize information they’ve learned from digital media. They use a triangle graphic organizer to record facts, points of importance, and a summary of the content.
School is out and sunshine is in – which means that kids are itching for some fun summer activities! Parents take on a whole new job when summer comes around, and finding things to keep the kids busy can sometimes become, well… a bit of a challenge.
Discovery Education and CME Group have partnered to create Econ Essentials, a program designed to help high school students learn about economic principles as part of its Futures Fundamentals program. These free interactive resources, aligned with high school economics standards, are designed for students in grades 9 through 12.
Just because school isn’t in session doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. Here are some tips designed to help parents keep students engaged throughout the summer with Econ Essentials. Educators – here is your chance to shine! Be a hero for all those parents looking to find summer fun with their kids to do. They will thank you!
Without further ado, here are some tips to give your students’ parents:
Teach teens how to navigate expenses for after graduation.
With Econ Essentials’ “Foundations of Finance” module, students will learn about interest rates and their impact on personal finances. In this simulation, students must navigate the tricky financial decisions that arise after graduating from high school, from student loans to buying a car. Parents and students will watch fortunes grow—or shrink—based on the choices students make!
Discover why the U.S. needs a new generation of farmers.
Parents can become interested in learning about career paths with their students, and those students might consider a career in farming! The future of the US food supply will soon be in the hands of millennials. Parents and students can follow a recent grad as she hones her interest in agriculture and creates a farm of the future. Students can be inspired to do the same!
Find out how to use “Futures Fundamentals” – the program that brought us Econ Essentials.
Parents and students will explore concepts like futures, hedging, and speculating and discover how each play an essential role in the world around us. Parents and students can learn why futures matter and the impact of fuel futures, discover an introduction to derivatives, and even play a game called “Risk Ranch!”
Explore how algae could change the fossil fuel industry.
Journey to Hawaii through this engaging video and find out what algae really has to offer. Parents and students will visit an algae pond where scientists study and refine ways algae can fuel our future. Who knew how much impact some funny green stuff could have on the environment?
Bond over the facts about food.
Ever wonder why a sandwich costs what it does? This digital learning module takes parents and students on a journey from farm to wallet and investigates what causes the prices of certain foods to increase and decrease. Parents might want to keep a snack on hand for this one – everyone might get hungry!
These are just a few of the “essentials” that this program has to offer. There are plenty of other pieces to dive into for the summer, so skip the sunscreen and beat the heat while parents and students prepare for their financial future with Econ Essentials.
Identifying similarities and differences through comparison is a hallmark of deep understanding. The ability to compare and contrast requires not only the taking in of information, but making sense of it and organizing it into categories that show relationships.
Compare and contrast is a skill that can be developed at any grade level and used in any subject area: it is seen in literary devices like simile and metaphor, is a strategy employed as students investigate geometric shapes, and it helps inform us about themes found in human conflicts through the ages.
The instructional strategies below provide opportunities for students to use Discovery Education media resources to practice comparing and contrasting.
We hope you’ll try one or more of these strategies and share your experience with us, either in the comments or in the DEN Online Community!
Figure It Out Together (CDN Version) asks students to use video and images to practice their ability to make and express figurative comparisons. With a focus on using literary devices such as metaphor, simile, hyperbole, etc., students select an image to connect to the video to express the literary device.
Would You Rather (CDN Version) prompts students with the question “Would you rather…?” and then asks them to choose one of two options and justify their choices with evidence. The process of selecting requires a careful comparison of the two. This could be the first step in setting up an opportunity for debate based on the justifications students provide.
Picture It! (CDN Version) asks students to analyze and classify images related to the unit of study. They compare and contrast what they see in the images before performing additional research to validate or learn more about the content.
4 Cs (CDN Version) is used to help students develop synthesizing and organizational skills by guiding students to make connections, ask questions, identify key concepts, and contemplate changes/consider the application of what they’ve learned.
Who Are You? (CDN Version) gives students an opportunity to express how they are feeling by looking at pairs of contrasting images and selecting the one that best represents their perspective and feelings.
Take a Walk (CDN Version) helps students process new information from a piece of digital media and share their reactions to it by walking while they talk about it. This strategy could easily be focused on comparison & contrast by asking students to specifically discuss the similarities and differences they noticed in a piece of media.
Eye Spy (CDN Version) helps students develop visual literacy skills by giving them structured opportunities to revisit an image multiple times, each time carefully analyzing it to notice details and nuances. This scaffolded image analysis could be followed by partner or group comparison of what each person saw which would deepen the comprehension and sharpen students’ focus on lesser-noticed details in the images.
PMI (CDN Version) helps students categorize their reactions to a piece of media to make decisions about important elements it contains. Student to student comparison of PMI responses could enhance the outcome by encouraging students to recognize multiple sides to an issue.
Get VENN-y With It (CDN Version) uses the classic compare/contrast tool, a Venn diagram. Students use this graphic organizer to identify similarities and differences in digital media.
Now Screening (CDN Version) encourages students to make connections at the beginning of a unit of study by focusing them on images that relate to the topic. Opportunities for comparison and contrast could easily be built into this immersive experience with the content.
Take a look at any kindergarten or grade one classroom. There are areas for whole class assembly, quiet reading corners, tables for small groups of students to use for collaborative activities, and carrels for students who need a place to think, write, or record.
I believe all classrooms should have these same components. Besides the research that this type of flexible environment can help promote creativity, many of the office environments of major corporations are also utilizing these varied types of spaces, and our students need to get used to working in them!
If you need research to support your ideas for a flexible classroom, Melina Uncapher offers insight into the impact noise, light, classroom arrangement, temperature, and other environmental factors have on student learning and cognition. I found it interesting that changing the lighting in your classroom to blue-light can help students at school but can hinder sleep at home before bed. We often change high school schedules so the students can get more sleep, but perhaps limiting the activities that involve blue-light late in the day, like computer use and texting, could help, too.
Carmen Richardson, an ITS at the Kamehameha Schools in Hawaii, and Punya Mishra, a dean of the Teacher’s College at Arizona State, developed an instrument for identifying if a classroom environment is conducive to creativity. ISTE’s Empowered Learner publication outlined the components.
First, a physical environment is necessary that offers flexible work areas for students and a multitude of resources, like this 2nd grade classroom of Alisha Knapp, a teacher in Dunlap CUSD 323 in Peoria County, IL.
Secondly, a classroom that is conducive to creativity is one that is messy and noisy, has students actively participating in discussions, allows for collaboration, and is one in which different points of view are valued.
The authors’ final component of a classroom conducive to creativity is having engaged students who:
Work at their own pace on open-ended, authentic tasks
Seek many viewpoints and use different modes of investigation
Take risks and reflect on their learning
Have the time to think creatively and develop their ideas
The USC Rossier School of Education created the infographic below to showcase research into many aspects of classroom design and atmosphere that can “set students up for success”.
Many years ago (circa 2004), in a presentation, I included a classroom set-up I created to showcase the type of classroom that I felt was needed to take advantage of the infusion of technology into the classroom. Everything was moveable and offered large group, small group, and collaborative spaces.
Since then, many creative teachers have published ideas online that deal with classroom set-up. Some are specifically designed for project-based learning, STEM, collaboration, and creating. However, with the right type of furniture and layout, a classroom can turn into a place where any and all effective types of teaching and learning can take place. Here is a great illustrated article from the Bored Teachers Blog with ideas for flexible classroom set-up!
Chris Johnson wrote an article for Edutopia in which he answered many of the questions teachers might have when considering a flexible space. The topics covered include:
How to handle state testing in a flexible classroom
How to implement it in a small classroom with many students
How to convince your school administration to do it
How to pay for the furniture
How to keep the furniture clean and free of “pests”
How to make sure you are adhering to local fire regulations
The ISTE Learning Spaces blog includes practical and useful posts to help you implement the move to a flexible and configurable classroom. Some recent posts include:
Some tips for designing a useful and functional makerspace are offered by Alex Baddock in this article. His ideas include:
Make sure to have both a clean and dirty space, but keep them separate.
Don’t forget to calculate the electrical load of all equipment planned for the space
Build in as much storage as possible
Try to purchase furniture that is mobile to be able to change the configuration of the room
Diana Rendina journals the process of the development of a makerspace in a school library over a multi-year time period, and created this video overview about the transformation.
The Stewart Library Makerspace - YouTube
The Sassy, Saavy, Simple Teaching blog showcases how another teacher implemented flexible seating in her classroom. There are plenty of ideas and photos. And this article from Smith System, which provides a more in-depth overview from this same teacher, includes additional information which may be helpful as you begin to think about creating a flexible classroom. For example, she includes a list of questions you should be prepared to answer from parents. These are:
What are the benefits of flexible seating?
How do you select the types of seating and the overall arrangement?
How do kids get to decide their spot?
How often will they rotate among choices?
How do you keep kids focused if they’re not sitting uniformly?
How will this arrangement work with testing?
Will you keep any traditional desks and chairs?
What happens if my child can’t handle the nontraditional set-up?
Have you implemented a custom configuration or flexible seating in your classroom? Let us know how you did it, the cool DIY items you included to save costs, and anything else you want to share!
Today’s students must be prepared to thrive in a constantly evolving technological landscape.
The ISTE Standards for Students are designed to empower student voice and ensure that learning is a student-driven process. Discovery Education supports ISTE Standards for Students by providing a variety of tools, resources, and learning experiences that prepare digital age learners to become future-ready, lifelong learners.
1. Empowered Learner
ISTE Student Standard: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving, and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
ISTE Student Standard: Students recognize the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of living, learning, and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical.
The Common Sense Media content found in Discovery Education allows students of all grade levels to learn about eight essential digital citizenship concepts: Internet Safety, Privacy and Security, Relationships and Communication, Cyberbullying and Digital Drama, Digital Footprints and Reputation, Self-Image and Identity, Information Literacy, and Creative Credit and Copyright.
3. Knowledge Constructor
ISTE Student Standard: Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts, and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.
Teachers provide opportunities for students to construct knowledge around digital resources by implementing Spotlight on Strategies, Discovery Education’s creative, research-based instructional strategies, presented by teachers for teachers. These simple instructional strategies incorporate digital media in meaningful, effective, and practical ways.
4. Innovative Designer
ISTE Student Standard: Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful, or imaginative solutions.
ISTE Student Standard: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats, and digital media appropriate to their goals.
ISTE Student Standard: Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally.
Discovery Education learning experiences like virtual viewing parties and virtual field trips take students beyond classroom walls and into some of the world’s most iconic locations while connecting them to experts. Before-, during-, and after-event guided activities provide students opportunities to deepen understanding and examine issues from different points of view.