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Discovery Education offers a breadth and depth of digital media content that is immersive, engaging and brings the world into the classroom to give every student a chance to experience fascinating people, places, and events. All content is aligned to state standards, can be aligned to custom curriculum, and supports classroom instruction regardless of the technology platform.
One of our favorite days of the year, Read Across America Day, celebrates reading in all forms. Participate in all your classes by encouraging students to read something they enjoy and providing class time for silent sustained reading. Give students a taste of the work that goes into writing what they read, too, by inviting them to write a story of their own.
It’s been a couple of years, but the messages from FableVision and Discovery Education’s read aloud of the book Going Places from award-winning authors and illustrators Peter H. and Paul A. Reynolds are still fresh. Go behind the scenes as Peter H. Reynolds shares his creative process and answers student questions.
Read a Story
Allow students to enjoy reading without a goal or assessment in mind. Here are some suggestions of fun stories from Discovery Education for your students’ virtual bookshelf. Sometimes older students – and adults! – enjoy revisiting children’s books and/or reading books to a group of younger students, which would be a great way to celebrate Read Across America Day!
This enchanting tale tells the story of a stuffed rabbit sewn from velveteen who was given to a little boy as a Christmas present. With other fancy toys capturing the boy’s interest, the rabbit is carelessly treated. The Velveteen Rabbit discovers the possibility of becoming Real if he can only gain the love of children.
A delightful and adventurous tale of what the world was like in the beginning by Rudyard Kipling. A spirited story about how the elephant got its trunk.
Write a Story
Engage your students in writing stories to give to each other to read as they celebrate Read Across America Day. Use these images of readers and the strategy They Said What?!?, from the SOS series, as story starters for students who need an idea. Have students trade possibilities for words in the speech bubbles to get their imaginations going and share ideas. Recommend that younger students work in teams and offer older students the challenge of writing an illustrating a children’s book.
Creative, research-based instructional strategies – presented by teachers, for teachers.
The Spotlight on Strategies series provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating Discovery Education digital media into your curriculum in meaningful, effective, and practical ways. The SOS series includes more than 150 different strategies you can use to engage students in active learning with digital media. Leave a comment and let us know how you’ll use this strategy in your class.
When students know how to ask their own questions, they take greater ownership of their learning, deepen comprehension, and make new connections. QFT (Question Formulation Technique ) is a teaching strategy that helps students produce their own questions, improve them, and strategize on how to use them. The technique can be used with students of all ages.
QFT can be used in a variety of settings and in a variety of different ways. Use it to introduce your students to a new unit of study, assess their understanding, or collect summative information at the culmination of a course of study. Students could also use QFT to develop science experiments, conduct research, or develop background knowledge to complete an assignment.
Materials: Discovery Education media asset, paper, and pencil
Design a Question Focus: This is typically a prompt that can be presented in the form of a statement, visual, or situation to “focus” and attract student attention and stimulate the formation of questions.
Rules for Formulating Questions: Explain the rules for formulating questions to students. Students must follow these rules as they produce their own questions. Rules include:
Ask as many questions as you can
Do not stop to discuss, judge, or answer any of the questions
Write down every question exactly as it was stated
Change any statements into questions
Produce Questions: Share the Question Focus and give students a few minutes to formulate as many questions as they can. Remind students to ask all kinds of questions about the topic, phrase, image, situation, etc. presented. This part of the process allows students to think freely without having to worry about the quality of the questions they are asking.
Categorize the Questions: Ask students to review their questions and then sort them into two types: open and closed. This can be done as an independent task, small group, or whole group.
Improve the Questions: Have students work together to change closed-ended questions into open-
ended questions. This process will help students think about how the phrasing of a question can affect the depth, quality, and value of the information they will obtain.
Prioritize the Questions: Have students prioritize their questions according to a teacher-supplied criteria, such as, “Choose the three questions you most want to explore further” or “Choose three testable questions” when working with a science experiment.
Next Steps: Discuss and negotiate on what should happen next with the questions. Options include but are not limited to Socratic Seminar, independent or group research, or debate.
Investigate the Questions: Encourage students to use Discovery Education digital media to gather information to help answer their questions and prepare for their discussions, debates, or presentations. Provide time for these
culminating activities where students share what they’ve learned with their peers.
Reflection: Finish by encouraging your students to reflect on what they have learned. It is important to review the steps and provide students the opportunity to review what they have learned by producing, improving, and
prioritizing their questions.
The Question Formulation Technique encourages a change in traditional classroom practice because it moves the creation of questions to the students, with the teacher acting as a facilitator. Using QFT frequently in your classroom will increase participation in groups and can help with classroom management because learning focuses on student creation as students are encouraged to take charge of their own learning process.
Implement QFT as a cyclical process that guides student learning in your classroom. As students arrive at answers, do not let the process end there. Instead, have students return to the beginning of the process by generating deeper questions and engaging in the research cycle once again.
As a fan of the world and ways of Harry Potter, I am often reminded of one pithy but important observation by the sage of Hogwarts, Professor Albertus Dumbledore: “Curiosity is not a sin.”
In our current globalized, post-industrial, knowledge economy I often observe that the very real risk of disruption is, unfortunately, fostering an overly utilitarian, realistic, and prescribed approach to career planning. What is most ironic about this situation is the predictions of the recent FutureWork report from the US Department of Labor. Simply, 65% of today’s primary students will have careers that do not currently exist, yet we continue to often require that those very students pick an existing career.
How do we prepare today’s students for a tomorrow that is yet amorphous and ill-defined? I defer to the classic tome of career planning philosophy—Alice in Wonderland.
In this childhood fantasy, Alice arrives at a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire cat, “Which road should I take?” The cat replies, “Where are you going?” To which Alice responds, “I don’t know”. The Cheshire cat answers, “Then it doesn’t matter which road you take.” While the obvious lesson certainly relates to the sheer ludicrous prospect of procuring directions from felines, the essence of this dialogue is that direction, not distance determines destiny. Simply put, we need to help primary age students figure out their direction, rather than simply requiring them to select some destination point in the distance.
I think Ayah Bdeir, the founder of littleBits, was exactly right when she noted, “What we want to do is help ignite kids’ passions, unleash their inner inventor, build up their own confidence so that they can be the ones to invent the world they want to live in”.
Instead of channeling or reforming the curiosity of our primary age learners, let’s amplify that curiosity. If they want to build wings for their cat so that it can fly—awesome, let’s help them figure it out. Empowering them with a design thinking process that allows them to create their own solution and their own career will produce more than interesting refrigerator art—it will equip them with a sense of direction that will give shape and meaning to their own passions.
At Envision, we have found that helping students discover their passion through the amplification of their curiosity enables those very students to find a sense of purpose that gives them direction within the ever-changing list of career potentials. Not to mention, this approach to teaching and learning is a heck of a lot of fun.
From future superheroes to princesses, from Jedi masters to fireman, our students come pre-loaded with curiosity and a sense of adventure that would challenge even the imaginations of Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, JR Tolkien, and George Lucas.
As educators and parents, let’s leverage this, even if the muggle wants to be a wizard…
For more classroom resources to support early career conversations, DOWNLOAD these tools:
Then, if your students enjoy this activity, consider nominating them for an Envision program. To learn more about these experiences, WATCH a short student testimonial video and then visit DiscoverEnvision.com.
Andrew H. Potter is the Chief Academic Officer at Envision, one of the nation’s leading college and career readiness organizations. In this role, he directs the organization’s academic strategy and oversees the development of faculty, curriculum, methods, and pedagogy that annually enable 25,000 students to find their passion, try out a career, and build a pathway to get there. Learn more at Envision Experience.
Did you know that one in three teens is abused physically, sexually, emotionally or verbally by a dating partner? As an educator, you are likely already in contact with students who are being abused by their partner or who know someone who is, whether they have revealed the abuse to you or not.
Often educators feel unequipped to recognize the warning signs of abuse and provide support and resources to students facing dating violence.
Warning Signs Your Student May Be Experiencing Dating Violence
Teens who are being abused rarely disclose their abuse to an adult. Because of this, it can take an observant social worker or teacher to see the signs of abuse at school and in the classroom. While some signs may seem obvious, others are less easily identifiable.
Three warning signs of teen dating abuse identifiable in the classroom
1. Your student’s physical appearance changes:
Your student begins to have unexplained or sudden illnesses
They begin to wear more makeup or stop wearing makeup all together
They start wearing baggier clothes
They seem passive or withdrawn
You notice frequent bruising
They begin self-harming behaviors such as cutting, hair pulling, etc.
2. Your student’s dating relationship lacks balance:
Your student excessively checks in/texts and/or sends photos to their partner to prove where they are, or may seemed stressed about doing so
They make excuses for their partner’s behavior
You observe extreme jealousy between your student and their partner
3. Your student’s behavior with peers and in the classroom changes:
You observe a loss of friendships and general isolation of your student
They are often late or do not attend class
They seem worried that their dating partner may show up or know where they are because they attend class
They seem unable to concentrate, are passive, compliant or withdrawn
They have newly failing grades
What can you do if you believe one of your students is being abused by their partner?
Focus on being a safe and stable presence in your student’s day. While they may never disclose to you that they are being abused, you may be helping them more than you know by just allowing them the space to breathe and rest.
Let your school’s social worker, psychologist, or counselor know about your suspicions privately and in a respectful and fact-based manner. These professionals are trained in issues of teen dating abuse and will be able to follow up with your student.
Teach your students how to Take a Stand FOR Healthy Relationships and incorporate teen dating violence awareness resources from NCADV into your classroom. Find out more about the resources available to teens experiencing abuse, have those resources available to all students and encourage your administration to explore the resources.
Want to learn more?
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), in collaboration with Discovery Education, has recently created a curriculum aimed at equipping teachers and students with the tools, resources, and knowledge they need to Take a Stand FOR Healthy Relationships.
Take A Stand FOR Healthy Relationships empowers young people by providing middle and high school classrooms with educational resources and immersive program tools, including self-paced modules and interactive lesson plans, to encourage young learners to exercise skills in communication and self-awareness as they develop friendships and relationships of their own. Get started today and explore our curriculum at teens4healthyrelationships.com.
DEN Summer Institutes are now open! Log in to Discovery Education and select Discovery Educator Network (DEN) from the left-side tool bar. Look for the Participate tab at the top of the page and select Summer Institutes. Find everything you need to know about the summer’s events, along with the application.
There are professional learning webinars happening throughout the month to provide you with integration ideas, updates on our services and ways to use Discovery Education resources with your students. Check out #DENCHAT on Thursday evenings, as well.
Whether you are new to Discovery Education or looking for new ways to maximize your experience, allow the Discovery Education team guide you through how to receive the latest updates on your MyDE page, maximize your search to access multimodal resources, increase engagement by launching the student experience, explore digital integration strategies available through the Professional Learning Center, and connect with other Discovery Educators through your DEN Online Community.
Are you looking for new and creative ways to integrate digital media into your curriculum? Join DEN Community members to explore the top ten instructional strategies from our Spotlight on Strategies (SOS) series. SOS are creative, research-based instructional strategies, presented by teachers for teachers. These simple instructional strategies incorporate digital media in meaningful, effective and practical ways.
Whether you are new to Discovery Education or looking for new ways to maximize your experience, allow the Discovery Education team to guide you through how to receive the latest updates on your MyDE page, maximize your search to access multimodal resources, increase engagement by launching the student experience, explore digital integration strategies available through the Professional Learning Center, and connect with other Discovery Educators through your DEN Online Community.
The best part about the SOS is that they are flexible and can be used across grade levels and content areas. We are excited to share SOS Story: an SOS series that spotlights teachers showing how they put the SOS to work in their classrooms.
I first discovered SOS Sticky Back (CDN Version) by browsing through the Discovery Education Professional Learning Center Strategies and Resources, which is home to the entire Spotlight on Strategies series. I chose this one specifically because it worked well with the learning goal I had for my students, which was finding key details in a text. My second graders are familiar with taking notes on Post-its, so SOS Sticky Back seemed to be a great tool to try out. I also felt that it would be a fun way for my students to process the information they were learning because it has a competitive spin to it.
Using the Strategy
First, I had my students read a short article from their language arts books about opossums. They read the article as a whole group, pausing every so often to check for understanding. As they read, I asked students to think of one unique fact that they found interesting and encouraged them to select one that they didn’t think a friend would also choose. I mentioned that facts that were related to the topic (opossums) would receive one point, but if their fact was original (meaning that no one else mentioned it) they would receive a whopping five points. This is where their competitiveness kicked in: the challenge was on!
After reading the article, students wrote their names and facts on the back (sticky side) of their Post-its. Then, they turned them in by sticking them to the easel in our classroom. I read each Post-it aloud and organized them into two categories: original facts and duplicate facts. After all the stickies were sorted I tallied up the points. If you play several rounds of Sticky Back you can tally up the points and the students with the most points win! Because this was the first time my class used this strategy, we only did one round and didn’t designate a winner. Even so, all of my students were excited about collecting the points and want to play Sticky Back again.
SOS Sticky Back helped engage my students in the learning activities. They successfully cited evidence in the text, and because we reviewed each Post-it they retained and could retell the key details from the text as we continued investigating more about opossums throughout the week.
I allowed some of my students to draw pictures or diagrams to explain their facts, rather than requiring written text responses only. When it was time to read their Post-it aloud, these students were able to vocalize to the class what fact they chose from the article.
I also modified the point system to reflect how I manage my classroom. The original SOS states that the winner is the student who has the most points. However, in my classroom, I ask students to participate in a lot of partner and group work, so I felt that tallying up the points by table groups was a more appropriate way to measure participation in the strategy.
Ideas For Sharing
Last school year I challenged myself to use a variety of SOS each month, so this school year I thought it would be neat to bring that same challenge to my colleagues. Each month I challenge my colleagues to utilize one or two different SOS with their students, and so far it has been going very well. I select an SOS and print the PDF for each teacher. I distribute the strategies and talk about how to use them at staff meetings. At the end of each month I love hearing all the ways that these strategies have helped their teaching and their students learning. It has brought me such joy being able to guide and support my colleagues with Discovery Education and the Spotlight on Strategies!
Visit Mrs Harach’s grade 7 class in Spruce Grove, Alberta Canada. This month, they allowed our Discovery Education Community to join them in using an SOS in their Math class
The Big Idea
Mrs Harach uses Discovery Education’s SOS to facilitate student learning in Structures Mathematics. Students have utilized the strategy, “Three Truths and a Lie” in other context and today they are using it to explore misconceptions in Math, specifically around fractions.
Learn more by stepping into a 360-degree view of Mrs Harach’s classroom. Here are tips to maximize the experience:
After launching the 360-degree image, spin your view to find the pin that showing the “i” icon. Play the embedded video to meet Mrs Harach as she explains the lesson.
Click on any pin. While they are numbered, it is not critical to follow them in order. Each pin represents various elements and aspects of the lesson as well as student work.
Interested in creating a similar experience in your class? Check out the strategy and resources used by Mrs Harach. You can also explore additional resources and lesson plans by utilizing the updated “Search by Topic” feature within your Discovery Education resources.
All over China and the world, it’s time to celebrate the Lunar New Year. With many similarities to other New Year’s celebrations, such as fireworks, friends and family, and food, Chinese New Year celebrations focus on culture and history. Help your students understand the Chinese culture by studying this holiday and participating in some of the celebrations.
Celebrate the start of the lunar new year with a look at Chinese history and cultural symbols.
Be There via Video
One of the many benefits of video is that it can put you in another place through sight and sound. These videos take students into Chinese celebrations, where they get to know specific people and witness their holiday traditions. During the videos, use the strategy Connect the Dots to help students make text-to-self connections and strengthen comprehension.
A Chinese family in a city celebrates Chinese New Year. Everyone helps prepare the feast, and there are fireworks and gifts for the children.
Chinese New Year Discovery Education Streaming, Social Studies Techbook
Grades 6-8, 9-12, Video Segment
Sheds light on the biggest festival of China’s calendar, Chinese New Year. The segment highlights Hong Kong’s explosive and elaborate fireworks display.
Celebrate with Color
Take a stress break by allowing students to color our clip art dragon, either independently or on an enlarged image on butcher paper hung on the wall. Have them use the video segments and other resources from Discovery Education to inspire their color choices.
Chinese Dragon Discovery Education Streaming
Grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, Clip Art
Interested in joining classrooms around the world to Celebrate holidays year round? Check out our Timely Content Page for our Virtual Viewing Parties and more Instructional Strategies.
From guest author Shana White. DEN Community Member, Lower School Physical Education Teacher, and Coach at Wesleyan School, Peachtree Corners, GA
February marks the beginning of Black History Month in the United States, when students commonly learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and other influential African Americans. Much of the history we study is familiar: they are the stories we’ve all been studying – and with good reason – for most of our lives. This year, I challenge you to go beyond the most mainstream narratives to grapple with some more nuanced stories of struggle and triumph. Whatever narratives you choose, though, I urge you to approach and present them with sensitivity, because the history can be painful and the stories are intense and must be taught with care. Students should never be placed in positions that may be dehumanizing, such as in simulations or debates.
If we wish to develop critical thinkers and digitally literate students, we must move past the commonly tempered historical context of the civil rights movement, slavery in America, and Black History as a whole. Educators should be encouraged to teach about lesser known Black Americans, those who were the first in their field, or whose visionary and innovative ideas and practices impacted so many. We must strive to share truth, as appropriate per age group, of the breadth and depth of Black stories and viewpoints. We must dig deeper into and regularly include the rich, impressive, and powerful history of Black Americans not only in February, but throughout the year, if we are to be responsible, culturally competent educators. By actively choosing to include Black figures in our regular lessons as well as diversifying the text and media we use, we provide students a new and improved perspective of the Black race and its rich history and culture.
Here are some lesson ideas to make Black History lessons and topics more meaningful, authentic, and culturally relevant.
Have students research the Black Lives Matter Movement and compare and contrast it to the Black Panther Party during the Jim Crow era. Who were the major leaders of these movements? What were their stances on major issues of the time? Students can hold a Socratic seminar about the leadership, ideas, and effectiveness of the two groups.
Introduce the story of Ruby Bridges and the Little Rock Nine and allow students to research these individuals. Have students examine various data from text about desegregation efforts of the past and the segregation that still exists in American schools. Have students examine the images from these students’ first few days in newly integrated schools. Using the SOS strategy Circle of Viewpoints, have students select a viewpoint and write a letter to a friend about the first day of school integration. (Possible viewpoints: a white student, a Black student, parent of a Black student, parent of a white student, school teacher/administrator.)
Provide students a collection of images from the civil rights movement of the 60s and 70s and current day protests and marches. Using the SOS strategy Multiple Perspectives, have students pick several people out of each image to write about. [What emotions might these people be feeling? What might their body language convey? What are they marching about/protesting? How might you (the student) be able to relate to the emotions you imagine these people are having?] Have students reflect in written and video form.
Provide students with information and videos about the Underground Railroad. Using Google Maps and other resources, have students create a potential route on the Underground Railroad from the South to the North. Have students calculate the distance traveled, determine potential stopping points, normal gait characteristics (for adult males and females), and estimate the amount of time it may have taken. Have students investigate the terrain of their potential route as well as seasonal and weather variables that could impact travel. This lesson is a non-dehumanizing way to teach the significance of the Underground Railroad and its role in liberating enslaved people and an opportunity to implement STEM concepts.
Have students research the following terms: racism, bias, bigotry, privilege. How are these terms related to each other? How are they different? Examine the writings/text of speeches by Dr. King, Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde and other civil rights leaders. How did these civil rights leaders define the terms above? What are examples of systems/laws they believed to be racist against Black Americans? How have the systems changed – or not changed – today?
Have students research famous Black musicians, dancers, and hip hop artists. [What are some of their accomplishments? What artists had conflicts and/or collaborated with each other? Whose music/dancing from current day was influenced by them? Who are some of the non-black artists (e.g., Elvis Presley) whose music/dance style was influenced by Black musicians/dancers?] Then, have students create their own music, dance, or song lyrics using styles and techniques similar to the Black musician, dancer, or hip hop artist they researched.
Here are other great resources for incorporating Black Americans and Black History into your curriculum throughout the year.
Shana is a veteran educator of twelve years serving in both public and private school during her career. Shana is a passionate educator who believes in purposeful disruption of status quo, is passionate about safe and inclusive schools for all students, and works as an advocate for marginalized groups in education.
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