Discovery Education SCIENCE TECHBOOK has been taken on throughout many school districts in many different parts of the country. The educators of Rapides Parish in Lousiana share their excitement.
8 Rapides Parish elementary schools replacing science textbooks with interactive ‘techbooks” by Karina Vailes (June 28, 2011)
School backpacks are going to get a little lighter for some elementary school pupils in Rapides Parish.
Eight Rapides Parish schools are replacing their science textbooks with “techbooks” — digital books created by Discovery Channel that offer interactive lessons, videos and hands-on projects, and are accessible to students anytime, anywhere online.
“Some of us are using our textbook money” to purchase access to the techbook, said Fred Moore, principal of Julius Patrick Elementary School, one of eight elementary schools planning to introduce the concept to science students beginning in August.
“We are excited about it.”
The other elementary schools are Acadian, Mabel Brasher, Horseshoe, D.F. Huddle, Martin Park, Pineville and Carter C. Raymond.
Carol Passmore, district supervisor of Rapides Foundation Grants and Magnet Programs, explained that the Discovery Education Science Techbook, as the book is called, represents a new trend in education that is transforming classrooms and getting students excited about learning.
In a traditional classroom, you may have a teacher lecturing based on a textbook. In the techbook classroom, you may have animals in a video delivering the information.
Teachers will be able to use video, encyclopedia articles, images, audio, sound effects, quizzes, games, science simulation exercises and other tools to engage their students.
Students will be able to access the techbook using a computer or simply via projection equipment such as Promethean boards.
No more heavy textbooks to carry, no more ragged pages, and no more outdated information.
“To me the biggest advantage is that the techbook is updated daily, and every time something new happens in science, Discovery updates the techbook. It’s not like a textbook that is outdated almost before is it in our hands because things change so rapidly,” Passmore said.
The techbook has been approved by the Louisiana Department of Education. It is based on a student’s grade-level expectations and will be less expensive than the regular textbook, Passmore said.
Each student license, which lasts for seven years, costs $38 compared to an average of $70 or $75 for the traditional textbook, Passmore said. Textbooks are also updated roughly every seven years.
The techbook initiative was also facilitated through a $40,000 grant from The Rapides Foundation, which will pay for Streaming Plus, a digital library service that will be available in all schools and is offered by Discovery Education.
Streaming Plus gives students access to a variety of information on various subjects, including physical science, chemistry, math, language arts, reading and social studies. The district also acquired a $14,000 license from Public Broadcasting Service.
Tera LaPrarie, a science teacher at Alexandria Middle Magnet School, said she has already introduced her students to the science module of Streaming Plus. Alexandria Middle Magnet was one of four schools piloting the science component.
“It’s bringing the world to the students” and is getting them involved in the learning process through hands-on projects, said LaPrarie, adding that she has seen dramatic academic gains among her students.
LaPrarie said Streaming Plus is converting her classroom into a 21st century model because it is exposing her students to modern technology.
“I had a student that was struggling and now is making A’s,” LaPrarie said.
Passmore said the initiative fits well with the national effort to boost students’ interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) sciences.
— Karina Vailes (June 28, 2011)
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Students are learning differently and school districts such as Rapides Parish in Louisiana, Center Grove in Indiana and Collier County in Florida are pioneering new avenues that focus on strategies and resources that work for improving student academic performance in science. As a science and technology educator, I am a true believer that this is the path true education must be on for improving education across all curricular areas, no matter the demographics or backgrounds our students come from or the barriers they face. Education is about life long learning and reflection for continuous growth and as educators we must lead our students along a path that will take them further in knowledge, innovation, and creativity. So “Hats Off” to Rapides Parish and all other educators who strive to increase access to resources and opportunities for all students.