My “where-have-you-been-all-my-life” relationship with Discovery Education began six years ago when I started teaching special education in a district who subscribed to Discovery Education Streaming services. An epiphany! A wonder tool! A magic wand! Well–OK, that might be a slight exaggeration of my feelings. However, it is safe to say that I was definitely excited about all the possibilities and potential this tool had for my students.
Content delivered in a video format opened up new doors to struggling readers and slower processors. Suddenly they could learn about high interest, grade-appropriate content right along with their peers. Repetition and the ability to check for understanding was easy–all I had to do was replay the video, or pause it if students needed clarification. And the engagement! The kids were motivated. They generalized the information, they applied it–Discovery Education truly became a kind of “adaptive technology” tool to advance their learning and make content accessible. I was a Discovery Education groupie by the end of year. A year after that, I became a DEN star and again–WOW!! As I began to more deeply explore the DEN and all the resources within it, I was hooked.
So, fast forward five years. New job, new role, new students. As a technology and 21st century learning instructional coach, my students are now my fellow teachers. My mission? To get them to fall in love with Discovery Education. Oh sure, they know all about the movie clips. They know about some of the cool free tools and resources. After doing some professional development around DE, they even know that DE offers audio, images, lesson plans, and accompanying resources and materials to many of the media offerings. “Brilliant,” they say. “Fabulous!” “Love it!” “Totally going to use this for my next lesson!”. I’ve hooked ’em. But now, I’m upping the ante.
Its not enough just to show a video clip, and move on with the lesson. We need to encourage students (and teachers) to use DE as a means to higher order thinking opportunities. We need to integrate these amazing resources into the 21st century learning practices that will prepare students to flourish in our ever-changing global society. We need to pair DE with other tools that compliment it and drive learning and thinking deeper.
Collaboration is one of the most important skills students need to master. Where does Discovery education come in?
While viewing a video, have students logged in to Today’s Meet. They can have a back-channel discussion about the content, ask questions, etc.
In pairs (or more) have students create a comic (or other representation) that represents the main idea of the chosen video clip. My favorite comic site right now is Make Beliefs Comix.
Pause a DE video, pose a question and invite students to do a “Think, Pair, Share” cooperative learning structure.
The possibilities are, of course, endless. If you have ideas to share, please leave a comment.