Discovery Education in Action: Danielle Williams, part 2

Welcome to our Discovery Education in Action series of webinars, blog posts, and livestreams as we drop-in on Discovery Education classrooms to what they look and sound like.  Last month we had the opportunity to visit Danielle Williams’s class in Wilmington, NC.  Here’s the second of three posts sharing her expertise.

Go here for the first post.



B.S. Geology- Radford University, M.A. Teaching Secondary Science Ed. – UNCW


Danielle Williams


Teacher – E.A. Laney High School

Subjects/Grades Taught:

9th Grade Earth/Environmental Science


What tips do you have for beginning users?

1) For beginning users, my first tip would be to always start with the end in mind.  In other words, when you start planning a TB lesson or activity, decide what concept or content you will teach, determine what question or questions the students should be able to answer, and then work your way backwards from there. Once you’ve established the major concept or content, it will be easier to start sorting and choosing the readings, videos, animations, explorations, and the many other resources you will assign to your students. (When I was a beginner, I was a little overwhelmed with having so many resources to choose from, starting with the end mind helped tremendously)

2) Next, have patience and a backup plan because after all, it is technology and it is inevitable that you will run into a technological issue at some point. When that situation arises, tell yourself to, “breathe, this is not the end of the world.” Some educators may be inclined to never use TB again if one or two things go wrong, but I invite them to recall their first year of teaching and think about how many things probably went wrong. It will happen, and the best thing to do is just try again, try later, or ask someone for help when you run into technical difficulties.

Also, have a backup plan! If and when the internet shuts down in the middle of a lesson, you must be able to quickly find something for your immediately-antsy students to do. This is what has allowed me survive. Whether it’s a worksheet from your file cabinet, a reinforcement activity, or telling students to journal about what they’ve learned while you solve the problem, be sure to have a backup plan in the unfortunate event of a technical difficulty.

3) Next, keep in mind that you are not being replaced as a teacher. As the educator, you know your students, you know what they need more of or less of, and how they need to be taught. Even now, there are significant differences between students in my first block class and my 4th block classes which are both Earth/Environmental Science classes. Using TB, I can differentiate my lessons to make sure everyone is getting exactly what they need to be successful. So, with that being said, TB alone can’t tell that my first block may need more help than my fourth block or vice versa. So I am still very much needed to design, facilitate, and modify the learning environment.

4) Another tip is to get up close and personal with TB, or in other words explore everything. There are so many incredible resources available to you in TB that you will initially have to take some time to learn how to navigate it all. The outcome is worth the input! I sat down for a couple of hours at a time to explore the digital text, student boards, writing prompts, and interactive explorations. I also spent some quality time learning how to analyze student results from assessments. When you know what you’re working with, implementation becomes that much easier!

5) Transitioning to digital learning requires a little motivation. You will need to find and maintain that motivation. There are certainly times, when I could have used previously designed lessons that took hours to develop. However, when I think about student benefit and future success, I remember that digital learning provides students with the skills they will need to be successful 21st century citizens. Whether students are entering the workforce, or higher education, they will need these technology skills. They will have many classes or job trainings that require learning that is similar to TB. My goal is for students to leave high school confidently embracing the world of technology they are destined to encounter and that goal is my motivation to revamp those perfectly fine lessons that I’ve already created.


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