Discovery Education in Action: Danielle Williams, part 3

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 third and final posts sharing her expertise.

Go here for the other posts in the series.




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 other tools, resources, strategies, etc. do you incorporate with Science TB?

1)    I really like to incorporate group work strategies. For example, I will divide a major concept into mini-concepts. Once the students are in groups, each student is responsible for researching one mini-concept and creating a board. Once the boards are created, students can come back and use the board as a tool to teach their group members.

2)    I often let students listen to music while working independently. Students love to throw in earbuds and get to work and it’s actually to shocking to see the difference with earbuds versus sans earbuds. It is important to note the significance of maintaining a balance between the socially cutting-off nature of independent work and beneficial group work. My students certainly need a little of both and they were quick to express that to me, so I really focus on maintaining that balance.

3)   Sometimes, I have worksheets, webquests, or other assignments that I’d like to use. I can add an outside website and type questions, or scan the worksheet into TB and add it to a writing prompt. Students can then answer the questions in the TB writing prompt, I can keep track of their work and time submission, and then I don’t have to worry about deciphering handwriting, which sometimes looks like hieroglyphics.

Watch Danielle and her students working collaboratively on Board Builder.


How do you organize your classroom and planning to maximize your students’ learning experiences?

I use a weekly template to organize my lessons. Each day has a specific structure in which I can plug in assignments and activities. I typically follow the 5E structure (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) to plan my lessons. Having this structure makes planning and implementation that much easier.


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
5 min. Bellwork 5 min. Bellwork 5 min. Bellwork 5 min. Bellwork 5 min. Bellwork
20 min. content introduction 10 minute review 15 min Quiz 10 minute review 15 minute content introduction
60 min Independent Learning and Exploration (TB) 40 Mini -Lab 20 minute content introduction 70 minute lab 30 minute Group Work
30 minute Group Work 45 min Independent Learning (TB) 35 min Independent Learning (TB)
5 min exit work 5 min exit work 5 min exit work 5 min exit work 5 min exit work

When planning lessons, I reserve Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, as TB days. On these days I will stand up and introduce content for about 20 minutes and students will then work on TB for 45-60 minutes. I also include reinforcement activities which can either be individual or group work, depending on what I think the students need.  Next, I reserve Tuesdays for mini-labs and group work and Thursdays for larger labs that typically take the entire class.

Another major part of my planning and organization is assessment. I use TB to frequently quiz students in class and at home in order to measure student learning. There are times, when I think the students have mastered a concept, then I look at their quiz results and realize that there are gaps.  I use the assessment reports in TB to determine if I can move forward with my lesson plans, or if I need pause and recover.

Together, my planning and organization strategies allow me to really focus on student strengths and weaknesses. Once I started using TB, I found that I had more time to work on improving student engagement and consequentially, student success.


How do your students respond to the use of Science Techbook? What do they like about it?

My students love techbook! From this one central resource, they learn new content through active engagement, they use an endless variety of resources to master that content and lastly, they use immediate feedback from assessments to identify their strong and weak points of learning the content.

Each semester, I ask students to give me feedback on TB and the responses are consistently overwhelmingly positive. The most common feedback relates to increased interest as a result of increased engagement. Students like being able to do what I call, “read and click”, after reading a paragraph or two, students click on either a video, animation, or exploration to learn more about a concept. According to students, this reinforcement and depth of learning is what helps them learn the material and stay engaged as they learn.

Students also like the universal access; TB is accessible on anything with internet access, so the stress of having to keep up with a textbook and papers is reduced when everything can be done online. Another really important piece of feedback was that students don’t feel rushed when working on TB. I’ve heard some complain that I’m moving too fast for writing during lectures or they are aren’t able to listen to what I’m saying and write at the same time. Therefore if they are working at their own pace, learning is maximized and teaching is more effective.

Lastly, my students often comment on enjoying the independence of using TB. One student told me that he liked that I trusted students to learn the material on their own, and that made him want to do well in my class. It’s very helpful to have feedback from the students because I use the feedback to plan lessons and activities, my lessons have changed quite a bit from my initial use of TB to my current use.


Related posts