Discovery Education’s Top 9 Ideas of 2016

With 2016 quickly coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on what the year brought us.

We’ve reviewed some of our best articles, white papers and case studies posted to the Discovery Education Blog this year to bring you a sampling of some of the most powerful education leadership ideas we read. Each post below includes a link to a more dense article or downloadable document so  you can fully explore the topic.

Read on to learn more about Discovery Education’s 9 key lessons of 2016:

1. Providing STEM for All Is the Path to the Future

The idea that STEM education is only for the most gifted students on track for graduate degrees is a falsehood. Roughly 35 percent of the 8.6 million STEM jobs needed nationwide will require sub-baccalaureate degrees by the year 2020. Educating all students in STEM practices will level the playing field and provide pathways to future success for all no matter your zip-code, skin color, cultural background, or gender. Something needs to change, but it is unfair to expect educators to institute foundational changes without extensive support. (Read more: STEM for All: Creating a Healthy STEM Ecosystem)

2. Superintendents: Relentlessly Communicate Your Digital Vision

Clearly and relentlessly communicate your vision. As you embark on a digital transition, use the communication tools you already have to provide a framework for the transition and make answers to questions easily available to all stakeholders. Even if you lead a small district without a robust communications team, there are things you can do. Perhaps you have a principal who is a gifted editorial writer, or a teacher who can deliver the message of digital learning to local Rotary meetings and other gatherings. (Read more: 10 Reasons Superintendents Are Taking the Digital Leap)

3. Hook Students on STEM Learning with Driving Questions

“STEM projects can be daunting, but they don’t need to be. A driving question hooks your students and pulls their learning into a real world format. STEM projects facilitate connections to be made in the journey of learning rather than at the beginning or end of an instructional sequence. This sense of ownership helps to build the 21st century learners that are leading our future.” (Read more: 4 Pieces to Include When Planning a Quality STEM Project)

4. Create Meaningful Connections Between Science Instruction and Students’ Lives

“Because science teachers are encouraged to teach for conceptual change, they are also encouraged to use experiences that come from the everyday lives of their students. An added benefit of this approach is that using experiences that students can relate to their everyday lives has also been shown to increase student engagement with learning.” (Read more: 9 Principles to Creating Powerful NGSS Classrooms with Science Techbook)

5. Help Students Approach Subjects Like Experts

“Experts don’t just rely on one resource. Their expertise is contingent on their own observations, along with the perspectives of others, expressed across several media types. Likewise, the days of using a single textbook as a teaching resource are over. Educators must begin using new types of resources in the classroom, including digital content and media to immerse students in real-world reading, writing and thinking.” (Read more: Disciplinary Literacy: Teaching Students How to Read Like Scientists

6. Digital Transition Is a Major Shift: Ignore it at Your Own Peril

“Take the time up front to help teachers learn the expected instructional change. The first year of a successful tech rollout should include demonstration classrooms that allow other teachers, parents, and community members to see the change expected, while teachers have access to the anticipated technology. This ensures that year two, which may include wider scale transition, is built on a firm foundation of in-district experience.” (Read more: Learn the 5 Principles to Making a Digital Transition

7. A Relevant Science Classroom is a Successful Science Classroom

“Rather than asking students to memorize abstract concepts, STEM-based projects allow students to solve problems in the context of the real world. Using real-world problems answers the commonly asked question, ‘Why is this important, especially if I can Google it?'” (Read more: 4 Elements of Great STEM Education)

8. Want to Master Engagement? Don’t Shy Away from Nontraditional Teaching Methods

“Teachers can’t focus on their students’ effort and help them understand they can improve if they’re utilizing traditional approaches to learning. Assigning vocabulary or comprehension questions are both good examples of such traditional tasks that students work to compliantly complete. As school leaders, we must support teachers in building deeper tasks that challenge students and prompt them to want to acquire new knowledge and skills.” (From: Busting the Myth of Student Engagement)

9. Tap the Power of Your Teacher Leaders Teacher Leadership

“When teacher leaders fully understand their impact on colleagues, observable changes in student learning can occur. A 2005 study concluded that the professionalism teacher leadership has the potential to build—one that is based on trust, recognition, empowerment, and support—can improve teaching and learning in schools. While the Teacher Leader Model Standards provide the framework for fostering such leadership, the process for equipping teacher leaders with the ability and confidence to carry out what the Standards call for is much more complex.” (From: How to Tap the Power of Teacher Leadership)


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  1. jet writers said:

    totally agree that we should incorporate STEM into our education system..of course this thing about giving a high school student a possibility to choose subjects they want to learn is nice and i’d say a liberal thing to do but still a high school kid may think he hates math but in fact he may be really good at it..still he will not give it a go simply because he doesn’t like it but as we all know teenagers are changing the minds hundreds times a day so for example in 10th grade he may hate math but at the end of the year he may come to think he doesn’t hate ti so much..besides this liberal thing we are doing to our kids not only may destroy their future but shows that US is not among..the top ten are:
    1. Singapore
    2. Hong Kong
    3. South Korea
    4. Japan (tie)
    4. Taiwan (tie)
    6. Finland
    7. Estonia
    8. Switzerland
    9. Netherlands
    10. Canada
    and US holds 28th place so it is no wonder we are recruiting bright minds from other countries since our country simply cannot produce bright minds..wonder why??anyways..what i also want to say is that this change of the educational system may not be accepted by students right away since they will have more homework to do and less social life but in a long perspective this is a choice for the better

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