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Science Techbook Impacts Student Engagement and Achievement

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Sahuarita Unified School District

Sahuarita, Arizona

Discovery Education's Impact

In 2016, leaders at Sahuarita Unified Schools in Arizona knew they wanted to replace their outdated science textbooks. But the cost of new textbooks was high, and their budgets were facing some new challenges. They had to be innovative in funding sources, so they turned to Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, a local mining company’s  investment foundation that aims to make transformative changes for communities to improve their wellbeing.  

Sahuarita was awarded a grant from the foundation, which they used to implement Discovery Education Science Techbook for middle school as a supplemental resource, eventually expanding in the elementary grades.

With the amount of changes Arizona was undergoing with standards and funding, Techbook was selected because it was fluid and could adapt to the current science standards, as well as NGSS. It was cost efficient, flexible, and user friendly. It also proved to make a huge difference in access to engaging science curriculum.
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Brett Bonner
Assistant Superintendent, Sahuarita Unified School District

The initial implementation included district-provided professional learning, a research study, and professional learning from Discovery Education on ideal implementation and usage of Science Techbook in the classroom. The district then transitioned into using Science Techbook as the core curriculum for grades K-8, increasing their in-house professional development along with that offered by Discovery Education.   

Sahuarita has seen promising growth in terms of student achievement since the implementation of Science Techbook, as it creates high engagement levels across grades especially when used with hands-on labs and science projects. The teaching staff is also invested in its use. They appreciate and value having high-quality, updated resources and digital access to support their instruction.

When you combine an up-to-date curriculum, easy-to-use learning platform, content aligned to state standards, and robust professional learning, you have the perfect mix for a successful implementation.
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Brett Bonner
Assistant Superintendent, Sahuarita Unified School District

Science Techbook Implementation Study

For the 2022-2023 school year, Sahuarita Unified School District conducted an implementation study of Science Techbook to determine its impact on middle school students. Nine teachers from three middle schools participated.   

Pre- and post-assessments were given to 363 students in grade 6 and 378 students in grade 7 to serve as the control and response variables. The results showed a statistically significant positive correlation between the post-assessment scores and each variable of Techbook usage measured throughout the year. These results meet ESSA’s rigorous evidence-based Tier 3: Promising Evidence.  

Additionally, a survey was conducted among the educators involved in the use of Science Techbook, which revealed a high satisfaction with the quality of Techbook and support from Discovery Education.  In fact, “teachers who were more experienced with Techbook, invested time in learning it, valued the resources within it, and used it more . . . had students who generally performed better on the post-assessment.” 

The study also revealed the need for the district to invest more in technology to help increase access to students. Using ESSER funds, they are now at almost a 1:1 ratio with student Chromebooks.

Lightbulb Moments

Sahuarita believes that having an online resource like Science Techbook is a viable, affordable, and user-friendly solution that benefits both teachers and students. Even during the pandemic, it helped greatly reduce disruptions in learning because students could access it outside of the classroom. Additionally, it helps the district face the challenges of a teacher shortage by providing easy-to-use resources that are accessible to any level of teacher.

All the resources have strengthened academic skills the students need to succeed, but they also require active participation. I’ve found that the students are really engaged from start to finish—they’re reading, they're watching videos, and they're interested in the curriculum. The lessons are really fast paced and the students actually enjoy them, so the hour goes by quickly!
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Stacie Trebes
Middle School Science Teacher, Sahuarita USD

Even language acquisition students feel supported. There are plenty of Spanish resources available in Science Techbook that help ensure that language is never a barrier to learning. Additionally, Discovery Education offers resources translated into multiple languages to involve families whose primary language is not English

Connecting to the Community

Sahuarita believes in working closely with the community, because investing in education affects everyone involved. It regularly shares updates on its public website so that families can stay informed on all things Science Techbook and understand how it supports science learning for their children, as well as how it can be accessed at home. It also meets regularly with a diverse group of community stakeholders to ensure all voices are heard and to help identify areas of investment that align to community needs.  

In collaboration with Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, Sahuarita Unified Schools is a model example of how the impact of education goes well beyond the classroom and can help bring an entire community together. They recognize that the success of their students means the success of their community.

We want ALL our students to succeed, as well as our community, and Discovery Education helps us accomplish that.
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Brett Bonner
Assistant Superintendent, Sahuarita Unified Schools

Quick Facts

School Details

  • 10 schools serving 5,800 students
  • Partnered with Discovery Education since 2016

Solutions

  • Access to Education
  • Professional Learning
  • Standards Alignment
  • Bilingual Learners

Classroom Application

  • Supplemental
  • Core Curriculum

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Creating a Stronger Learning Community through Virtual Field Trips​

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Verona Area School District

Verona, WI

Discovery Education’s Impact

Verona Area School District was looking for fresh, innovative ways to engage students with learning that extends beyond the traditional classroom setting. The teachers wanted to offer rigorous academic content while also elevating their students’ sense of community and leadership skills. They found an invaluable resource in the Discovery Education Experience learning platform and its included Virtual Field Trips to bring an exciting, hands-on learning experience to K-12 students.

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Popular among Discovery Education educators, Virtual Field Trips take students on a unique journey to make real-world connections: like meeting Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Katie Ledecky and learning about STEM careers, visiting the arctic tundra to observe polar bears, or going behind the scenes at the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville, TN. These resources make an impact by creating connections between educators within a district, between subjects like music and physics, and between students and their community.

Since 2016, the district has been creating a new kind of interactive, hands-on learning activity that incorporates Virtual Field Trips and a little magic from its dedicated Educational Technology Coach, Rita Mortenson. What started out as a simple collaboration between teachers has evolved into a cross-curricular, cross-grade level learning experience. Now high schoolers are brought to the younger grades, and vice versa, to collaborate and experience the Virtual Field Trip together in engaging ways that they themselves have a hand in designing.

I’m very passionate about bringing joy to all spaces and elevating teachers. For instance, when we used Discovery Education to create an experience pairing a 2nd grade class with an AP Physics class, the AP Physics teacher said it was some of the greatest learning she has ever helped facilitate. It was amazing to see her students teach younger students about science experiments and watch them be leaders. We love to be champions for the teachers by helping create these moments.
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Lightbulb Moments

These Virtual Field Trips are more than just a video to add into a lesson or show to students. The first example of this innovative collaboration among Verona Area School District students used the NFL Play 60 Virtual Field Trip, created in partnership with the National Football League and the American Heart Association. Students from different high school athletic and academic programs were brought in to help design hands-on learning activities stemming from this digital resource to connect with elementary students and engage them in skill building.

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Today, there are a multitude of lightbulb moments showcasing how students connect through engaging, hands-on learning with these collaborative activities, and their impact extends beyond the classroom, too! High school students are empowered to make an impact on the younger generation and sharpen their leadership skills, which builds a sense of community.

Creating joy for students through these hands-on activities can help them learn new things or show what they have learned throughout a unit. For example, when elementary students completed a unit on weather, we set up an Extreme Weather Virtual Field Trip experience using Discovery Education Experience, with different stations students visited with high schoolers. This experience helps teachers visualize what they can do with online content and how to make it fun and exciting for their students. Making that connection between students and staff, but also between the curriculum and grade levels is really important!

Looking Ahead

According to teachers in the district, these collaborative Virtual Field Trips are “the best learning experience for their class,” and it’s been gaining more traction every year. The interest has expanded beyond the topics represented in Virtual Field Trips, which leaders like Rita see as an opportunity to lean on Discovery Education’s high-quality, diverse content to create even more collaborative learning opportunities.

With the support of district leadership and principals, Rita, Lisette, and other teacher-leaders are planning 10 or even 20 events a year, all while encouraging the participation of more teachers. Lastly, bringing in community leaders and outside industry leaders would open the door to Virtual Field Trips focused on careers to help prepare students for the future workforce and overall success.

Quick Facts

School Details

  • 10 schools serving 5,700+ students
  • Partnered with Discovery Education since 2011

Solutions

  • Experience
  • Mystery Science
  • Science Techbook for Middle School

Classroom Application

  • Core and supplemental instruction
  • Cross-curricular hands-on learning

Share This Story

Embark on Your Journey with Discovery Education

Learn How Discovery Education Can Help You Achieve Your Goals