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Creating a Community of Science Enthusiasts

How Pivot Interactives Helped Create a Community of Science Enthusiasts

Success Stories

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Westside Community Schools
Omaha, Nebraska

Meet Judith Stucky, the "Original" Pivot Interactives Teacher

Judith (Judy) Stucky never thought she would go into education. But when she discovered a love of teaching science, not only was she pleasantly surprised, but she was hooked!

In college, I kept changing my major repeatedly, from computer science to electrical engineering, to physics. But I had a wonderful physics professor who asked me to be a TA for one of his physics labs. It was the best class I had and was truly the highlight of my time as a student. Every week I helped other people learn physics … I got to show them how much fun physics was!

Fast forward 33 years later, and Judy still loves every minute of teaching. Today, she is a physics instructor at Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska, where she has been teaching for the last two decades. It was here that she first discovered Pivot Interactives, becoming the first teacher to use the program. She still uses it today and continues to find creative ways to bring science to life for her students and share Pivot with her colleagues. We spoke with Judy to learn more about how she first came to use Pivot Interactives and how the partnership has grown over the years to support teachers and students at the high school in many ways.

Pivot Interactives' Impact on Westside High School

Westside High School is unusual in that physics is one of the graduation requirements. Because of this, the school offers a variety of physics classes to reach a broad spectrum of students, including AP Physics 1 and 2, and AP Physics C (Mechanics and Electricity & Magnetism). Like her experience as a TA, Judy saw an opportunity to engage all students with the subject. She leaned on Pivot Interactives to help her.

Just like when I was a TA in college, I’m engaging with high school students several times a day, and many times with those who don’t necessarily like math or physics but are required to take the class. I try to show them how much fun I think it is, but also get them interested along the way. I was also part of a STEM team for a variety of courses, including engineering and mechanics, for students who are really interested in these subject areas.

Adopting Pivot allowed Judy to move away from the textbook labs and toward a higher variety of labs. It also gives science instructors more tools and experiences to demonstrate the different topics and ideas they want to share with students.

At first, teaching physics was just textbooks and whatever labs I made up. But when I had to teach AP Physics B for the first time, I needed more advanced labs that included Vernier Graphical Analysis. With Pivot, the labs were already there! Labs that I never thought of, that include engaging videos. The students loved it and found it fascinating to record things and calculate energy and motion. With the frame-by-frame analysis, they can break down any type of motion, and those students want detail and precision in their measurements. They also know Pivot will help make the graph for them. My AP Physics C students still ask if they can use Pivot—it’s their go-to!

Lesson Planning & Skill Building

What Judy finds helpful is both the Pivot team in their attentiveness, and the effective, multi-purpose use of Pivot itself—keeping students on track when anyone is absent (including her), remediating general physics skills, and allowing students to steer the activity to learn new skills. It even offers hands-on labs in a digital setting that provide a similar experience students would see in the classroom.

Pivot allows for a higher variety of labs and, in some ways, helps speed up part of the lesson. If we’re done teaching graphing skills, for example, why not have the program graph some of the labs we do so we can focus more on physics and skip plotting points? It gives us a wider variety of tools and experiences that we can use to demonstrate the many topics and ideas we want to share with our students.

We also use Pivot often for summative labs. While students can consult each other for help, they all must do their own work! One lab in Pivot has 40 different videos, so the odds of having two students with the same video were very slim. This sets them up to help each other, but not copy off each other.

When the science team went to the NSTA conference, we used Pivot to help us plan lessons. On day one the students received the data, on day two they got the graph, and on day three they completed an extension activity and finished up the lab. Pivot is so helpful for us with such short class periods—we save time, and the students can’t lose their work!

Students' Perspective

My AP students want to videotape every lab that they do and put it in Pivot! For my reluctant students, they like that Pivot helps them create the graph and offers the flexibility of completing work at home. They also love that some questions tell them if they’re right or wrong and that even the open-ended questions give them a chance to review the data as they answer.

Lightbulb Moments

Judy and her colleagues at Westside High School believe Pivot helps students build skills they use in higher-level classes, and in many cases inspires them to rethink their interest in STEM.

I once had a student in general physics who didn’t like math and science much, until physics. He was always very good at doing the labs in Pivot and asking questions. The next year, this “reluctant” science student signed up for AP physics and did very well! What we did in general physics made him see a different side to math and science that he really enjoyed.

Judy and her colleagues at Westside High School believe Pivot helps students build skills they use in higher-level classes, and in many cases inspires them to rethink their interest in STEM.

We are finally getting non-physics teachers on board with Pivot! Chemistry teachers and the biology team both have started using it. In fact, the chemistry teacher came to me right after trying it and said, “We just used Pivot for the first time, and it is awesome!” With the biology team, there was some hesitancy, but we have one teacher who teaches physics and biology. After using Pivot 2-3 times in the first month, teachers and students are really enjoying it! All in all, Pivot simplifies your life as a teacher and student learning without adding to your workload.

Advice from a Veteran Teacher

It’s teachers like Judy Stucky that show how choosing the right EdTech tools, and using them effectively, supports students in so many ways, and allows teachers to be the teacher they set out to be. We asked her what kind of advice she would bestow upon other teachers first starting out and gave us some insight that we couldn’t have said better.

From 5 AM to 10 PM, you make a million decisions as a science teacher—spur of the moment changes you must adapt to. It can be frustrating, but you make a difference. You see those differences years down the road. I’m still in contact with students from 30 years ago! Just remember, you can’t be that person for every student, but you can certainly be that person, that impactful teacher, for someone. They need you and you need them, making it very rewarding.

Quick Facts

Partnership Details

  • 14 schools serving 6,200 students
  • Partners with Pivot Interactives since 2012

Solutions

  • Pivot Interactives

Classroom Application

  • Supplemental 
  • Hands-on Learning
  • Cross-Curricular Support
  • Teacher Support

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Elevating Student Voices While Meeting Academic Standards

Elevating Student Voices While Meeting State Academic Standards

Success Stories

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Arizona Department of Education

Discovery Education's Impact

In 2021, Discovery Education and the Arizona Department of Education embarked on a 3-year partnership to tackle the need for high-quality, diverse resources that help students achieve cross-curricular skills outlined in the state’s academic standards. Additionally, the Department of Education wanted to highlight Native American culture and heritage to help students see themselves and their world in the materials, ultimately deepening engagement and providing new ways to develop critical skills that are a growing component of statewide assessments.

The state used ESSER funds to bring equitable access to Discovery Education Experience and its transformative digital resources, as well as provide ongoing professional learning to as many educators as possible throughout the partnership. Discovery Education was chosen for several reasons, starting with our longstanding record of delivering high-quality resources, engaging content, and simplified integration and usability. The alignment of Discovery’s resources to the state’s standards, specifically in social studies, was a plus, too.

We really wanted to make it easy for teachers to work smarter, not harder, and engage students with primary sources and materials to make social studies relevant.
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Linda Burrows
Deputy Associate Superintendent of Academic Standards, AZ State Dept. of Ed.

Additionally, many of the state assessments include primary sources and stimulus-based questions that require students to demonstrate understanding and apply knowledge in context. State officials recognized that the strategies, questions, and content in Experience are very similar in nature, so these resources can be used to expose students to rigorous, stimulus-based questions they will encounter on later summative assessments.

Elevating Student Voices Through Curated Content

To deliver on the need for instruction around Native American history and culture, Discovery Education worked closely with the Arizona Department of Education, Arizona educators, and the Office of Indian Education to create the Native Stories of the Southwest Channel—a curation of Southwest Indigenous stories that are authentic, culturally relevant, and allows students to see themselves in their learning. It was a priority for all parties involved to ensure the Native stories across the Southwest were brought into all classrooms across the state, as they sought the help and guidance from a diverse group of educators, especially those who are members of Nations being represented.

Finding educational materials that accurately reflect important historical events and portray Indigenous people authentically can be challenging. There are over 574 federally recognized tribes and 63 state-recognized tribes, each with their own diverse languages, customs, history, and traditions. Because of this rich diversity, educational materials need to evolve to reflect the multifaceted Native identity.

The teams carefully searched for resources, reviewed them, and determined the best grade level for them. There were deep conversations about what type of content could be open to all students and what was developmentally appropriate for different age groups. The goal was to ensure the educational materials were authentic, accurate, and most importantly, vetted by the Indigenous communities and wisdom keepers. The channel was designed to include grab-and-go lessons, interactives activities, videos, and more that can enrich K-12 classrooms across the state.

Indigenous students need to see accurate portrayals of their history that balance and honor the tragedy and loss of what’s happened in these communities with the joy and innovation that have come from them. It’s also vital for non-Native students to reflect on Indigenous people’s contributions and perspectives . . . It was important to us [working on the creation of this channel] that all teachers and all students could learn, engage, and find meaning in this powerful learning experience, and I believe the channel has accomplished this!

These resources are also standards-aligned so AZ teachers can meet standards throughout multiple grades, including those that cover state history, early American history and Indigenous voices, tribal governance, and U.S. history. Because the social studies standards were purposely written to complement the ELA standards, the resources in this channel, as well as other resources and strategies in Experience, help students practice their reading and literacy skills.

We created a crosswalk to see how the standards in social studies and ELA match. Then, very purposefully made the connection for teachers so they can seamlessly bring in disciplinary literacy. Social studies and ELA are like peanut butter and jelly! They fit well together, and the standards help these subjects work together at both the elementary and secondary levels.
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Linda Burrows
Deputy Associate Superintendent of Academic Standards, AZ State Dept. of Ed.

Since the launch of the channel in 2022, students are truly engaging with the material to get a better sense of the world in which they live. It has also helped educators to create a community where students from diverse backgrounds can learn about, and from, each other in a collaborative manner.

Professional Learning

Thanks to the collaboration between Discovery Education, the AZ Office of Indian Education, and the AZ Office of Academic Standards, teachers were provided with free professional learning sessions throughout year that targeted relevant topics to Arizona educators—notably how to incorporate and elevate indigenous voices in the classroom. While it is mandatory to teach about the history of the Indigenous peoples of Arizona, the state was also aiming to incorporate marginalized voices into standards-based work.

It was very important for us to offer resources to our teachers to cover these topics because many non-Indigenous teachers didn’t know how to find the right resources and were worried about making sure they were culturally appropriate. It was a great collaboration between my team, our Office of Indian Education, and Discovery Education to ensure our teachers knew how to find and use these resources to the benefit of their students.
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Linda Burrows
Deputy Associate Superintendent of Academic Standards, AZ State Dept. of Ed.

Professional Learning was also offered at the secondary level to help with cross-curricular support and to connect standards. For example, bridging the gap between courses like World Literature and World History would help those teachers introduce the same terminology and concepts so they can reinforce skills and help students build background knowledge.

Lightbulb Moment

The teaching strategies that Discovery Education provides created a lightbulb moment for teachers. They realized that not only is the content in Experience, notably the Native Stories of the Southwest Channel, high-quality and authentic, it also supports cross-curricular skills and standards. The strategies show teachers how they can use the content, meet multiple academic standards across subjects, and give students an authentic, engaging learning experience in one lesson.

Looking Ahead

Arizona’s focus is continuing to help teachers understand the ability of Discovery Education to support their efforts in delivering high-quality resources and meeting academic standards and making the connection between the two. Additionally, Arizona will continue to be a leader in elevating student voices, especially in Native American communities, and empowering their educators to do the same.

Quick Facts

Partnership Details

  • All public and private schools in the state
  • Partnered with Discovery Education since 2021

Solutions

  • Discovery Education Experience
  • Professional Learning

Classroom Application

  • Supplemental
  • Cross-curricular Support
  • Alignment to Standards
  • Diverse representation

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Streamlining STEM Education to Better Support Teachers

Streamlining STEM Education to Better Support Teachers

Success Stories

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Washoe County School District

Washoe, Nevada

Discovery Education's Impact

After the COVID-19 pandemic, Washoe County School District in Nevada biggest challenges were student engagement, learning loss, and how to manage the adaptation of varying STEM instruction from campus to campus. Middle school subjects were taught in silos yet had a STEM lab, high school STEM focused on Career & Technical Education, and elementary schools took a cross-curricular approach to STEM that was supported by a computer lab. 

To combat the challenges from the pandemic and support the different types of STEM instruction, the Nevada State Department of Education—with funding support from Nevada Gold Mines—selected Discovery Education Experience as a statewide option for its ease of use, ability to reach learners wherever they are, and high-quality, standards-aligned content. It proved to be the right choice because teachers like those in Washoe School District could rely on Experience to supplement instruction no matter how they taught STEM, while ensuring student engagement at multiple levels.

I initially was worried about implementing a new program, but when Discovery Education’s team came on board, the partnership just clicked! They provided the perfect resources to share with teachers so that I wouldn’t have to recreate the wheel; the way it’s set up makes it so easy to use. It continues to be such a strong partnership because of DE’s ability to understand what works best for our educators and students.
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Kindra Fox
Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction, Washoe County School District

Experience also made an impact on the level of rigor in lessons to meet the district’s goals for student success. Finding the wealth of standards-aligned activities in Experienceencouraged many teachers to reflect on the standards they were teaching and see how they can enhance the rigor of their lessons using the helpful resources in Discovery Education and in their core program.

In Discovery Education Experience, there are great videos, but the best part is that there are also questions, graphic organizers, or activities embedded into the videos that will hold students accountable for the learning. These strategies and activities are what take the content to the next level for my students.
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Aaron Grossman
5th Grade Teacher, NV

Lightbulb Moments

Discovery Education gives teachers control over how to navigate and use the resources to fit their classroom teaching and learning needs. Teachers found they can execute individual assignments easily, like videos, or conduct whole-class instruction. They can deliver the lessons in multiple ways to fit the needs of their classrooms and students. For example, Discovery Education can support learning both at school and at home, giving them continual access to engaging learning resources like Virtual Field Trips.

From small group instruction to activity centers to independent study, it’s really appealing for a teacher because It's not the same “watch a video, do some questions” approach—it takes the monotony away and lends itself much more to engagement with students. And when students are willing to learn at a deeper level, Discovery Education really shines.
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Kindra Fox
Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction

Looking Ahead

Between the curriculum leaders in Washoe County School District and the Discovery Education team, much is being done to find new ways to bring Discovery Education to more teachers, especially at the high school level. This close partnership focuses on identifying the needs of the high schools and targeting those needs through Discovery Education’s resources and professional learning. The district is also taking strategic steps in improving communication and outreach to their 100+ schools regarding the multitude of ways that Discovery Education can support effective teaching and learning.  

Quick Facts

School Details

  • Statewide partner with Discovery Education since 2020

Solutions

  • Discovery Education Experience
  • Professional Learning

Classroom Application

  • Supplemental Instruction
  • Cross-curricular support
  • Alignment to standards

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Creating a Stronger Learning Community through Virtual Field Trips​

Creating a Stronger Learning Community through Virtual Field Trips

Success Stories

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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

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Making a Change in STEAM Culture​

Making a Change in STEAM Culture

Success Stories

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Cherokee County School District

Acworth, GA

Discovery Education’s Impact

With increased awareness on the immediacy of providing students with STEAM opportunities that prepare them for a bright future, Cherokee County School District was committed to ensuring educators could instill a new and effective STEAM culture in their classrooms. In 2019, Cherokee County School District launched a 3-year partnership with Discovery Education to transform the STEAM culture in its elementary and middle schools. Through this innovative partnership, a professional learning program was implemented to build capacity in high-quality STEAM instruction and help teacher-leaders across the district bring engaging, personalized, and inquiry-based learning to classrooms. Together, Discovery Education and Cherokee addressed the district’s strategic goals to:

  • Provide students with opportunities to become STEAM literate and competitive in the future workforce;
  • Transform a culture of teaching and learning that integrates critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity to develop a student-centered learning environment;
  • Ignite a clear and uniform STEAM definition for the district;
  • Integrate digital content into a cohesive K-12 curriculum, with consistent and effective professional learning that supports a sustainable culture shift; and
  • Foster community, business, and key stakeholder engagement.

The partnership also gave K-8 teachers access to Discovery Education Experience, our PreK-12 learning platform, and Mystery Science to help them implement the culture shift in STEAM instruction and support cross-curricular learning. These solutions offer ways to engage students with real-world learning and give teachers peace of mind in planning their day.

My biggest challenge was finding materials that are student friendly. Discovery Education has eliminated the process of having to search through various resources to find information that is student friendly, and I know that students will like. Having two Discovery Education products within one platform eliminates the hassle of having to navigate extra resources. It has shortened my prep time significantly and has helped me spend more time with interventions and enrichment activities.

Looking Ahead

Today the partnership successfully delivers a quality, engaging STEAM education to K-8 students that builds leadership capacity, improves instructional practice, and increases student engagement. Through Discovery Education’s digital resources and professional learning support, educators across the district see the impact of investing in a STEAM culture that prepares their students for success.

Quick Facts

School Details

  • 40 schools and centers serving 42,000+ students
  • Partnered with Discovery Education since 2019

Solutions

  • Experience
  • Mystery Science
  • Professional Learning

Classroom Application

  • Supplemental STEAM for grades K‑5
  • STEAM leadership professional learning

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Bringing Standards-Aligned Curriculum to All Students​

Bringing Standards-Aligned Curriculum to All Students

Success Stories

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Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Miami-Dade, FL

Miami-Dade County Public Schools is one of the largest school systems in the United States. It serves a diverse student population in a city that is a gateway and hub to Latin America and the rest of the world. The Miami-Dade County Public School District leadership realized that today’s students have changed, that they needed more access to the world in preparation for their futures, and that schools needed to catch up.

Challenge

In a district with over 345,000 students, ensuring consistent and equitable curriculum access for all learners is paramount. They also decided one of the most effective ways to accomplish this was to build educator capacity to transform teaching and learning.

Solution

They turned to Discovery Education in order to infuse digital resources, complete with curriculum alignment and pacing guides, as well as targeted professional development into their schools to make learning more relevant for their students. Services included:

Results

Evidence shows that when educators within Miami-Dade County Public Schools used Discovery Education Streaming Plus with students, it was associated with better performance on the science FCAT as compared to classrooms in which students were not engaged with multimodal resources from Discovery Education Streaming Plus.

With a focused effort around teacher effectiveness as well as ubiquitous access to content that brings the world to the classroom, Miami-Dade County Public Schools achieved a 7 point increase on the 8th and 11th grade science FCAT exams.

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