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Elevating Student Voices While Meeting Academic Standards

Elevating Student Voices While Meeting State Academic Standards

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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

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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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Science Techbook Impacts Student Engagement and Achievement

Science Techbook Impacts Student Engagement & 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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Bringing Standards-Aligned Curriculum to All Students​

Bringing Standards-Aligned Curriculum to All Students

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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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