I Started a Love Affair with Discovery Education’s Science Techbook

In Professional Development, Teaching Strategies by rafranzdavis0 Comments

Yesterday, I fell in love.

I attended Discovery Education’s Techbook Connect Texas, an interactive experiential look inside of their science digital textbook. I was able to experience science from the perspective of a student and I felt something that I have never felt before…LOVE for Science!

Unlike other digital textbooks, Discovery Ed’s techbook is equipped with media, interactive learning environments and other features that make personalized learning a more engaging experience.  Yesterday, I was able to connect on a more deeper pedagogical level as to how to best integrate media into a classroom…an area that is often ignored.

In one session, we were able to experience a lesson as if we were students. Moving between stations, we completed an equal mix of physical hands-on activities along with digital explorations. Prior to this moment, I thought that a digital textbook such as this would be experienced singularly from a device. In many classrooms, it is. What our trainer modeled for us was how teachers could bring hands-on explorations to life while still incorporating the digital media within.

Perhaps the real power behind the science techbook is that it is not meant to be a digital replacement portal for teachers. Using researched based pedagogical strategies, we learned how to facilitate learning using techbook as a resource whether students have devices or not…a reality that still exist for many of us.

For example, the teacher component of techbook looks like any other 5E model lesson plan. Within its resources is a warmup “launch” ppt file. We learned how to take the launch file and customize it to be a projectable “digital cue” file to aid with lesson facilitation and management. As a trainer, I was glad to experience this as I will be duplicating this idea in training.

Using the Techbook in class is not about sending students to read and watch video with no interaction. It is very much about helping them to own their learning through reflective interaction with their media rich resource.  I’ve seen countless numbers of teachers play full length movies and ask kids to fill in blanks on a worksheet while watching. Students are normally asleep before the title hits the screen.

As  one of our trainers, Patti Duncan pointed out, when kids are asked to simply fill in blanks they are not utilizing any critical thinking skills nor developing understanding of the content. She shared many tips regarding the facilitation of media. I personally connected with five “big tips” that teachers can do with media in the classroom.

  1. Video strategy: Present kids with 3 truths & a lie regarding media. Have them determine the lie and justify in their journal.
  2. Journaling, digital or non-digital, should be a part of the learning experience. Reflection leads to ownership.
  3. Media Strategy: Present two statements regarding media & have kids agree/disagree & justify before & after media.
  4. (My favorite) Media Strategy: AEIOU (Adjective, Emotion, Interest, Oh!, Ummm?) Kids identify moments from the media reflective of each phrase.
  5. Kids should not be asked to watch videos longer than 5 minutes. (enough said)

With multi-lingual support as well as the student driven board builder, I could not imagine being a teacher with access to such an incredible source and not utilizing it in the way that we experienced our day…engaging and reflective.

As a longtime user of discovery education resources, I have to say that the digital techbook is one of the most empowering yet powerful learning portals that I have seen in a very long time. I will definitely be sharing its greatness with all who will listen.

As a math educator, I am even more pumped for what is to come with the release of the digital math techbook. Like science, I’m sure that I’ll fall in love all over again.

Below are snapshots from the day as posted to instagram.

techbook

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