Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Got Discovery Education Science for Middle School?

One of the bigger challenges in the classroom is engaging all the students -- the quick, the impatient, the deliberate and "slower," those who need extra repetition or personal attention, the bored, the disengaged, the social butterflies. Maya Payne Smart reports in Edutopia on Discovery Education Science for Middle School that combines e-books, video, virtual labs, glossaries and more in a service that can appeal to all your students at once.

Discovery Education Science for Middle School costs about $2000 a year per school. In that package are educator-vetted resources meant to capture the interest of "students with diverse interests, knowledge, aptitudes, and learning styles in the earth, life, and physical sciences." The service has adaptations that help slower learners or those with disabilities. For example, most e-books come with audio assistance so students can hear the text as well as see it, a boon for particular learners. Some of the available videos have closed-captioning. And for those students speeding through the middle school curriculum, the service offers additional resources. When students are absent, they can log in from their house and keep up with their lessons at their own pace. This Discovery service is also excellent for extended student absences. And your classes can stay on track if you have to miss a few days for illness or professional development.

Discovery Education Science also offers in one package a lot of resources that schools couldn't necessarily afford if acquired separately. Emma Haygood, who teaches science and technology at Berrien Springs Middle School in Michigan, said "The service offers a lot of interactive labs the kids can work on that I wouldn't otherwise be able to have in my classroom. And because it's on the computer, makes noise, and is interactive, they think it's the greatest thing." Since students work at their own pace, interruptions during the day, like special events or assemblies are less of a problem.

Tracie Belt, who teaches life science at Shorecrest Preparatory School in Florida, praised the multimodal offerings of Discovery Education Science. It's easier to blend art, language arts and social studies with science and technology with Discovery's interactive glossaries, image libraries and videos. With Discovery Education Science, all these resources are in a single, easily navigated space that lends itself not only to individualized and differentiated instruction but also to collaborative learning. The virtual labs, though no substitute for all hands-on learning, "still stimulate their thinking and allow them to test their predictions," Belt said.

Discovery Education Science for Middle School also includes online assessments and grading tools to help you track your students' progress and determine grades. If your school has the cash and is trying to move to more collaborative and project-based learning, you can find more information at the Discovery Education Science website. You can even sign up for a 30-day free trial to see how it works and if you're interested in using it with your students next year.

SOURCE: "Cooking Up a (Virtual) Laboratory: Discovery Education Science Delivers" 5/1/08
photo courtesy of TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³, used under this Creative Commons license

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