I have been an educator in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for 14 years. In my current role as an Elementary Instructional Coach at Ephrata Area School District, I love sharing new strategies, resources, and tools with the teachers I work with. I am incredibly fortunate to work in a very innovative and future-focused school district that, like nearly half of the school districts in the United States, uses Discovery Education services. The new Discovery Education Experience, as the latest generation of Discovery Education Streaming is now known, is the most comprehensive resource I share with teachers in my district. It is beautifully streamlined and intuitive, making navigation simple for veteran and new teachers alike. Since Discovery Education has so much to offer, teachers often ask me where they should start. So, I have compiled my top seven tips and tricks to maximize Discovery Education Experience.
7. Browse by Channels
Thanks to the new Discovery Education Experience, you can now use channels to find the best content. Channels help to browse new, curated content to meet your needs and bring you the best of best content every single time. When working with teachers, I recommend browsing through channels by subject. That way you’ll quickly find new and trending content from the Discovery Education library in a specific content area. You can also browse channels based on standards. Let’s say you’re a second grade teacher looking for content to support your instruction of identifying the main idea of multi-paragraph texts. Using the Standards Channel, you’ll be able to drill down to that specific standard and find supporting content and resources.
6. Professional Learning Center – Hot Topics
The Professional Learning center is chock-full of strategies and resources for teachers to grow professionally. Most often, though, I find myself sending teachers to explore Hot Topics within the Professional Learning Center. I like to think of Hot Topics as toolkits for educators that are organized by the hottest topics in education today. The Differentiated Instruction topic is one that I find particularly useful. Some of the resources you’ll find here to add to your toolkit include self-paced interactive courses, instructional strategies, and fresh perspectives from fellow educators. You’ll even find a series of videos that take a look into classrooms that use Discovery Education to differentiate instruction. The Professional Learning Center is your one-stop shop for growth and learning.
5. Personalized Content
This is what makes the new Discovery Education Experience so exciting. When first logging in to Discovery Education Experience, I encourage teachers to input their demographical information like grade level and content area. In doing this, purposeful content is then displayed right on their home page. This saves time by enabling teachers to browse focused and curated content at their fingertips. The new Discovery Education Experience reminds me of Netflix. Based on your viewing history, Netflix knows what things you’re likely to enjoy and those titles are placed right on your home page. Similarly, based on the demographics you input, Discovery Education tailors your home page for you. The elementary teachers I work with no longer have to sort through content that is more appropriate for high schoolers. The home page of a social studies teacher is no longer flooded with science content. Now what teacher doesn’t love saving time?
When I introduce teachers to Studio, the content creation tool within Discovery Education Experience, they are amazed at its versatility. Since you can choose to use a Board (think of a Board as a digital version of a student poster board) as a teaching tool or as a platform for student work, it’s hard not to see the value in Studio. Boards can incorporate various forms of media and adding content from the Discovery Education library or from your files is incredibly easy. Teachers can build Studio boards as teaching tools that include digital media to support their content. Or they can build boards that contain tasks for learners to complete to provide evidence of their learning. One of my favorite features that teachers often don’t know about is that Studio boards are collaborative documents. Students can share a live link and work collaboratively on one board. And if you already have your class set up to use Discovery Education Experience, , assigning boards to students is as easy as clicking “assign” to classroom.
3. Virtual Field Trips
Like most educators across the country, teachers in my district are limited in the experiences they can provide for their students. Budgets, time, and geography often determine what students have access to. The teachers in my district love being able to use Discovery Education to take their students on virtual field trips. And, suddenly, budgets, time and geography are irrelevant. Teachers I’ve introduced to virtual field trips especially love that Discovery Education often provides supplemental content to use before, during and after the virtual field trips to maximize the entire experience with little additional research or prep. And if classes can catch a virtual field trip while it’s live, teachers and students can interact with the experts. Asking the moderators and experts questions in real time make virtual field trips almost as powerful as the real thing.
2. The DEN
The Discovery Education Network (DEN) is an online community just for educators. It’s a supportive place for us to collaborate, share and network with educators from around the world. Most of the teachers in my district are part of a local professional learning community and love the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other. The power of the DEN is in the diversity of educators and the wealth of knowledge they contribute. I often encourage teachers to tap into the power of the DEN to connect, collaborate and problem solve with other educators. With thousands of years of educational experience among those of us in the DEN, it is the most powerful and influential professional learning community I have introduced teachers to.
1. Spotlight on Strategies
If you haven’t explored the Spotlight on Strategies, or SOS as Discovery Education Expereince = users lovingly call them, this should be your very first stop. I send teachers to Spotlight on Strategies for proven ways of engaging students and encouraging complex thinking and collaboration. Regardless of grade level or content area, SOS has numerous strategies that incorporate the effective use of digital content so any educator is bound to find several strategies that work for them. Whether you are looking for summarizing strategies, quick instructional hooks or assessment strategies, you should head straight to SOS. You won’t be disappointed.
Although these are only my top 7 tips and tricks to maximize your Discovery Education experience, there are dozens of other features that educators will find useful. If you’re new to Discovery Education Experience, I recommend checking out the step-by-step guides in the Professional Learning Center. And, as always, be sure to connect with the DEN Online Community for support.