Georgia district turns to digital curriculum alignment

Georgia's DeKalb County School System (DCSS) is committed to improving the academic achievement of all students and leading the nationwide transition to digital curriculum. After implementing digital resources from Discovery Education, the district sought to make instructional time more effective through digital content curriculum alignment. In 2010, the DeKalb County School System became the first district in Georgia to partner with Discovery Education on cross-curricular alignment, which has led to improved student achievement in science.Over the past six years, the DeKalb County School System and Discovery Education have partnered to improve student achievement, advance professional development, and evolve curriculum to meet the needs of 21st Century learners in a cost-effective way. The foundation of the partnership includes dynamic digital content from Discovery Education. In 2004, the school system began receiving Discovery Education streaming through a statewide partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting. Aligned to Georgia state standards, Discovery Education streaming is searchable by keyword, content area and grade level.

"I strongly believe that Discovery Education gives children the ability to experience the world in new ways, or through multimedia when direct experiences are not always possible," said Kelli Harris-Wright, Director, Department for Elementary Teaching and Learning for DeKalb County School System.

In the 2008-09 school year, the DeKalb County School System's 83 elementary schools received a subscription to Discovery Education Science, which offers standards-based virtual labs, simulations, video clips, and reading passages to encourage student exploration and stimulate critical thinking. In the first year, science test scores improved in grades 3, 4 and 5 between 2008 and 2009.

In order to maximize the impact of these two digital resources, the DeKalb County School System turned to curriculum alignment services from Discovery Education. The process involved mapping the English-Language Arts curriculum guide to digital content found in Discovery Education streaming and Discovery Education Science. Linking these resources allows district educators to reinforce science and literacy skills during standard English-Language Arts instruction time. Discovery Education content is now embedded into the curriculum guides so teachers can click and launch directly to optimal digital assets that are aligned to Georgia's standards as well as Common Core State Standards for classroom lessons.

In addition to providing digital content and curriculum alignment services, Discovery Education implemented a professional development program that taught educators how to incorporate digital media into everyday teaching. "They learned how to create lesson plans, use Web 2.0 tools, and that digital media in lesson planning and delivery is more than just videos," said Harris-Wright. "Our partnership with Discovery Education has supported our efforts to transition from static textbooks to a dynamic digital curriculum."

Discovery Education will continue to support educators in the DeKalb County School System with one of the nation's largest professional learning communities, the Discovery Educator Network (DEN). Through the DEN, educators have access to a wide range of technology training as well as a resource library of teacher-generated projects and tools.