Oregon goes digital with science

Across the country, teaching science from textbooks alone is going the way of the dinosaur. Most educators believe that in order to hold the attention of 21st century learners and to prepare them for the technology of tomorrow, digital resources must become primary teaching tools.

The Oregon State Board of Education has recently beefed up its digital curriculum by approving Discovery Education Science - Elementary Solution for grades K-5/6 and Discovery Education Science - Middle School Solution for grades 6-8 for statewide adoption as part of its K-12 Science and 9-12 Mathematics Instructional Materials Evaluation Process.

"A convergence of economic, technological and cultural forces have brought us to a time where digital resources, such as the Discovery Education Science - Elementary and Middle School Solutions, are poised to replace traditional textbooks as the primary instructional tool to engage students in learning," said Kelli Campbell, Discovery Education Senior Vice President of Content and Product Development. "States such as California, Texas and Indiana have recently made efforts to put digital content in the hands of educators, as these resources are more dynamic, engaging and cost effective than traditional textbooks."

The Discovery Education Science solutions are the first digital basal instructional materials to be approved for statewide adoption in Oregon. Correlated to the 2009 Oregon Science Curriculum Standards, and organized around an inquiry-based framework, the online service covers the physical, earth, space and life sciences, and encourages student exploration and critical thinking.

Digital content is available in a range of modalities, including standards-based videos, virtual labs, simulations, ebooks, and text passages. Each student accesses the service with a unique username and password, allowing educators to tailor instruction to individual students through engaging video, colorful text passages and interactive explorations.

The formative assessment tool built into these digital instructional materials provides educators and students with information on which skills and concepts have been mastered, and directs individual students to remedial activities that address areas in need of improvement. Educators can evaluate a student's understanding throughout the learning process via a pre-test, mid-point check and post-test.

In order to showcase best practices and highlight new techniques for integrating digital content into classroom instruction, the instructional materials also feature comprehensive on-site and online professional development and printed teacher's guides. DVDs facilitate use of the service outside the classroom or where Internet access is unavailable. Printable worksheets, activities and hands-on suggestions for students are also provided.