Plainville Community Schools, 47 Robert Holcomb Way, Plainville CT 06062, (860)793-3200
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Plainville School District Partners With Discovery Education To Bring Digital Textbooks To Classrooms

As part of its ongoing effort to engage today's digital students and inspire lifelong learning, Plainville Community Schools has partnered with Discovery Education to bring its digital science Techbook series to teachers and students at both the middle and high school. The Discovery Education Science Techbook series features model lessons, dynamic digital content, and content creation tools to support educators, engage students, and prepare them for college, careers, and citizenship.

The move to the Techbook online tool for science classes was a cost effective alternative to the traditional textbook, which could cost approximately $100 each. The total cost of the Techbook licenses for both the middle and high school was just under $12,000, and covers all Science subject areas for six years at the high school and four years at the middle school.

"What makes the Techbook unique is the way it incorporates text, graphics, audio, and video materials. It's much more than a static textbook in digital form," said Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Dr. Linda Van Wagenen.

The Plainville school district began deploying the Discovery Education Science Techbook series in classrooms at the start of the 2015-16 school year. To help Plainville's educators prepare to integrate these new resources into classroom instruction, Discovery Education provided training to middle and high school Science Department faculty members prior to the start of the school year. The professional development training session focused on providing educators with the instructional strategies that result in sustainable improvements in student engagement and achievement.

"I anticipate the Discovery Education Techbooks will increase engagement and learning in our science classes. It uses the '5E' model which focuses on inquiry, and attempts to get students to think and act like scientists by interweaving hands-on activities with digital explorations. It also incorporates engineering practices, which will be critical in helping our curriculum transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The incredible amount of digital resources will benefit struggling learners. Our job is to prepare students for the world that they'll live in, which increasingly is becoming a digital one," explained Middle School of Plainville Science Department Instructional Leader, David Moore.

"The Discovery Education Techbooks are an exciting new teaching and learning tool that will allow our high school science students to engage with text, multimedia, and hands-on activities all via their Chromebooks," noted Plainville High School Science Department Instructional Leader, Paris Godbout. "The high school teachers were excited by what the professional development facilitator had to share with us."

The Discovery Education Science Techbook series features compelling video, interactive text, digital simulations, virtual and hands-on labs, and an interactive glossary with animations, audio, and video. The series replaces traditional textbooks, and will be used in all middle school science classes as well as many high school science courses. Each subject area includes a multimedia reference library that links key documents to people and places; interactive maps, digital explorations and activities; primary source documents; and informational text. The Discovery Education's Techbook series is designed to support multiple reading levels and languages, promote personalized learning via different pathways through content, enable project and inquiry-based learning, and enhance critical thinking. It includes detailed lesson plans and model lessons that facilitate the transition to digital resources. The programs also have an assessment component that measures students' progress and recommends individualized resources that reinforce classroom instruction. Constantly updated to reflect today's changing world, the series allows teachers to incorporate current issues and recent scientific breakthroughs into their curriculum.

Students at both the middle and high school levels have embraced the new Techbook learning tool in science classes across content areas, citing a number of positives regarding their experiences using the Techbook Science series thus far. Eighth graders in David Moore's Science class recently shared their thoughts on the Techbook tool. "I like the Techbook because if I have a question, we have all the information at our fingertips and we don't have to carry a textbook, just our computer," explained Nick Norman. "It is much easier to use and it has videos that help explain things better. I learn better by watching and listening, not just reading," noted Vanessa Xiques. "It helps more if you don't understand something - - it helps guide you visually and instead of trying to read one article or something in a book, there are multiple articles, videos and resources for us to use," added Quentin Collins.

High schoolers are also finding the Science Techbook tool to be a positive addition to the classroom, including those in Ken Fusco's Academic Biology class. During a recent lesson on Population Ecology, students were actively engaged in using the techbooks. Sophomore Naomi Vega was pleased with the ability to easily 'highlight' text for note taking, while classmate Jacob Newton emphasized the ability to research and access information more quickly and directly.

"This is a much anticipated and much needed addition to the set of digital instructional tools our teachers need and students deserve. Our faculty works extremely hard to engage students in their own learning, and Techbooks give them even more opportunity," noted Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Jeffrey Kitching.

-Posted on October 20, 2015 at 02:20 PM


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