New Reviews: Discovery Education’s Social Studies

[Source: Discovery]
[Source: Discovery Education]
Discovery Education’s Social Studies Techbooks are comprehensive, web-based social studies courses for middle school and high school students. Courses include World Geography and Cultures and United States History (Prehistory to Reconstruction) at the middle school level and United States History (Civil War to Present) at the high school level. Each course includes high-quality and engaging content provided by the Discovery Channel and MacNeil/Lehrer Productions. Course resources support instruction in flipped classrooms and blended learning environments.

Discovery Education's Social Studies Video Overview [Source: Discovery]
Discovery Education’s Social Studies Video Overview [Source: Discovery Education]
Each course is inquiry-based and emphasizes the development of critical thinking and literacy skills, particularly skills in reading informational texts. Lessons focus on answering “essential questions” and are organized using the 5E Instructional Model (i.e., Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate). Core content is presented in Core Interactive Text (CIT) that includes photographs, illustrations, and multimedia features, such as interactive maps and embedded videos. Each CIT ends with discussion questions and checks for understanding. CITs, which may be printed, are available in Spanish and in two Lexile-based reading levels for students at or below grade-level. A brief video overview is available here.

Elaborate activities require that students use social studies and critical thinking skills to develop products, such an argument for a debate, a presentation to Congress, or an analysis of a primary source document. Some Elaborate activities are presented in slide shows in which students investigate concepts using interactive tools (e.g., maps, timelines). Activities include printable guides for both teachers and students.

Discovery Education’s “Board Builder” tool encourages students to take ownership of learning through the process of creating and sharing their own content. Using the Board Builder platform, students can create personalized “boards” that incorporate their own text, videos, and photos, as well as editable video and audio files from Discovery Education. Once approved by teachers, student boards may be shared with classmates or the larger community of Discovery Education users. Other resources include “Global Wrap” video summaries of the week’s most important new stories and an interactive atlas that displays a variety of data (e.g., population density, landforms) at the regional or global levels.

Teacher resources for each lesson include links to relevant standards, learning objectives, and “Model Lessons.” Model lessons map a multi-day, 5E lesson cycle with suggested pacing and provide step-by-step guidance in implementing each activity. A companion teacher guide for the course is available in print format. Discovery Education’s Teacher Center provides additional resources, including interactive investigations, graphic organizers, outline maps, and additional video clips to support instruction.

About Discovery Education: “Discovery Education offers a breadth and depth of digital media content that is immersive, engaging and brings the world into the classroom to give every student a chance to experience fascinating people, places, and events. All content is aligned to state standards, can be aligned to custom curriculum, and supports classroom instruction regardless of the technology platform.” [Source: Discovery Education]

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