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April 05, 2016

Table of Contents

Discovery Education Observes Earth Day with Virtual Expedition, New Digital Resources
SETDA Report Highlights Best Practices Around the Country for Driving Broadband Connectivity and Access for Students
ASCD and OverDrive Survey Finds Digital Content Used in 80% of Schools and Districts

Discovery Education Observes Earth Day with Virtual Expedition, New Digital Resources

Discovery Education is helping educators nationwide observe Earth Day with a variety of dynamic new resources supporting classroom lessons focused on marine science, biodiversity, conservation, and other critical science topics. These new learning tools, which have been reviewed by Discovery Education’s expert curriculum team and are aligned to state standards, have been added to Discovery Education’s website as well as its services, Discovery Education Streaming Plus and the Discovery Education Science Techbook.

Among the new resources available is an underwater expedition created in partnership with Ocean First Education. During this experience, students will study the biodiversity of the coral reefs of the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific Oceans, and learn how shifting land masses impacted the number and types of organisms in these regions. Appropriate for grades K-12, the expedition features interviews with Ocean First Education founder Graham Casden, director of science and research Caine Delacy, and director of curriculum development Catherine E. Christopher, who discuss marine ecology and biology, the effects of mankind and evolution on our oceans, and the role students can play in protecting the health of our ocean for future generations. It also features Ocean First Education video and photographs from underwater research dives around the world. This expedition, as well as grade-band specific classroom resources that can be integrated into instruction to support Earth Day-related lessons, is available to educators at no cost at

Educators using these resources will receive a free, 60-day trial of Discovery Education’s Science Techbook. In addition, on April 22, from 1:00 - 1:30 PM ET, Discovery Education and Ocean First Education will host a “Meet The Marine Experts” Twitter chat. Tune in to @DiscoveryEd on Twitter with the hashtag #EarthDay2016 for a live question and answer session with Ocean First Education’s team of experts.

Discovery Education has also added new digital resources supporting science instruction to its award-winning services. The following content has been added to the Discovery Education Science Techbook to support educators as they engage students in science topics as part of their Earth Day observances:

* Full Racing Extinction documentary – Discovery Channel’s Racing Extinction documentary examines the loss of biodiversity, and its effect on humanity, and solutions that inspire hope for a more sustainable future. Students will be inspired to think beyond the walls of their classroom to tackle some of our planet’s most critical issues. This content is suitable for use with students in grades 6-12.

* Rodney Raccoon Goes Green – Produced by Wayout Kids and Smith Show Entertainment, this content uses musical numbers and roundtable discussions to communicate ways to stay green, and helps students learn environmentally friendly habits. This content is suitable for use with students in grades K-5.

* Weather Things: Climate and Climate Change – This content, produced by Metstorm, examines the effects of natural and human-caused climate change, including a profile on carbon dioxide and the warming oceans. Students can learn how climate change is measured and ways to keep the earth in balance. This content is suitable for use with students in grades 6-8.

* Polar Bears International Virtual Field Trip – Produced by Discovery Education, this archived virtual field trip presents a discussion between a group of Arctic researchers about the disappearance of sea ice in the Arctic. Students will gain knowledge of the effect this phenomenon has on the polar bear population. This content is suitable for use with students in grades K-12.

In addition, new content from the following leading publishers and content providers is now available to Discovery Education Streaming Plus subscribers:

* Wilderness Productions: In 23 newly-added titles from Discovery Digital Network’s series Breaking Trail with Coyote Peterson, students will embark on a virtual journey through nature, bringing them up-close with wildlife in some of the most amazing environments throughout North America. Along the way, students will encounter everything from manatees to iguanas while learning more about the biological science behind their behavior and appearance along the way. This content is suitable for use with students in grades K-8.

* Bennett-Watt Entertainment: These 21 new titles from Discoveries America National Parks explore the National Park Service and the magnificent resources they protect. Students will be transported to some of the most famous locations across the United States and learn about the historical context behind these national monuments and memorials. This content is suitable for use with students in grades 3-12.

* FortunaPIX: In 28 fascinating 3D videos, abstract concepts are transformed into visually engaging learning experiences for students, exploring a variety of science topics including plants and seeds, geology, and the internal structure of Earth, among others. This content is suitable for use with students in grades 6-12.

Source: Discovery Education,

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SETDA Report Highlights Best Practices Around the Country for Driving Broadband Connectivity and Access for Students

SETDA and Common Sense Kids Action have released a new report, State K-12 Broadband Leadership: Driving Connectivity and Access. This report ( highlights the powerful impact of state leadership in driving critical policy decisions at the national and state level to support broadband networks, bandwidth capacity, and wifi implementation and home access for low-income families. Educators, policy makers and the private sector will benefit from organized and accessible information regarding states’ broadband and wifi implementation. The work includes examples of states providing leadership for effective and efficient broadband and wifi implementation and is organized into the following categories: K-12 Broadband and Wi-Fi Connectivity, State Leadership for Infrastructure, State Broadband Implementation Highlights and State Advocacy for Federal Support of Broadband.

SETDA and Common Sense have a track record for advocating for the importance of high-speed broadband access for students both in and outside of school to prepare today’s students for college and career and to compete in a global economy. In 2015, SETDA and Common Sense released the E-rate Modernization Toolkit to encourage states and districts to leverage the modernized E-rate program.

To learn more, register for the public webinar, Driving Connectivity and Access: State K-12 Broadband Leadership, Monday, April 11, 2016 3:00 PM ET (

Source: SETDA,

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ASCD and OverDrive Survey Finds Digital Content Used in 80% of Schools and Districts

Digital content use in schools is no longer a new frontier, with more than 80 percent of schools and districts now using some form of digital content in the classroom. The use of digital content – including eBooks, audiobooks and digital textbooks – is a growing part of the curriculum in the classroom. To learn more about this trend, ASCD and OverDrive conducted a proprietary research study, “Digital Content Goes to School: Trends in K-12 Classroom e-Learning,” with ASCD members as the study’s participants. Highlights will be presented at the 71st ASCD Annual Conference and Exhibit Show in Atlanta on April 2 and 3, and the full report is available for download at

Based on a survey of more than 2,000 administrators at the school or district level in the U.S., the study will help educators better understand the current state of digital content in the K-12 classroom and where it’s headed. Survey respondents report that digital content currently occupies about one-third of the instructional materials budget and the use of digital content continues to grow. Contributors to this growth include strategic planning (73 percent have a device strategy and 64 percent align their digital content plan with this strategy), recognized benefits (including the ability to deliver individualized instruction, allowing students to practice independently, and greater student attention/engagement), as well as movement toward 1:1 programs.

Of the 80 percent of respondents who report using digital content in their schools or districts, four out of 10 are using it as part of their curriculum.

Across the board, teachers most desire English/Language Arts (ELA) content in digital format (74 percent), followed by science (62 percent), math (61 percent) and social studies (56 percent). OverDrive has seen this trend develop firsthand as hundreds of schools across the country have increased integration by using popular digital content in a variety of innovative ways, including adopting digital novel sets for ELA classes this school year.

While virtually all respondents see benefits of using digital content, there are also some concerns. The two issues cited most often were equity concerns about lack of internet access at home and the fear of teachers not wanting to go digital, including teachers not comfortable or effective with digital learning. Administrators are in agreement that better results and faster growth will occur if teachers are also provided with appropriate professional learning to incorporate digital content into their curriculum.

Other highlights of the “Digital Content Goes to School” study:

  • Devices used for digital content: laptops (75 percent), tablets (62 percent), personal computers (49 percent), and smartphones (17 percent)

  • Funding sources

  • The research highlights differences among subgroups such as districts and schools, public and private, 1:1 programs and no 1:1, and size of schools/districts

As digital content continues to transform the classroom, the concept of a personalized, individualized model of schooling becomes more feasible, according to the report. Digital solutions that make technology elegantly simple for teachers and students will go a long way toward addressing concerns about the ultimate success of digital content in the classroom.

To get the full report, visit

Source: OverDrive,

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