Saturday, January 22, 2011

Real Students, Real Teachers, Real Results: Implementing Discovery Education Science: DEN SCIcon with Dr. Cindy Moss

Cindy Moss, Director of Science and Math, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, is our West Coast Keynote. Her dissertation looked at factors in the learning environment that lead to improved learning. Her answer: collaboration, inquiry-based learning, and a supportive teacher. Her intervention students were at-risk students who had failed at least 2 classes and had absenteeism issues. Moss's task: create a learning environment that would provide success for these students.

Learned lesson: students needed a risk-free environment where students could take a role in their learning. They also needed parent/guardian support for the intervention to work. Moss wrote a grant for her 90 identified students, and engame: 87% of the students graduated college and many of them went into STEM. For her efforts, her students "made it" because she knew what they needed via help for success. The essential question is how can we empower suburban students at risk to achieve success in science.

If you want to create an intervention program and help teachers change how they work with at-risk students, teachers need 80 hour threshold of professional development in a two-to-three year timeline. There is just not enough time to make the changes, but technology is a critical piece. And here's the aha moment: Moss used Discovery Education. It was the quickest thing to a silver bullet she could find for her teachers and students. "It's the highest quality I've ever seen." It's engaging, has online resources, has the power of media and this is how our kids think, so it's the way we should teach. She cites that the videos and clips show relevant real-world learning. Moss has a team of students who work as experts who help the teachers in the classroom. She cites how empowering this experience is for students.

Moss began with Title 1 monies and so the high-risk schools with students who needed help was where she began with DE. But the clamor from all her schools began quickly. Her concern: would DE = less hands-on activities? Absolutely not. Now 109 schools notice that the more Discovery Education is used, the more inquiry-based learning goes on the the classroom. Their science state scores have risen 20 points. That may not be the bottom line, but it is for using and keeping DE as a learning and teaching tool. Students are feeling confident, beginning to appy for honors classes, and are choosing science as a career.

It's been a win-win situation. Her district uses Discovery Education at all 109 teacher training sessions, have created a wiki for DE resources and uses, and implement them for before-and-after school programs. Across the board, teachers and students are using Discovery Education, and students are driving teacher behavior changes. Giving students the confidence to choose honors and AP courses in science is so important. The skills the students are learning are coming for DE. It works for 140,000 students from a wide diversity with 32 languages. No matter where the students come from, DE is increasing their learning and literacy.

Biggest changes with the classrooms: students and teachers have better expectations. Moss is going to Thailand to help them with education, and she is taking DE with her.

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