Accelerating Digital Conversion Districtwide in Utah’s Wasatch County Schools
Utah’s Wasatch County School District (WCSD) today announced the launch of a new partnership with Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms. Through this new collaboration, Discovery Education’s dynamic digital content and powerful professional development resources will accelerate WCSD’s districtwide five-year digital conversion.
WCSD is committed to ensuring all students learn at high academic levels and function effectively in society as productive, caring, and responsible citizens. To achieve this goal, WCSD is converting the district’s classrooms into dynamic digital learning environments through a five-year 1-to-1 initiative that is bringing Lenovo ThinkPads and interactive whiteboards into every classroom. To grow student engagement in teaching and learning and speed up this conversion, WCSD teachers will now be empowered to integrate Discovery Education’s award-winning content services and digital textbooks into classroom instruction. In addition, Discovery Education will help WCSD’s educators evolve their teaching practice through sustained, job-embedded professional development that helps them become facilitators of student-centered learning experiences.
This new initiative was kicked-off during the district’s 4th Annual Wasatch Back Digital Learning Conference, which was held August 16-17. During this conference, which brought together educators from 10 neighboring districts to improve practice and drive digital conversions, district educators began to familiarize themselves with Discovery Education’s Streaming Plus service, which will be used by teachers and students districtwide in the coming year.
Discovery Education Streaming Plus is a comprehensive digital service supplementing instruction across all K-12 curricular areas that help build students’ mastery in interpreting, understanding, and evaluating information across all subject areas. Students can access a variety of digital assets including images, primary source documents, podcasts, oral interviews, books on tape, articles, videos, and more, then are empowered to become content creators with a suite of content creation tools that help teachers and students safely and easily collaborate in real-time on virtual projects. Teacher resources include lesson plans, instructional strategies, and content collections organized around themes, as well as a collection of new STEM resources designed to fuel a cultural shift in teaching and learning.
Also during the Wasatch Back Digital Learning Conference, WCSD social studies teachers in grades 6 and 8 and 9 through 11 learned about the capabilities of the new Social Studies Techbook they will begin using this school year, and district educators teaching grades 3-12 explored how to use the Science Techbook to ignite students’ interest in the natural world.
Discovery Education’s Techbooks are breakthrough digital textbooks that are aligned to rigorous standards, support a comprehensive curriculum, and are updated regularly at no cost. The series encourages all learners through interactive features that change the reading level of text and enable text to be read aloud. The Techbook series saves teachers’ time with a comprehensive design that places model lessons, student activities and assessments at their fingertips. Techbooks are platform neutral and can be used in one-to-one or one-to-many configurations and in any instructional environment.
The Social Studies Techbook series uses an inquiry-based instructional approach that emphasizes informational text literacy, analytical writing, and problem-solving skills that students will apply in the classroom and beyond. Each subject area includes primary source documents and activities, digital investigations, multimedia reference library, interactive maps, and more.
Utilizing an inquiry-based format built on the 5E model, Discovery Education’s Science Techbook helps teach students to read, write, and think like scientists through hands-on labs, digital explorations, an interactive glossary, and data analysis activities. In addition, a host of new STEM/STEAM resources have recently been added to the Science Techbook that encourage students to connect math, technology, and engineering to their understanding of science concepts to produce creative solutions to real world problems.
“Wasatch County School District is keenly focused on deepening our culture of excellence across the school system,” said Paul Sweat, WCSD’s Superintendent. “Our new partnership with Discovery Education will help us meet that goal and supports our efforts to accelerate and scale our districtwide digital conversion.”
Discovery Education will also conduct sustained professional development for educators across WCSD. This immersive professional development, provided by Discovery Education’s expert faculty, will help district educators evolve their teaching practice to better meet the needs of today’s learners and effectively use their new digital resources in the classroom. The Discovery Education Community will also support the WCSD’s educators’ efforts to transform students’ learning experiences with dynamic digital media. A global community of education professionals, the Discovery Education Community connects members across school systems and around the world through social media, virtual conferences, and in-person events, fostering valuable networking, idea sharing and inspiration.
“Discovery Education is pleased to add to the growing momentum of Wasatch County School District’s digital conversion,” said Jason Barnes, Discovery Education’s Education Partnerships Vice President. “We look forward to working with teachers and administrators across the school system to create dynamic digital classrooms that will engage students and grow academic achievement.”