Category Archives: Discovery

Posts about the Discovery Education Site

Halfway Point….

Yep halfway mark is here and it came quick. As I start to get ready to take a break my mind continues to race along to the next semester. How can I improve on last year’s presentations, notes, labs etc.. But I’m also in one of those reflection moods, what went right last semester? Wrong? Not everything was perfect I can tell you that. I think that’s what the halfway point is about, looking back and reflecting on what happened, while looking forward to the New Year.

Lots happened since the beginning of the year. I’ll be brief or try to anyway. I forgot to post about our Robotics Kickoff which was an experience. It took place at CISCO and it was the first time I attended one. They unveiled the field at the time. Which by the way was pretty unique. Check out the game below:

It’s called the FIRST Tech Challenge Season Game: Cascade Effect. And that’s what started the year off. By the way we are hosting the FTC Qualifying tournament again for North Carolina at Gibbons on January 17th. As we get close I will post more information.

Class on the other hand took on a different look. I implemented more “Flipped” material this year. I was lucky and had my choice, should I stick with Discovery or go to Google Classroom. If you don’t have a subscription or availability to Discovery I can understand not using this tool. Google Classroom would probably be better. But you need to have an education account for this, which means your school needs to have accounts. So both have certain requirements.

I found for my class I preferred Discovery for a couple of reasons. Ease of grading, Google Forms need add-ons to grade. And it can get complicated. I’ve put in the “suggestion” box for Google that they make this a bit easier for teachers. There are tons of video tutorials that help you work with the add-ons like Flubaroo, Octopus and Goobric. All can be integrated with Google Classroom.  Not saying these tools aren’t great, because they are. A colleague of mine, loves them and has really utilized them in her physics classroom. Actually she has become quite the Google Guru. But I really haven’t had a chance to try these. I’m more of a Discovery person. Now that might change if the school decides to just go with Google. So eventually I’ll have to get better at it.

But for now I’ll talk about Discovery and leave Google for a later date. I used a couple of features in Discovery this year that really helped with the Flipped material. One was embedding the video in an assessment and having students answer questions on it. This worked great because it actually told me who watched the video. But one of the best things I came to find most useful was the Mastery graph and the ability to go over questions. The mastery graph was really helpful, especially on assessments.


The great thing about this is it is generated by discovery for all your concept assessments. You can see specifics when viewing the assessment report.


Again all generated by Discovery. One reason why I use it for my flipped material and other material. A bit easier than Google, I think any way. If you have the opportunity to try it I would. I believe you can utilize this even with a free subscription. You don’t need a paid subscription.

So those are the main reasons why I haven’t switched to Google like others. There are probably ways to do it in Google and trust me I’m going to find out when I have a chance. Not a bad idea to have another way of doing things just in case.

Well holidays are a welcome sight this year. I’ll be playing catch up. Trying to get ahead a bit. That would be nice for once. J

Summer Action begins

So the year is finally over, grades in and room cleaned. We have a ton of new teachers coming on board so its going to be a really different school year next year. Meanwhile, the summer is starting and I’m looking forward to the beginning. The month of June is when all the action is occurring for me.  I first am off to New York my hometown to visit my old school Saint Anthony’s. An awesome school and I’m hoping to find out what they have been doing on the science front. I know they are building new labs so I can’t wait to talk to everyone. I taught at Saint Anthony’s during the early 90’s before moving to Cardinal Gibbons High School. Both are great schools by the way. Common theme the Franciscan Brothers. The other place I would love to visit and hope I get a chance is the World Trade Center Building. I was there a month after the 911 attack, would love to see the new building. Many people in our area lost their lives that day, would love to pay my respects.


After New York I come home and two days later I head to Cleveland Ohio and the Glen Research Center for NASA. I got the NES(NASA Explorers School)  teacher recognition trip this year. So I’m a bit exited since I have never been to this NASA center. Can’t wait. Also meeting up with 3 or 4 teachers I’ve been on PD opportunities with before. Plan on doing some reconnecting with everyone.  Hopefully I’ll be blogging each day about what we are doing. Never been to Ohio as a matter of fact and can’t wait. Once I finish this I then head straight to Atlanta, Georgia for the ISTE 2014 conference.  Now this is going to be amazing, I’ve looked at the convention center and all the presentations, what do you go to first??? I mean here is an example of the exhibitor floor plan. Amazing, I’ll be spending a ton of time in the exhibitor hall.  There’s over a 1,000 presentations going on. I’m just now sifting through to find things I would like to go to. They even have app for the iPhone and android for the conference. This should be interesting to find out about new technology and how tech is being used by other teachers in the classroom. Fits right in with my revamping of the curriculum. Might come away with some good ideas. I’ll keep everyone posted.

So, New York, Cleveland and Atlanta, all in June. And I thought this summer would be quiet, who knew. In July I hope to redo my curriculum using different strategies for different topics. I would like to implement a PBL for minerals and rocks. I think I need to do a better job presenting this topic. I’ve already decided to do a group project on local rivers and streams. Other ideas include coding and littlebits. So yeah many things to think about as the summer moves along. Thumbs up

BC # 4 …CGHS Science Festival

So I promised in one of my other blog entries that I would talk about our upcoming science festival. A 3 hour night that everyone in the Science department is taking part in. The idea came to me about a year ago and I proposed it to our department. I had read about other schools holding a STEM event for their community and thought this might be something good for our community. Well guess what? It worked and now we are hosting our first science festival at Cardinal Gibbons High School. 



Getting everyone on board was easy, communication was the hardest part. Getting the word out to middles schools and middle school teachers was a hard job. I think this year we are just relying on word of mouth and then next year we hope to expand our communication.  So I would advise anyone who is going to do this make sure you establish a line of communication with your middle school teachers.  We hope to have a signup for future notifications at the event.

Our second hurdle was when to hold it. January seemed the best with all the other events occurring at school. So we decided on January 13th a Monday.  Now we needed to decide on a time. Hoping to draw more people we scheduled the event from 5-8 pm.  What impressed me the most was the support of my administration and colleagues. Very important if you are to succeed in doing this type of planning.

I can’t thank my colleagues for coming through with some awesome STEM activities.  See the schedule below. Plus visitors will be able to meet our Science Olympiad and Robotics teams.

“Belly Button Biodiversity” presentation by NC State graduate students — Main Theater from 5:30 – 6:15 pm and again from 6:30 – 7:15 pm

Belly buttons fascinate us all.  Ever wonder what microbes may be living inside your belly button?  The Belly Button Biodiversity Project is currently researching this unique biome.   Come and learn more about how this collection of organisms on our skin forms our first line of defense against pathogens.

Stargazing on the Piazza

Have you always wanted to gaze into the night sky through a telescope?  Maybe you really are an astronomer at heart.   What is special about the night sky on January 13, 2014?  Stop by and bring your eye up to the lens to view our solar system and beyond.

Science Olympiad – Auxiliary Gym

Introduce yourself to our medal winning Science Olympiad team and see how they are preparing for their upcoming regional competition – from elastic launched gliders to bottle rockets to boomilevers to forensic science to Duck® tape structures to …

ROBOTICS – room 120

Come and meet the Gibbons Robotics team — the Purple Gears, and see their latest robotic designs perform specific tasks as they ready for the upcoming FIRST Tech Challenge.  In the past five years the team has developed novel solutions to earn one published patent application and two pending submissions.     

The Strawberry Genome Project – rooms 219 and 221

All living things, including the food you eat, have DNA – the genetic code.  In this 20 minute laboratory experience you will extract visible DNA strands from the cells of a strawberry and find out what it means to be OCTOPLOID!  Delicious!

Olympic Broomball – room 223

It may not be ice hockey or officially the sport of curling, but you can challenge yourself employing the laws of physics, and record the fastest time by chasing a bowling bowl along a bordered course with only a broom!

NASA – A STEM Activity Area – room 225

What’s the buzz about STEM?  Find out why you have the “right stuff” to be an engineer, a scientist, or mathematician in the 21st century.  Engage yourself in a variety of STEM activities from rockets to rovers.  You can even try landing the Mars rover, “Curiosity” using Xbox.  Innovators unite!

Dazzling Demos in Chemistry – rooms 227 and 228

  • See the Miracle – turn water into wine!!
  • Get excited by watching “excited electrons” produce light.  Chemiluminescence – is this what happens in a firefly?
  • Old Faithful has nothing on Old Foamey – come check it out!
  • Shake it Up!!  Come and jiggle the flask and make it turn the colors of a stoplight!

Who knows what else?  Chemistry holds “the element” of surprise!

The Unnoticed World – room 229

Come and meet – up close and personal, some of the most common insects and discover nature’s remarkable beauty. Visitors participate in caterpillar and termite races and win a prize

Concessions – CGHS Café

Fuel your science brain and give it a rest with a snack or two from the concessions.

check the website for a map

I have to thank Joleen Smith for this wonderful write up she is amazing when it comes to this type of job. There are a lot people working on this event, and that is what you need when doing something like this. It can get overwhelming if you don’t have the help you need. Now we wait and see, if 20 people show up I think it’s a success because it’s a start. Once we get our foundation we can build on it next year. I do have to mention here that the parents have been awesome. They have given us a great deal of support and are volunteering to help in any way possible. A special thanks  to them.  Also a special thanks to all my colleagues taking the time out of their to schedule to do this event.

BC 1, 2 and 3..Blog Challenge

I’m a bit behind with the blog posts for the BC 20 Challenge. But I have an excuse I just joined yesterday. So I’m going to combine all three for today. Right here it goes…

For my first Blog entry I would have talked a bit more about our new #edugood Project. An awesome project that I worked with last year and now we starting a whole new year. Each day has a different word or phrase. Using your imagination and a bit of creativity you take a picture that you think represents that word or phrase. Currently there is a twitter account you can follow @Edugood365 and a Flickr account where everyone is posting their pictures. After one year we had about 3,000 pictures. What an awesome project. One good thing this project has made me do is to stop and take a break from all the hectic things happening around me. Its also is real fun. In another part of my blog you can see my Grand Finale picture for 2013. Try it you might like it.

Second on my list is the #DENchat we had the other night. It was great! The number of people who participate was amazing and the ideas that were flowing were great. In a matter of an hour I obtained new ideas for my flipped classroom and new tech tools. Recently I had the opportunity to use Thinklink for our upcoming science festival. Definitely a blog entry for the future. PNaugle showed me how she used it in class. You can find her blog entry #4  addressing the topic. Some really cool ideas for the classroom. Here is my use of it for our science festival. Looks like edtech tool you can use in the classroom for projects. I’ll have to think about this a bit.

Third entry I would have discussed is twitter and how it has really enhanced my PLN. I’ve found more teachers on twitter than any where else. The collaboration is awesome and if you haven’t already joined twitter I would advise you do so. Not to just tweet. Because many people don’t have the time or desire to tweet all the time. Plus I understand it can be scary. But just joining the educational chats can be rewarding. I know #Denchat has become very popular. I’m not saying it’s the total answer to developing your PLN, but it helps and the ideas you can gather from other teachers attending these chats is amazing. Actually there are tons of other chats happening about education. Check out this article about the topic. If twitter is not your thing, then join something Edutopia or DEN (Discovery Educators Network). I’ve found they can really give you some great information.

Okay short and sweet. Thanks to Kelly Hines for sending the challenge out about blogging. Great idea!

Board Builder Revisited

Well the project is finished and I am happy to say the students enjoyed the use of the Board Builder in the Discovery Ed. The boards were simple but visual pleasing. Students used the boards to visually outline their Alternative Energy Projects. When talking to some of the students about the Board Builders, they commented that it seemed easier to use then other programs.

board example

However, there were some problems when saving the boards. If the internet connection had any problems some students lost their work unless they saved the project a couple of times. We found this out at the beginning of the project, so I reminded students to save often. Otherwise students liked the way you could upload certain types of documents, bibliographies to be specific. Another positive to the web tool was that students could search Discovery for any videos or photos they would like to use in the project. So the good points, it’s free compared to Glogster, pictures and video are readily available on discovery, and attachments can be added to the board.


The bad points, if your internet connection is not good you will have problems, I found out at school when my students accessed the internet at the busiest time of the day, the connections did not work correctly.  Also if you have problems with flash or Java, this could cause you problems. There were times my students would try to save and couldn’t. There are Pros and Cons to the tool; but overall the tool can be used for other projects. One of the other digital tools I used in combination with this project was Google Presentations. Instead of having students doing a two page paper as years past, I asked them to do a Google Presentation. This allowed them a bit of a leeway with their write up.  I like Google Drive and apps, I’ve been using them a great deal this year. Thanks to other teachers at school, (@CGHSMrsCole and @Melks_Physics) we have come up with many ways to use these teaching tools in class.

What I would advise to everyone is to try the Board Builder. If you have a Discovery subscription all you students can access it and its components. Even if you school does not subscribe to Discovery, as a Teacher you can use it as presentations in class. Try it you might like it. Open-mouthed smile

Thanksgiving…Board Builder

As we entered the Thanksgiving week, work had slowed down enough to start thinking about another blog entry. After Discovery VirtCon ideas were floating around in my mind for different activities in the classroom.  I was especially thinking about how to use the new Board Builder in Discovery.

What I came up with is a project we had completed last year but now I added the Board Builder to the requirements. I’ve already discussed the project “Alternative Energies” in prior entries. Using the same basic outline I had students researching different sources of energy. In some classes I had students also introducing efficiency, conservation and climate change. I included these topics because I wanted students to get the “Whole” story on alternative energy.  The project outline included: questions about their energy, advantages and disadvantages, and the energy’s connection to North Carolina. I wanted students to become informed citizens of NC, know what was happening in their state. (NC State Standards)

Students were required to do all their work in a Google Presentation. This could easily be shared with their partners and me. I’m definitely becoming a fan of Google. One of my goals for this project was to create a paperless project.  Using the Board Builder and Google were the two tools I picked for this project.

Board Builder is a tool Discovery Education recently added to the builder tools section.

Builder Tools

Similar to Glogster the Board Builder can be used instead of posters. I’ve been waiting for an alternative to Glogster. I did enjoy it when I used it, but to pay for the service was not worth it for my situation, since I really didn’t use it on a regular basis.  The Board Builder is a free tool to Teachers who sign up for Discovery. Perfect!

The tool offers Templates students can start with and then change to suit their topics.


After the project I’m hoping to be able to share some of the best boards my students created. What I like about the Boards is you can add attachments, this is great for Bibliographies and Resources.  A great Teaching Tool and I can’t wait to use this in other projects and assignments. For ideas about how to use the Boards take a look at Chad Lehman’s 50 Ways to Use Board Builder.

Sample Board

SOS: Connect The Dots – DEN Blog Network

SOS: Connect The Dots – DEN Blog Network. Two posts in one day.. What is the world coming to. 🙂 Great idea from Ginny Washburne on DEN. I think this would be a great warm-up to a topic. Could be used to find out what the students know?

Discovery Fall VirtCon 2013

The morning is over with and now we are taking a break from all the information we are absorbing. It has been a great morning here at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Teachers from different Diocesan Schools are attending our F2F event. Collaboration is the word of the day.


Two rooms are going, so everyone can enjoy presentations. Steve Dembo prepared us for the day with some trivia and prizes. Great start.

The 9 am presentation was given by Troy Hicks a English professor from Michigan University. He teaches classes to help students integrate technology and writing in their education. He used his book Crafting Digital Writing as a resource for his talk. His wiki website  is a companion website to his book. It contains different resources and links for chapters in his book.  He discusses the five types of digital writing; Web-based texts, Presentations, Audio texts, Video texts and Social media. During his talk he presents different components of craft, discussing each one and giving examples of each. Very informative and helpful to implementing Common Core. I would recommend people watch his talk if they are interested in getting ideas for using technology for writing.

At 10 am we split into two groups, one group watched the session on “One Session, Four Lessons: Meeting Individual Needs in a Science Classroom”. Michael Bryant did an awesome job explaining different components of the Science Techbook for all grade levels. The other group watched the “Back-to-School with Discovery and some new Techniques and Tools” with Rita Morenson.  Definitely a hit among our elementary and middle school teachers. I had the opportunity to see Ms. Morenson on a Google Hangout about the uses of Google Hangout.  She posted her presentation on a google drive to share with everyone. I will tell you this presentation had tons of tools for technology. Our teachers were especially loving the QR codes section. Also the coLar App became the hit of the day. We printed out different pictures and tested our phones. Amazing what technology can do.

11 am brought another session of techbook and “Free & Easy Ways to Wow Your Students and Parents” . I hate to admit this but some of us continued to work with the tools Rita Morenson shared. Others tried to concentrate on the next sessions.  Heidi Morgan did an awesome job introducing Blogger and The App Builder. And again QR Codes were a big hit. Ms. Morgan posted her presentation on a google document.

After lunch we came back and joined the next 1 pm session.  Again our one room hosted the sessions on techbooks, with Brad Fountain. The other session was Full S.T.E.A.M. ahead  with David Fisher. Simple tools were introduced such as Smart Recorder and Quick Voice, both apps you can use on your smartphone to record various content.  Today’s Meet is another tool you can use in class for class conversation and discussion on topics. Tons of other tools were introduced during this session. If you missed any of the archived presentations you can access them at

I think I’ll end here and watch the next few sessions with everyone. The day is almost at an end and so far we have excited and thankful teachers for all the information shared today.

DEN Fall VirtCon

DEN Fall VirtCon.  Another VirtCon is upon us and yes Cardinal Gibbons High School is hosting a F2F (Face to Face) event.

Looks to be like an awesome day again, collaborating and getting new ideas for the classroom. If you are in the Raleigh area, feel free to

register for the event at Cardinal Gibbons. We will have breakfast, Lunch and prizes.  Remember this is not only for Science, this crosses the curriculum.

Awesome resource for Elementary and Middle School. High School teachers can also benefit, I change the lessons to suit my grade level. But one of my favorites about this day is the new technology tools I learn about.

RALEIGH: Cardinal Gibbons science teacher brings research experience to classroom | Raleigh |

RALEIGH: Cardinal Gibbons science teacher brings research experience to classroom | Raleigh | It’s amazing that this occurred a month ago. I’m still trying digest what I did this summer. I already started showing the students my experiences.