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Teacher Tips for Using Discovering Alabama

Teacher Pointing at Map of WorldDiscovering Alabama began as an extension of actual field expeditions offering outdoor and natural science training for Alabama teachers.  Today teachers throughout the state use Discovering Alabama as a versatile resource supporting the whole development of students -€“ academically, personally, and as responsible citizens. Beyond showcasing Alabama’s outdoors, Discovering Alabama integrates content across the curriculum, connects learning to real world topics, and promotes environmental stewardship.  The series’ comfortable style provides students a rare window for tranquil pause and thoughtful reflection for the marvels of nature.

Below are tips and observations offered by Alabama teachers to optimize effective use of Discovering Alabama:

  • Arrange for Quality Viewing. A foremost value of Discovering Alabama is in providing cinematic enjoyment of Alabama’s natural wonders. In this respect the programs can be considered “€œmovies” (rather than simply DVDs/videos) and it is important to ensure that students have opportunities to enjoy “€œmovie viewing”€. This can be accomplished by arranging a special viewing area equipped with a large screen, a quality projector, and ample speakers so that students can better experience the natural scenes and sounds presented in the Discovering Alabama programs. If such special arrangements are not possible in your situation, try at least to provide a quiet room and a big-screen TV.

I want to tell you how impressed I am with the usability of your videos in the classroom. I am a new, first year teacher of Environmental Sciences. I have used your videos Cahaba River Watershed, Bear Creek Watershed, and Village Creek to supplement my lessons concerning non-point source pollution. The students enjoy the videos and they correlate with the causes of NPS Pollution very well . . . Your personality and manner of speaking are very appealing to my students.

A €”high school science teacher, Huntsville, AL 

  • View the Full Program. Discovering Alabama programs are best viewed in full feature because each program is a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending; useful in teaching conceptual thinking, critical thinking, comprehension, and composition, and often useful in drawing meaningful connections to literature and the arts.
  • Use Full Programs as Virtual Field Trips: While actual field trips are often beyond the means of limited school budgets, Discovering Alabama provides a readily available, cost effective series of virtual field trips.  Each program takes viewers on location for a virtual visit and exploration of natural areas in the state while also providing inspiration, adventure, and interdisciplinary content – a unique combination of educational values for Alabama schools.

We are proud to proclaim our school a “Discovering Alabama School.”  Discovering Alabama provides the perfect theme for the entire school year, helping us integrate content and also make learning locally relevant and interesting for students.  Your programs are a favorite resource for my teachers.

An€“ elementary school principal, Tuscaloosa

  • Make Use of the Discovering Alabama Teacher Guides (available for most DVD/video programs). These guides are teacher friendly, contain helpful activities and information for augmenting student learning, and can stimulate additional teaching ideas.
  • Obtain the Full Set of Discovering Alabama Programs. Even if you don’t plan to use every Discovering Alabama program, it is helpful to have the entire set of Discovering Alabama DVDs/videos as a reference source in developing activities and lesson plans. Often the school librarian can obtain a complete set. Sometimes, a parent or community member is pleased to provide the school with Discovering Alabama DVDs/videos.
  • Capitalize on Discovering Alabama’s Identity. Discovering Alabama’s wide public popularity can be advantageous for teachers who mention use of Discovering Alabama when encouraging parent involvement and when seeking support from other community or state sources.

I just wanted to share with you how much my fourth graders enjoy watching your videos. I ordered the entire collection several years ago. Keep up the good work! 

An €”elementary school teacher, Talladega. AL

 

  • Connect With Other Organizations and Agencies. Discovering Alabama DVDs/videos and Teacher Guides always highlight the positive works and educational materials of other organizations, and thus are a good means of finding out about such resources.
  • Use as a Reference Resource on Environmental Issues. Discovering Alabama can be a good reference source for teachers who want to further explore important environmental issues.  Discovering Alabama has been a leader in many efforts for environmental protection in Alabama. Teachers can be sure that Discovering Alabama program content is grounded in substantial knowledge and experience with environmental issues.

I appreciate all that Discovering Alabama does for Alabama, for environmental awareness, and for environmental education. You have reached more people in the general adult population with your programs and your very balanced message than anyone else in Alabama. That is a segment of the population that many of us struggle with how to reach with environmental education. Thank you for all that you do.

A €”university professor, Birmingham, AL

 

  • Use as a Reference Resource for Expanding School Environmental Programs. Discovering Alabama has been a leader in many advances for environmental education. Teachers can be sure that Discovering Alabama is based on substantial experience in the effective design and delivery of environmental education.
  • Arrange for Workshops and In-Service Trainings. Learn more about Discovering Alabama resources, teacher workshops, and in-service training opportunities by contacting Discovering Alabama at (205) 348-2039 or info@discoveringalabama.org.

Discovering Alabama reaches students in a way that few educational programs do. Each program captivates, teaches, and provides a springboard for further study in a variety of areas. Our teachers feel that students really do “€œdiscover Alabama.” 

A €”middle school teacher, Mobile, AL