5 Easy Tools to Use Twig Science in Any Delivery Model!

From the start, we designed Twig Science to be a pleasure to use, from its clear, colorful design to the straightforward navigation between lessons. There are lots of cool features that help to make the Twig Science experience feel streamlined and effortless, and we’re adding more all the time—many at the request of teachers using Twig Science right now.

Here are some you may not know about…

1. Digital Twig Book

One of the Twig Science features we’re most proud of is the Digital Twig Book. This allows students to fill in answers directly into their own personal workbooks on their computers or tablets. You can view any of your students’ individual Digital Twig Books to see their work, and you also have a version of your own—called “My Copy”—which you can add your own notes and answers to.

These features mean that the Digital Twig Book can be used as a streamlined, all-in-one version of the program. You can even teach straight from it. Alternatively, combined with the great new Distance Learning features described below, the Digital Twig Book makes a flexible independent study tool.

Accessing the Digital Twig Book couldn’t be easier. In any lesson, click on “Twig Book” and select “Digital.”

Find out more about sharing Digital Twig Book lessons with your class by clicking here.

2. Distance Learning

Many of the distance learning resources that have been available to teachers up to now were stopgap solutions. They help teachers manage in these unprecedented times, but they’re no replacement for in-class instruction. The new Twig Science Distance Learning, however, is a high-quality, standards-based program unlike anything you’ve seen before. Two of the key features that finally make it possible to achieve through distance learning a quality and depth of instruction equivalent to the classroom experience are virtual coach and hands-on science lab videos. 

The virtual coaches appear in bite-sized studio-quality coaching videos, presented by experienced teachers who lead students through each lesson, encouraging participation and engagement.

Hands-on science lab videos allow students to take part in experiments from home, to support the teaching of hands-on science.

See the Twig Science virtual coach and hands-on labs in action here

3. Presentation View

Twig Science features a fantastic way to control all the events and assets that make up a lesson in one easy-to-use view—it’s called Presentation View. This feature can be used in a classroom or via distance learning through screen sharing, and it gives you a way of presenting assets to your students so that they have maximum visual impact. There’s no clutter—the students see what they need to see and nothing way. It gives you an easy way to navigate through all digital assets that belong to a lesson, enabling you to teach the lesson quickly without needing to wade through instructions.

Presenting a Twig Science lesson is really straightforward. Simply navigate to the lesson you want to teach, then click the “Present Lesson” button:

Alternatively, click the “Present” button on any asset thumbnail:

To learn more about presenting lessons in Twig Science, click here.

4. Accessibility Features

The accessibility panel provides many features, such as a screen reader and font adjustment controls, to provide a great user experience for all.

These features can be turned on by clicking the accessibility button on the bottom left-hand side of the screen.

A pop up panel will appear, giving you access to a screen reader and the ability to change many aspects of the site.

Read more about Twig Science accessibility features—click here.

5. Lesson Pinning

The Teacher Dashboard in Twig Science is a really helpful tool that lets you quickly access important tools and resources. It’s easy to add lessons to your dashboard, allowing you to navigate straight to lessons and assessment for each class. 

You can pin a lesson directly to your dashboard by clicking the pin icon. When you click the pin you will be able to select the class you wish to save the lesson for:

The lesson will now we available under My Lessons in the Teacher Dashboard:

For more on adding lessons to the Teacher Dashboard, click here.

To implement Twig Science’s range of ease-of-use tools in your school or district, get in touch today.

CARES Act Funding for High-Quality Distance Learning

You’ve likely heard about the emergency relief fund created by the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This provides a total of $2 trillion emergency funding to mitigate the economic and public health consequences of COVID-19.

Part of this funding will enable K–12 schools to deal with issues brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic—around $13.2 billion in funding has been specifically allocated to Grades K–12. This funding will help districts to negotiate the challenges associated with the switch to long-term distance learning. 

Details of state allocation for this funding can be viewed here. The funding will be distributed to Districts according to their Title I allocation. There is a wide range of purposes towards which these funds can be put to use. However, in terms of education technology, these are some of the main intended uses:

  • Managing and coordinating long-term remote learning, including ensuring all students have the resources they need to receive virtual instruction
  • Addressing the needs of at-risk students, including English Learners, students with special needs, ethnic minority students, etc.
  • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and programs) to facilitate regular, substantive interaction between instructors and students
  • Purchasing assistive technology or adaptive equipment for students with disabilities

Currently, no funding has been distributed. The US Department of Education has 30 days to respond to applications for funds, which must be spent by September 30, 2021, or returned to the federal government. 

Any funding your district or school receives can be applied towards a comprehensive distance learning solution such as Twig Science Next Gen Distance Learning. The advantage of a high-quality, standards-based program like Twig Science Next Gen Distance Learning is that it goes way beyond some of the stopgap, supplemental options that teachers had to rely on in the initial period of remote instruction. It’s finally possible to achieve through distance learning a quality and depth of instruction equivalent to the classroom experience. Key features include:

  • Rich, high-quality videos, visuals, and interactives for genuine engagement away from the classroom
  • Comprehensive coverage of 3-D science standards
  • Cross-curricular applications: Arts, Math, ELA
  • Opportunities to differentiate for ELL, SPED, on-level, and advanced students
  • On-demand lessons with a virtual coach

To discuss how Twig Science Next Gen Distance Learning can help you make great use of CARES Act funding—or to request a live demonstration or educator referral—get in touch today

Meet the Scientists in Twig Science Leveled Readers

Students get excited about science careers when they understand that scientists are regular people just like them. Throughout Twig Science, we’ve included relatable real-life scientists to inspire students. In fact, every Twig Science leveled reader features an interview with a real-world scientist, in which they talk about what they do, how they got started, how their work makes a difference, and the cool tools they use. Here are just a few of the scientists we meet in Twig Science leveled readers…

Note: The scientists’ answers are edited to match grade level and reading level. Each leveled reader is available at four levels (Above-Level, On-Level, Below-Level, and English Learner). These interview excerpts are from On-Level readers

Kindergarten: Pushes and Pulls
Dr. Vijay Tymms, Physicist

How did you become interested in science?
I read about planets. They go around the Sun. In big circles! I wanted to know why.

What advice do you have for kids?
Ask questions. But don’t stop at the answers. Keep asking questions!

What tools do you use?
I don’t need many tools. A pencil and paper. A computer. That’s it.

Grade 1: Day and Night
Susan Murabana, Astronomer

What do you do?
I live in Kenya. I go into schools. I let kids look through my telescope. They get to see the planets and stars. It gets kids excited about space. It’s amazing!

Grade 1: Day and Night
Dr. Greg Mosby, Astronomer

Where do you work?
I work mostly in an office. Or a lab. I also go to the mountains. It is very dark. I use big telescopes there.

How did you become interested in stars?
I wanted to do many jobs as a kid. Inventor. Writer. Roller-coaster builder. Then I met some scientists. I learned about planets and stars. I wanted to know more. Now I can!

Grade 2: What Is It Made Of?
Dr. Young-hye Na, Materials Scientist

What do you do?
I lead a team of people. We are creating new materials for a high-powered battery. It will be used in electric cars and cell phones. It can be used in laptops and toys too.

How will your work make a difference?
Our battery will have more power than the ones we use now. It will last longer. Electric cars will travel farther. That will help keep our air clean. Cell phones, laptops, and toys will run a lot longer too.

Grade 4: Shake, Rattle, and Roll
Dr. Rebecca Bell, Seismologist

What does a seismologist do?
We are like detectives. We look for clues about the past in rocks. We study seismic waves. We do experiments and examine data to discover the source, size, and cause of seismic waves. They cause earthquakes.

Is your job dangerous?
We often travel to places that experience big earthquakes and tsunamis to learn more about them. So in this way, maybe the job is a little dangerous. However, many millions of people all over the world live in areas at risk of earthquakes and tsunamis. To conduct experiments we sometimes drive to remote areas in off-road vehicles. Then we dig holes to deploy seismometers, which are powered by large batteries of solar panels. And when we work in areas that are very hot or cold there are some risks.

Grade 6: Biomes
Dr. Samraat Pawar, Ecologist

What does an ecologist do?
Ecologists study the interrelationships between the environment and living organisms. They look at how the environment affects animals and plants. They observe the ways that plants and animals, in turn, affect the environment.

What do you like about your job?
I love the fact that I can tackle important problems in ecology that affect all of us. I have complete freedom to tackle them using my biological understanding, scientific imagination, and modeling skills. Of course, this is in collaboration with many other colleagues.
Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
I use my scientific imagination to build models of ecosystems. I use my biological knowledge or understanding to keep them as realistic as possible. I then use my computer programming and mathematical skills to extract predictions from these models. The predictions tell me how ecosystems will respond to changing environments.

Twig Science leveled readers give students the opportunity to explore ideas in greater depth at their own pace while meeting real-world scientists and engineers. To learn more, click here.

To Our Twig Community: Black Lives Matter

All of us at Twig Education are appalled and saddened by the recent brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other African-Americans. The activism and community responses to these horrific events have moved us to look within, both as individuals and as a company, to see how we can continue to contribute to our African-American community.

We are committed to supporting a rich and diverse community of students, educators, and parents all across the US. We firmly believe that education changes lives, both on individual and systemic levels. Our STEM programs are journeys of discovery, not only of the natural world, but also ourselves and those we share this planet with, underpinned by values that include mutual respect and the importance of equity in learning.

We openly acknowledge that, in partnership with school districts, we can provide more culturally relevant opportunities for our students of color to access equitable learning outcomes. For example, we commit to support STEM summer schools serving communities traditionally underrepresented in science through the provision of free resources and training.

Twig Education stands in solidarity with the Black community. As we move forward, we will identify more ways we can respect and reflect the diversity of our entire community. Stay tuned as we go on this journey…

Catherine Cahn

Flipping the Classroom with Twig Science Tools

Struggling to effectively use your time during distance learning? Flipping the classroom can help you to get the most out of your distance learning time. But what is the flipped classroom, and how do you get started during distance learning? 

What is the flipped classroom?

To put it very simply, this pedagogical approach flips homework and classroom work. 

In a traditional classroom, the teacher is the source of knowledge, and classroom time is generally reserved for explaining new concepts. This leaves very little time for in-depth discussion, collaboration, and problem-solving in the classroom. As a result, students don’t get the chance to deepen their understanding, and teachers can’t be there to help when students encounter problems with their homework tasks. 

This can be even more of a problem with distance learning, as simply doing all your lessons in an online, face-to-face classroom is just not sustainable. Now that more and more teachers are having to get used to distance learning, the flipped classroom can be a life-saver as it reserves face-to-face time for when it’s really needed.

By flipping the classroom, students are encouraged to be independent learners by watching videos or reading up on topics before an online lesson. This encourages students to develop higher-order thinking skills such as collaboration and problem-solving. The teacher is there to answer questions and offer guidance, helping to cement students’ knowledge and encourage in-depth learning. 

Research shows that flipping the classroom can dramatically improve engagement and achievement. Just one success story of the flipped classroom is Clintondale High School in Detroit. After it adopted the flipped classroom technique, failure rates fell dramatically, from 52% to 19% in English, from 41% to 19% in science, and from 44% to 13% in math. 

Where do you start? 

One of the easiest ways to introduce the flipped classroom during distance learning is to give students video content to watch independently at home, perhaps with the support of follow-up questions or key learning points. Students can explore a concept or topic before diving into extension activities and discussions during your distance learning lesson. 

But where do you find good video content? There are many great free resources to choose from nowadays, but it can be tricky to find ones that are both age-appropriate and NGSS-aligned. Our free supplemental science resource Twig Science Tools gives you instant access to 950+ short videos (700+ in Spanish), plus hundreds of lessons and activities for K–5, all aligned to the NGSS. 

Twig Science Tools helps you introduce flipped learning effectively and easily to your distance learning classroom. All videos come with related resources and activities to help you extend students’ learning and connect science concepts to real-world phenomena. 

With Twig Science Tools, students have instant access to content that is easy to digest and can be watched again if they’re struggling. This means you can save valuable face-to-face time for what is really important!

7 Tips for Distance Learning and Homeschooling

Many parents have suddenly become homeschool teachers and many teachers are adapting to distance learning. That can be a lot to get used to. Learning from home is very different from sending your kids to school—but it doesn’t have to be a struggle! We’ve put together seven great tips that will help you master distance learning. 

  1. Establish a routine. It’s a good idea to write up a rough timetable for every day of the week so that your days get some structure. The timetable doesn’t have to be hour-by-hour (we know home life can be unpredictable!)—you can just block out sessions for certain subjects so that you have a clear idea of what you’re tackling that day. And don’t forget to include regular fun breaks! 
  1. Aim for short, fun sessions. Children (especially younger ones!) don’t have very long attention spans, and being tired doesn’t make for productive learning! So aim for short bursts of study time, and pay attention to when your child shows signs of being tired or distracted. Be prepared to be flexible—if your child gets tired earlier than you thought, it’s better to take a break and return to the task later, rather than trying to power through. 
  1. Get creative and mix up the ways you learn. Mixing things up makes learning more fun, and there are endless possibilities for different learning activities! Aim for a nice mix of video-based learning, independent reading and writing, games and quizzes, hands-on activities, and discussions. There are plenty of resources available for free online—for example, we’re offering free access to Twig Science Tools (K–5) and Twig Secondary (6–12), which both contain thousands of videos, activities, visuals, quizzes, and learning materials. 
  1. Learn with your child. Teaching at home doesn’t mean you have to lecture. Make learning time fun by exploring a topic with your child, and encourage them to think further by asking questions and providing feedback. Your child is likely to learn a lot more this way, compared to if you simply tell them the facts. Plus, research has shown that students find interaction with their parents very motivational.
  1. Schedule alone time. This might seem like it goes against the earlier point—but homeschooling is all about variety! You’re going to be together for the whole day, so some alone time can be beneficial. This could involve watching a video that is both fun and instructive or doing independent research and reading. We’ve prepared independent learning packs for grades K–6 that are perfect for independent study. Check them out! Teaching older kids? Twig Secondary also contains independent study resources. 
  1. Stay in touch with classmates. Learning at home can be lonely for children who are used to seeing their friends everyday. But with today’s technology and platforms such as Zoom, they can still see each other! A perfect activity is watching a video together, and then prompting discussion among the kids using prepared questions. For example, each week we publish a new episode of Twig Science Reporter on Youtube with exciting news stories from the world of science, including discussion questions!
  1. Find a “learning space” at home. It can be weird eating, sleeping, working, and studying in the same space, and it might make the parts of the day blur together. But if you create a space dedicated for learning, you can still have the routine of “going to school.” This can mean simply moving from the kitchen table to the living room, or even just changing up the kitchen table a bit to make it feel more like a work space. 

We hope those tips will make your homeschooling days a bit easier. If you’re looking for free science resources, we’ve made thousands of videos, activities, lesson guides, games and quizzes available for free—plus we’ve put together independent study packs for all ages. Find out more!