The Pilgrims Collection from American Experience

The voyage, landing and settlement of 102 colonists who sailed on the Mayflower from England to Cape Cod can be especially meaningful for students living in New England.  American Experience’s Pilgrims Collection, which includes this video clip, features historical reenactments and expert interviews to tell the story from both European and Native perspectives.

The Collection at PBS LearningMedia also offers strong support materials for students Continue reading

Gwen Ifill, Graduate of Springfield Classical High School

As oftewwslideshowgwenaschildn happens with the death of a loved one, old photos are taken out and studied.  This one of Gwen Ifill shows her as a child, wearing the smile that would bring warmth to her keen-eyed reporting.

Growing up, she lived with her family in various places, including Massachusetts, as her pastor father took on various assignments.  While PBS can take pride that Ifill was one of its own, our region can also take pride in knowing that she graduated from former Classical High School in Springfield.

A 2013 MassLive article, Continue reading

Gwen Ifill: Remembered for Her Integrity and Her Example

When Gwen Ifill — managing editor of “PBS NewsHour” and moderator and managing editor of “Washington Week” — passed away yesterday, President Obama called her an “extraordinary reporter . . . an especially powerful role model for young women and girls who admired her integrity, tenacity, and her intellect.”

One half of the first all-female anchor team on PBS NewsHour with Judy Woodruff, Ifill recalled her own childhood in a 2013 The New York Times interview: “When I was a little girl watching programs like this . . .  I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. Continue reading

10% of College Graduates Believe Judge Judy To Be A Supreme Court Justice

An educated electorate is critical to democracy’s health.  A New York Times article, Teaching Students That Judge Judy Is Not a Supreme Court Justice, reports that one of the most powerful judges in the Eastern United States, Robert A. Katzmann, chief judge of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, co-chairs a program that involves the entire circuit in assuming the role of “an engaged and approachable teacher.”

In the article he’s quoted as saying “Something like 70 percent of Americans can’t identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land [and] ten percent of college graduates think that Judge Judy is a Supreme Court justice.”  The far-reaching program he helps to head — Justice for All:  Courts and the Community —  gives students opportunities to learn about basic legal practices and research, explore legal libraries, and even lunch with justices.  In addition, it edits high school law class curricula.

To assure students you teach know the basics about our courts and the law, you’ll find resources for everything from Continue reading

The Obstacles That Remain — Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise

The statement “Black Lives Matter” has been offensive to some who fear it excludes the lives of others.  At the end of this video clip, Cornell West, Professor of Philosophy, explains the term’s intent to include the lives of Black Americans.  WGBY airs Black America Since MLK: And Still I Rise on Tuesdays, November 15 & 22, at 8pm.  In this new documentary Henry Louis Gates, Jr. takes a personal journey through the last 50 years of black history — from Stokely Carmichael to Barack Obama, James Brown to Beyoncé — charting the progress made and raising hard questions about the obstacles that remain.

Footage from programs such as this along with support materials can help teachers engage students in challenging subjects such as race.  At PBS LearningMedia you’ll find classroom resources that help to address Continue reading

“Hamilton’s America” Resources to Bring History into the Classroom

While this video clip was originally meant to be a preview of “Hamilton’s America” that aired on October 21st, it now offers a taste of the classroom resources available at PBS LearningMedia.  These resources, like the clip, allow students to watch and listen to “Hamilton’s” creator, Lin-Manual Miranda, as well as others who discuss the historical inspiration and basis for the Broadway musical “Hamilton.”

To take a look at the “Hamilton’s America” resources as well as related ones on Continue reading

Civil Discourse in Elections and in Our Classrooms

An article in last month’s NY Times, “Teaching Seventh Graders in a ‘Total Mess’ of an Election Season,” is still relevant even as the election season officially ends today.  In fact, one of the benefits of this challenging election cycle can be the examples it provides about the harmful effect of words and attitudes to our environment.

While the disturbing, even dangerous tenor set by a presidential candidate is beyond the control of the classroom teacher, teaching the importance of dignity and respect in an election and in the classroom is very much a teacher’s responsibility.  The tone maintained in the classroom, strongly influenced by teachers’ respect for students — even for the most difficult students — and the resources s/he chooses, sets a powerful example.  In fact, a setting infused with respect can help to diffuse disruptive attitudes and behaviors.

So, yes, it’s important to teach about this election cycle even as it becomes history, using appropriate examples that encourage thoughtful conversation about Continue reading

First 20 Responders To Win Classroom Placemats in Celebration of ARTHUR’s Anniversary

Produced at WGBH in Boston, the ARTHUR series features engaging, emotional stories that explore issues faced by real kids.  This fall, PBS KIDS longest running program celebrates 20 years of entertaining adults and children alike.

To celebrate, WGBH is offering classroom packs of Arthur coloring placemats to 20 PreK, Kindergarten or First grade teachers. To get a pack for your classroom,  Continue reading

Brief Experiences That Can Change Struggling Students’ Mindsets

In this edtalk professional development video from PBS LearningMedia, Nadia Murray Goodman discusses how she introduces high expectations for her students.  In a recent NY Times‘ article, Nudges That Help Struggling Students Succeed, David L. Kirp, professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and senior fellow at the Learning Policy Institute, sites studies showing that teachers’ high expectations is one way to can change students’ mindsets about mathematics.

Kirk writes how millions of college freshmen, often required to take algebra, fail math and ultimately drop out of college, noting that the Mathematical Association of America reports math as “’the most significant barrier’ to graduation.”  From recent studies, Kirp sites examples of how students given short, simple experiences can change their mindsets about math, which ultimately has Continue reading