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The mission of the Commonwealth Corps is to engage Massachusetts residents of all ages and backgrounds in service to strengthen communities, address unmet community needs, and increase volunteerism. A few host sites across the state are still accepting applications for Commonwealth Corps Members to serve full-time or half-time (more…)

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It’s that time of year when thousands of students have proudly claimed their high school diploma, and that’s cause for celebration for public media. At the recent Building A Grad Nation Summit, the 2014 report released by, among others, the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, stated that for the first time in U.S. history the nation’s high school graduation rate has risen above 80%.  At this rate, the U.S. remains on track to meet the national goal of a 90% graduation rate by 2020. (more…)

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indexYesterday’s New York Times article Teach the Teachers Well by Suzanne Bouffard looks at the need for teachers to address students’ emotional needs as well as curriculum content to be effective in the today’s classrooms.  Citing the high number of behavioral and emotional issues among elementary and secondary school students, the article considers the success of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs that schools nationwide are using to meet states’ anti-bullying policies.  With more than three-quarters of teachers believing that SEL is important for academic success and the U.S. Department of Education recommending SEL in recent guidelines for improving school climate and discipline (more…)

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imagesTonight’s educator webinar at 6:30pm EDT focuses on compelling educational resources available in PBS LearningMedia derived from the PBS series, Latino Americans. These resources provide a wide array of bilingual lesson plans, activities, videos and more.

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Independent Television Service (ITVS) Community Classroom is a film and curriculum resource series that brings to life some of today’s most vital social issues, pairing film modules from award-winning documentaries with standards-based lesson plans.  To celebrate Women’s History Month by focusing on women and girls around the world, PBS LearningMedia offers a Women and Girls Lead curriculum collection inspired by the landmark PBS mini-series, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.  Here’s a trailer for the mini-series.


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ccorestandardspic_Common Core State Standards set requirements not only for English language arts but also for literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects — making content-area reading more important than ever.

Because students usually need practice with content-area reading, PBS LearningMedia provides ways to boost literacy using the Middle School Literacy Initiative, which is funded by the Walmart Foundation and supported by other PBS LearningMedia resources.  With these self-paced online lessons, perfect for blended learning environments, students can read, review vocabulary, and practice writing in the content areas.

You can visit any of the following individual lessons:

Science:   On the continental drift, students learn how an idea that started with a man looking at a map of continent became a scientific theory.

Mathematics:  On unit conversion, students figure out how much water various activities use and also learn about water conservation.

Health:  Should I eat this?   Students learn about nutrition values of different foods and meet two students with diabetes.

Social Studies:   Students meet four teen immigrants and learn about the challenges they face as they adapt to American culture.

To use the lessons, students simply need to register for an account on PBS LearningMedia, or use their existing account.

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imagesOne of the BIG lessons we can teach students is to be confident in their problem solving, especially when they make mistakes or have undesirable outcomes.  Since it’s never too soon to be determined and dauntless in tackling challenges, here are three challenges from Design Squad for budding engineers, even when they don’t think they can be scientists someday.

MAKE A ROBOT: 
Teach your students to build their own mini robot out of a toothbrush head, a coin battery and a pager motor. Follow this link to a how-to video and step-by-step instructions.

SOFT LANDING: 
Challenge your students to design and build an airbag system that can safely land an egg dropped onto the floor. Follow this link to a how-to video and this link to step-by-step instructions.

DANCE PAD:
Students will love building this dance pad that helps them move to the rhythm and step to the beat! Follow this link to a how-to video and this link to step-by-step instructions.

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indexProduced by WGBH in Boston, Martha Speaks is a fantastic PBS Kids program that takes its name from a beloved dog, Martha, who can talk.  Why?  Because she eats alphabet soup!  And with so many letters in her head, Martha effectively teaches children new vocabulary words, some of which will astonish you.

At the start of the holiday season, children will immediately warm to the family-themed MARTHA’S THANKSGIVING, a special episode where Martha searches for her long-lost canine family as her owner, Helen, has an extended family coming together for Thanksgiving.   The program airs on WGBY this Monday, November 25, and again on Thanksgiving Day at 6:30am, a time that usually finds kids ready to start their day!

Parents and teachers don’t have to rise early to discover the great learning resources that accompany Martha Speaks.  At the Martha Speaks Parent and Teacher’s  website, you’ll find expert research and activities as well as curriculum for Martha Speaks Reading Buddies and Martha Speaks Read Aloud Book Club — all great resources that support students oral vocabulary growth.

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imagesWith many people thinking and talking about JFK, this time surrounding the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination is a strong incentive for students to learn about his legacy.  PBS LearningMedia has a collection of videos and primary sources that will help to engage students in valuable lessons.  Here’s a sample:

The Presidents’ Photographer (Grades 3-13+):  Students can see that White House photographers serve as archivists for our democracy, capturing the day to day aspects of presidents’ lives, as well as history-changing moments.

The Governor (Grades 6-12):  This video segment adapted from American Experience: “Freedom Riders” describes Alabama Governor John Patterson’s refusal to ensure the safety of the Freedom Riders, despite the efforts of President Kennedy and other federal officials. Support materials include Democracy in Action Study Guide.

Cuban Missile Crisis:  Three Men Go to War:  Communications with Khrushchev, Castro, and Kennedy (Grades 9-12):  This video segment, which includes a background essay and discussion questions, describes the communications among Khrushchev and Castro and Khrushchev and Kennedy in an effort to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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1021-lpicks-tv-television-Many-Rivers-PBS_full_380Have you found PBS series like “Eyes on the Prize” and “The Civil War” excellent classroom resources to engage students in their history and the history that informs much of American literature?  The new, six-hour series on Tuesdays, beginning October 22 — The African Americans:  Many Rivers to Cross — chronicles the full sweep of African-American history, from the origins of slavery on the African continent through more than four centuries of remarkable historic events up to the present.

Presented and written by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the series draws on some of America’s top historians and heretofore untapped primary sources, guiding viewers on an engaging journey across two continents to shed new light on the experience of being African American.   You can find a complete list of series offerings and watch a preview at WGBY’s website.  And at the series’ website, you’ll  find episode clips, Professor Gates’ 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro, downloadable posters, and a link to share your stories.  The site also links you to PBS LearningMedia where you’ll find countless resources related to slavery and the history of African Americans.  Here are just a few:

Looking for Lincoln Views on Slavery (Grades 5-8):  In this lesson, students examine Abraham Lincoln’s views on slavery and race as they evolved throughout his early life and throughout his presidency.

Finding Your Roots (Grades 8-12):  This collection from the 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.offers media-rich resources on a range of topics including colonialism, immigration, migration, the history of jazz, the American civil rights movement, and slavery.

Examining Slave Culture and Resistance (Grades 9-13+):  In this annotated image from A Biography of America, explore what Eastman Johnson’s painting of runaway slaves tells us about slave culture.

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