Public Media Back-to-School Resources Offer Support During Uncertain Times

August 16, 2021

Public Media Back to School Resources

As the 2021 back-to-school season arrives amid persistent pandemic uncertainty, parents, students, and educators can turn to public media for free resources that support social and emotional learning, academic lessons, and professional development.

“Classrooms continue to evolve, and we’re proud to be a go-to resource for both families and educators as they prepare kids to head back to school in the coming months,” said Sara Schapiro, Vice President of Education for PBS.

PBS KIDS for Parents offers a Back to School hub with articles, videos, and activities on acclimating to new routines, managing emotions, and building friendships, as well as a Spanish website with more than 150 resources. And for educators, PBS LearningMedia offers a Back to School collection of resources in English and Spanish to help customize teaching to best support students at all levels.

Later this summer, PBS will launch an updated PBS LearningMedia student platform for middle and high school students. On September 9, PBS KIDS will host a webinar on the PBS KIDS for Parents YouTube channel for parents and educators of PreK-Grade 2 children on what they’ve learned from the past two school years, and how they can build strong relationships with children. 

The WNET Group recently added five videos to its Parenting Minutes, an at-home learning resources page for families and educators.

The short videos, found on the WNET Education website,  are available in English, Spanish, Bengali and Chinese.

Parenting Minutes: Building Parent Teacher Relationships, by Thirteen/WNET

On September 6, public television’s WORLD Channel will launch Discover Your World, a five-hour weekday educational programming block from 2-7 p.m. ET. Discover Your World builds on the success of WORLD Channel’s At-Home Learning programming block that was offered to students during the pandemic, which also drew adults attracted to the quality content from the PBS library. These include “NOVA,” “American Masters,” “Nature,” “FRONTLINE” and signature WORLD documentary series, such as “America ReFramed,” “Doc World,” and “Local USA.” Discover Your World will also include WORLD’s block of international news programs that provide perspectives from around the globe.

American Archive of Public Broadcasting

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) offers tens of thousands of pieces of public broadcasting content in its online reading room. Its numerous resources for students include National History Day resources and suggested learning activities for its Speaking and Protesting in America exhibit. Recent additions include a collection of 9/11 Special Coverage, in time for the 20th anniversary of the horrific events of September 11, 2001; and Freedom Song: Interviews from Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965, an online exhibit of unedited interviews conducted for the landmark PBS series of the same name. Curator Michelle Kelley discusses “Eyes on the Prize,” which aired in WORLD Channel’s pandemic At-Home Learning block earlier this year, and the archive collection, in the AAPB's Presenting the Past podcast series.

Presenting the Past Episode 1: A conversation on "Eyes on the Prize" with Michelle Kelley, PhD, by American Archive of Public Broadcasting

Local Public Media Educational Offerings

The CPB-supported Civics 101 podcast from New Hampshire Public Radio released a suite of educator resources, including teacher-created lesson plans, graphic organizers, activities, and quizzes. The materials are presented in curriculum frameworks that meet state standards for New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Illinois and California.

KQED Learn, a CPB-supported, free platform for middle and high school students, is kicking off two new Youth Media Challenges, one focused on creating a mini science documentary and the other on re-thinking school. Students will create media projects in response to curriculum-based prompts, with select entries published on KQED digital channels.

Local public television stations are trusted sources for educational content, and many have updated their offering for the school year. They include:

  • Idaho Public Television has partnered with Idaho Children’s Trust Fund and Optum Idaho to produce a three-part online professional development series on adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, and other traumas. It is based on the Idaho PTV documentary “Resilience: Hope Lives Here.” Monthly webinars for teachers, counselors, and other practitioners, start August 19.
"Rise & Shine" K-2 Social Studies Lesson: 2016 ATOY Meghan Ables - "What if I lived in...", by Arkansas PBS
  • Arkansas PBS, which launched “Rise and Shine” summer learning in July, will continue to share the original content, including teacher-led instruction, animated shorts, and music videos, as well as Power Packet workbooks aligned to state math, science, literacy, and social studies standards at myarpbs.org/riseandshine.
  • KET offers a suite of educational resources to complement classroom instruction, including videos, interactive activities, and other digital learning tools. Standing features include a News Quiz, KET’s weekly online current events program for students; video field trips to the Kentucky State Capitol; a series of short videos on social studies and civics topics; Virtual Media Lab student workshops, and a self-paced professional development course for Kentucky educators focused on supporting student mental health during the pandemic.
  • SCETV has added new content to its robust catalog of resources and services for South Carolina educators and students, which include nearly 10,000 media assets and preK-12 lessons at knowitall.org. The new Simple.Digital program helps teachers and parents navigate the digital world through guides, reference sheets and, starting in September, 10-15-minute videos explaining technology concepts. A Growing Up with Smart Cat workbook and 11 new Smart Cat video episodes help prepare young learners, including new kindergarteners, for school.  

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