PBS in the Classroom

Using Media for Classroom Learning and FUN

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The daily to-do list, the daily news, the daily schedule -  how in the world can we as educators be thinking about FUN!? It's the last thing on our minds. And, if we as adults feel like we are getting lost in our days, what about our learners?

We know that classroom curriculum can come off as repetitive and not engaging, but don't worry. We are here to offer some simple ways to spice up your days and spark classroom engagement and fun through media integration into your classroom.

Whether it's co-viewing videos, reimagining stories, creating podcasts, or doing a voice over, PBS LearningMedia offers an abundance of media centered resources that cover various topics and subjects for your learners.

Modeling Media Integration

Part of our role as educators is to prepare our students to be media literate citizens of our world. Modeling this within your classrooms and approach is just one of the first steps in making this happen. Let’s hear from Clemencia Acevedo and Julie HIldebrand on their perspective of the importance of Media Literacy. 

What does it mean to you for your students to be media literate? Why is it important?

“Media literacy comes with so many facets in the classroom, and it’s incredibly important that we explicitly teach those to our students to set them up for success and a positive digital environment. First and foremost, we have to teach our children how to use technology. Often times, my first graders know how to use an iPad but have never been taught how to turn an iPad on or how to force an app to close that may have become frozen. 

We also have to teach our students the “lingo” of using digital tools. It’s its own language that students need to know in order to feel capable. At the beginning of each year, I spend several days teaching this language and verbage. I explicitly teach what the buttons for home, refresh, pause, etc. look like and when to use them. We keep these anchor charts posted in our classroom for students to refer to throughout the year. 

It’s also incredibly important that we teach students how to be safe and a good citizen online, such as not sharing personal information and using kind words. Lastly, I teach and encourage students to be resourceful for each other. We identify students who have various digital skills and use them as our “Tech Support” in the classroom.”
- Julie Hildebrand
“Supporting my students to become media literate empowers them to navigate a world where communities increasingly communicate on digital platforms. Teaching our kids to feel comfortable using technology, and communicating clearly and safely online prepares them to meet an ever-changing digital world. 
In my classrooms, I integrate multimedia film clips, documentaries, interviews and digital visuals that address the topic of the lesson to support them in learning the information I would like them to walk away with, at the same time, make it easier for them to make meaning of the information they heard, observed and read. While working with media resources, I take a fully integrated approach. They take notes digitally and complete assignments and projects. They have lots of fun with their media projects because for the most part kids like to work with visuals and hear themselves talk. At the end of the year, my students walk away knowing they can express their thinking and ideas constructively through media, skills they will need for the future.” 
- Clemencia Acevedo 

Student Engagement

So what does that look like? Here are resources that offer simple pathways for media integration into your classroom.

Finding Instruments in Nature | Nature Cat Resource
The Nature Cat Band is ready for The Battle of the Pet Bands! They’ve been practicing for weeks and cannot wait to compete! But right before the band battle is set to begin, a mishap launches all of their instruments into the ocean! How can they make music and compete with no instruments? Oh no!

Julie's Teaching Tip for Prek-2 Classrooms

  • Kiddos love experimenting with natural resources and making their own creations! Take your students outside to find their own musical instruments.  Which natural resources make loud noises? Which have quiet sounds? Can you use more than one natural resource to create an instrument?

Julie's Teaching Tip for 3-5 Classrooms

  • After watching the “Finding Instruments in Nature” resource, have your students participate in a STEM Challenge where students create an instrument with the highest pitch using either objects found in nature or craft materials.  Then let your students rock out as a class with their new instruments!

Understanding Plant and Animal Adaptations: Analysis & Media-Making | Eons Resource
In this lesson, students will explore a variety of resources from PBS Digital Studios' Eons. Use this hands-on lesson to excite students about animal adaptation, evolution, and media-making. This student-choice centered lesson is intentionally designed to be engaging, thought provoking, and adaptable with low or high access to technology. Students will be drawn into the topic, Adapt to Survive, and work collaboratively to chart their own path through the video gallery before finally showcasing their mastery of the topic in a choice of creative, original media productions.

Julie's Teaching Tip

  • Content that may seem too difficult or above grade level for students can always be modified for younger grades!  For example, this incredibly interesting resource which would be too complex for lower elementary students could be used to teach about animal adaptations.  An educator could show just a select few minutes (or even seconds) that relate directly to the skill being taught, rather than the entire resource!  

Watch this professional development webinar on PBS LearningMedia and hear more teaching tips on modeling media integration from Clemencia and Julie!

Julie Hildebrand and Clemencia Acevedo Educators and PBS Digital Innovator All-Stars

Julie Hildebrand is a first grade teacher and Campus Innovation Coach at Patton Elementary in Austin, Texas and has been teaching for 14 years.  In addition to being a Heart of Texas Writing Project Teacher Consultant, Julie is also a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Digital Innovator All-Star, served on the PBS KLRU Education Committee, and an education consultant and writer for various organizations including PBS Kids and Rosen Publishing.  Most recently, Julie co-founded a small business, busy bébés, which focuses on developing early childhood skills using play-based learning activities.

Clemencia Acevedo is a special education teacher at Don Pedro Albizu Campos (P.S./M.S. 161) in West Harlem, New York. She engages in evocative writing and professional research on teaching practices and digital literacy with #DrewTeach teacher writers at Drew University. Selected to the WNET PBS Digital Innovator 2020 and PBS Digital Innovator All-Stars 2020.  She is the author of Supporting All Learners with Instructional Videos and co-author ofUnderstanding Plant and Animal Adaptations: Analysis & Media-Making | Eons | PBS All-Stars Lessons

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