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Lesson Plans

American Graduate Day 2014 collection

October 16, 2014

Full Lesson


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The PBS NewsHour has been part of the American Graduate Project since its inception and regularly highlights educational innovations, national trends and challenges. Our stories often shine a light on successful programs that may not be well-known. In honor of American Graduate Day, Saturday, September 27, we have put together a list of our favorite American Graduate stories, resources and initiatives.

This week, the NewsHour’s American Graduate team will look at the challenges of educating the thousands of unaccompanied, undocumented children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months and have enrolled in school while they wait for their day in immigration court.

On Saturday’s NewsHour, we will take an in-depth look at the state of Florida’s plan mandating an extra hour of reading instruction each day for students in its 300 lowest-performing elementary schools.

How ‘flipped classrooms’ are turning the traditional school day upside down 


Clintondale High School, located just outside Detroit, was struggling when, three years ago,  Principal Greg Green decided to flip the traditional classroom model on its head. Now, students watch lectures and lessons at home on video, then work directly with their teachers on traditional “homework” activities when they go to school. While individual teachers are experimenting with this  technique, Clintondale is the first U.S. high school to do a total flip.

Why recess and physical education are making a comeback

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At Fox Hill Elementary School in suburban Indianapolis, students take “brain breaks,” short activities designed to get students up and moving, along with organized games and physical activity at recess and in the class are part of the school’s strategy to educate students holistically.

“We have to always take into account their physical health, their mental health as well as their ability to read, write and to do math,” said Principal Sean Taylor. “You can’t exceed your expectations in one area without taking into account all those other aspects.”

  • For PBS NewsHour Extra resources highlighting active learning strategies, click here.

Why we still need Freedom Schools, 50 years later

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Half a century ago, students and local organizers banded together to fight to end segregation and discrimination against African-Americans in the United States.

In what became known as Freedom Summer, over 1,000 mostly-white, college-age volunteers flocked to Mississippi and joined local African-American leaders to register voters and protest injustice. They created Freedom Schools in an attempt to correct education inequalities for children of color.

  • Help students understand the history behind the Freedom Schools and let them express their own opinions about racial discrimination and if they think schools are still segregated today. Click here for a PBS NewsHour Extra video guide to support student learning on this topic.

Sixth graders ditch traditional lessons to create video game businesses


Imagine going to a school without desks or worksheets. Learning takes place while sitting on couches, using computers, playing video games on plasma screens and role-playing. That’s what sixth grade is like for students at the private New Roads School in Santa Monica, California.

Collaboration, teamwork and experiential learning happens every day at the Playmaker School, which is made up of the sixth graders who attend the private New Roads School. The Playmaker School concept is based on the use of games and authentic experiences as engagement tools and hands-on lessons that urge children to explore what interests them within the boundaries of a given topic.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs

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Because informed and engaged young people are critical for a healthy democracy, the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program connects middle and high school students to local PBS stations and news professionals in their community to produce original, student-generated video reports.The students who participate in the project learn how to think critically, problem-solve, synthesize information and investigate important topics. The American Graduate Project is a proud supporter of this unique high-impact youth reporting program. To learn more about the Labs please visit their website.

PBS Learning Media American Graduate Day Collection

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American Graduate Day is a full-day, live broadcast and outreach event scheduled for September 27, 2014. Over the course of a 7-hour day, more than 80 public television stations across the country will host a “call-to-action” campaign featuring more than 40 local and national community partners. Throughout the day, videos and interviews will showcase how these organizations provide support, advice, and prevention and intervention services to at-risk students, families, and schools.

This collection of resources is designed to mobilize teachers, students, parents, and community members to identify ways to take action and help increase the graduation rates in their schools and communities.

Media literacy education

What is media literacy?

Media literacy is the ability to access, evaluate and create all types of media, including news media.

All of NewsHour Classroom's resources contain lessons in media literacy, including questions like who produced the piece and what do you know about them?

Start by evaluating this video introducing NewsHour Classroom here.