June 10th, 2021

Brief But Spectacular: Creative ways to find moments of strength during life’s struggles

Arts & CultureCoronavirusEducationHealthSocial StudiesU.S.


Directions: Read the introduction, watch the videos and answer the focus questions below. Students can watch anywhere from one to all five of the videos. After viewing, have students try to produce  a creative project (art, text, digital media, etc.) of their own to show how COVID-19 has changed their lives or communities. Students and teachers can submit projects to PBS NewsHour Extra’s Hindsight 20/21 showcase here.

Introduction: PBS NewsHour’s series Brief But Spectacular gives speakers, thinkers, artists and inventors from all around the world a platform to talk about what they are passionate about. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the series illuminated stories and perspectives on how different Americans are affected differently in times of struggle. Brief But Spectacular encourages social-emotional learning (SEL) in students and provides a meaningful way to end a challenging school year. Find all Brief But Spectacular stories here.

Video 1: Rivka Solomon

To view the transcript, click here.


Focus questions: Rivka advocates for more support for people with disabilities like chronic fatigue syndrome. What are some ways in the classroom that you can support people with disabilities? How might your local school board support people with disabilities? 


Video 2: Philip Montgomery

To view the transcript, click here.


Focus questions: Philip took photos in hospitals and other frontline locations. If you could photograph your community in a pandemic, what would you take pictures of and why?  


Video 3: Tara Rynders

To view the transcript, click here.


Focus questions: Tara supports nurses by bringing art to hospitals. Who are some other people in your community that art could provide comfort to? Did art (music, movies, etc.) bring some relief or joy to your own life over the past year? Explain. 


Video 4: Savoya Taylor

To view the transcript, click here.


Focus questions: Savoya’s family inspires her to keep working through the pandemic. Who in your immediate family or community has inspired you to keep going during the COVID-19 pandemic? What are some ways you can support frontline workers in your community? 


Video 5: Chante and Ron Drew

To view the transcript, click here.


Focus questions: Chante and Ron are among many truck drivers working in frontline jobs that are underappreciated by some people in our society. What are other examples of frontline workers who you think deserve more recognition? How can you show appreciation for them? 


Dig Deeper: 

  • Want to explore sharing student voices? Check out our lesson plan on creating your own Brief But Spectacular take.
  • Submit finished pieces to PBS NewsHour Extra’s Hindsight 20/21 showcase. Details here.


This article was written by EXTRA intern Cecilia Curran and EXTRA’s Victoria Pasquantonio. Curran is a sophomore at Amherst College.

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