FREE student admissions to see Selma!

  • Jan 22, 2015

Selma Poster

In an unprecedented opportunity brought about by African-American business leaders, middle and high-school students in select cities across the country will have an opportunity to see the Academy Award-nominated movie Selma absolutely free of charge!

But only while supplies last, so spread the word!

Selma tells the story of Martin Luther King’s 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, the epic culmination of his ultimately successful campaign to secure equal voting rights for all Americans.

“It’s important that the civil rights struggle depicted in Selma reach as many young people as possible so that the enduring lessons of the civil rights movement can be harnessed to inspire them to transform their lives and communities,” says T. Warren Jackson, Senior Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, DIRECTV, who organized the efforts in Los Angeles.

The film offers a great point of departure for classroom discussion and further study, so teachers and students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity.

You’ll find all the details here.

And to receive information about other great opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Help foster the leaders of tomorrow

  • Jan 16, 2015

Halo Effect

Kids are getting up to some really interesting things these days.

Take Sarah Dewitz of Orlando, Florida, for example. At just 15-years-old she runs a charity organization that has thus far collected and distributed half a million books to children and families from low-income neighborhoods (see video, below).

Or Nicholas Cobb, who began collecting toiletries for the needy at the age of 7 and later, as an Eagle Scout project, created a non-profit organization that raises money to purchase coats for homeless families.

Amazing young people doing amazing things, and now their stories are available to inspire everyone thanks to  TeenNick’s Halo Effect.

Each month, the Halo Effect initiative honors a teen who’s making an impact in their community and, moreover, drawing others to their cause. Check it out for yourself, and if you know a teenager who fits the bill you might want to consider nominating them for honor.

In any case, please spread the word about TeenNick’s Halo Effect. You never know who you might inspire.

And to receive information about other great opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

NOTE: TeenNick is channel 303 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Outrageous Acts of Science!

  • Jan 09, 2015

Outrageous Science

There are thousands of videos on the internet that depict people falling—falling off of bikes, into ponds, out of chairs, onto other people, or surprised pets—and these videos demonstrate a scientific principle: the Law of Gravity.

Who would have guessed that spending hours on the internet watching people fall off of things might actually count as scientific study. Well, it’s all in how you look at it. People challenge the law of gravity and they lose. Every time. And if they fall spectacularly and their video goes viral, they do it again. Only harder this time.

Which suggests a conversation about yet another area of science, psychology.

Seriously, though, someone smarter than me considered this phenomenon and had the bright idea to create a television show called Outrageous Acts of Science, which turns kooky internet videos into lessons in applied science (watch a sample, below).

Airing on the Science Channel (DIRECTV channel 284), Outrageous Acts of Science is highly entertaining as a clearinghouse for the web’s best do-it-yourself mayhem. But what really makes it unique is the expert analysis of the scientific principles behind something like, say, the infamous tongue-to-frozen-lamppost dare, proving that it is scientifically possible to be serious while not taking oneself too seriously.

Check it out for yourself. Maybe even incorporate an epIsiode into your curriculum. If nothing else, your students will think you’re cool.

Outrageous Acts of Science is rated TV14, and airs Saturday nights at 10/9C. Be sure to visit the show’s official web site.

And for more information on fun, educational shows like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

PBS is looking for America’s most innovative educators!

  • Jan 08, 2015

Digital Innovators

Long, long ago, the chalkboard arrived as an innovative new tool for classroom instruction. Undoubtedly some teachers balked. Others, however, saw the potential benefits a board offered their students and became the first to learn how not to screech chalk, and always clap erasers outside the window.

If you’re one of those teachers who’s still embracing what’s new in education technology, the good folks at PBS would like to invite you to apply to the 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program, a yearlong professional development opportunity designed to “reward, foster and grow a community of 100 tech-savvy educators making an impact in their classrooms.”

Application to the program is easy, and selected teachers will enjoy a host of benefits including access to exclusive virtual trainings and resources, as well as a shot at a three day, all-expense paid trip to Philadelphia to participate in the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Summit and the prestigious ISTE Conference in late June, 2015.

The deadline for application is February 11, 2015, so get started!

PBS LearningMedia is the destination for free PreK-12 digital classroom content. While you’re on the site, be sure to check out all the great educational resources available —100k+ digital resources, in fact, covering all subjects, from 205 trusted media partners and aligned to national and Common Core State Standards.

And to receive more information about opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Seriously cool history

  • Dec 31, 2014


History is discovery, as they say, and you’ll be amazed by how much there is to learn about things you already know in the engaging documentary series 10 Things You Didn’t Know About.

Airing on the History channel’s sister network H2 (channel 271 on your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel package), the show is hosted by punk rock icon Henry Rollins (right), a challenging intellectual and longtime advocate for staying informed. His basic premise, and thus the guiding principle of the show, seems to be that there’s always more to the story than just the official story, and episodes on everything from the Gold Rush and the American Revolution to the ongoing Tesla/Edison debate make the case.

“If you want to go anywhere, you have to know where you are. In order to do that, you have to know where ‘you’ have been,” says Rollins. “Americans should really dig into their history. What some might think is new isn’t at all.”

The series is recommended for high-school history, social studies, and current events courses. History’s free Spring 2015 Idea Book includes a classroom guide designed to help you incorporate this and other shows into your curricula. NOTE: Topics vary widely, so teachers may want to preview individual episodes for educational application.

For airdates, check HS’s schedule. If you’d like to watch the show right now, full episodes available for viewing on the show’s official web site.

The series is also available for purchase from the History Shop.

For more information on great educational shows like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

There is still time to enter the second annual White House Student Film Festival!

  • Dec 23, 2014


As I’ve said before, two things every student has these days are 1) a camera, and 2) an opinion—or at least a point of view. So it’s no surprise that more and more education-friendly entities (including C-SPAN and CNN Student News), are inviting students to make films.

Chief among those advocates now is none other than President Barack Obama, who has extended an engaging challenge of his own by way of the annual White House Student Film Festival.

The competition is open to all U.S. students grades K-12, who may submit a video up to 3 minutes in length, fiction or documentary, based on this year’s theme, “The Impact of Giving Back.”

“Tell a story about paying it forward, about community service, or what making a difference looks like in your eyes and through your lens,” say the contest’s official rules.

The deadline for submissions is January 20, 2015, so spread the word!

For more information watch the video below, then visit the official White House web site.

And to keep abreast of great educational opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Manufacture your future!

  • Dec 19, 2014


My fondest memory from primary school involves getting an “A” on a story I’d written for fifth-grade English class. Moreover, it was the little note my teacher placed next to the grade that said “You are a writer!”.

Fortunately, I believed her. And I’ve been writing ever since.

There is no substitute for the influence a teacher can have upon a young person trying to figure out who they are, and what they can do. With that in mind, I’d like to tell you about Manufacture Your Future, a great new online initiative from Discovery Education and the Alcoa Foundation designed to help educators, school counselors and families cultivate the manufacturing leaders and innovators of tomorrow.

It’s a free, STEM-based resource that includes standards-based lesson plans for grades 6-12, a virtual field trip to an Alcoa manufacturing plant, career guides and discussion starters. I especially like the career guides, which can be useful in helping a young person understand how their skills and affinities have application in the “real” world.

I’m quite sure that my fifth-grade English teacher would approve.

Check it out for yourself. Visit the official Manufacturing Your Future web site.

And to receive more information about great educational resources like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Help find the 2015 History Teacher of the Year!

  • Dec 12, 2014

teacher of year

You know that passionate history teacher who’s got an uncanny knack for making the past feel like the present?

Of course you do. And it’s time everyone else knew them as well.

The challenge: Help HISTORY channel and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History find 2015′s History Teacher of the Year!

Any full-time educator (K-12 ) who teaches American history is eligible, but it’ll be your job to nominate them! Students, parents, colleagues, principals or other administrators familiar with the teacher’s work are invited to open the nomination process. There are cash prizes for State Winners, and a big prize package for the National Winner that includes an award ceremony in their honor in New York City.

Winners will be selected for the creative ways they bring history alive in the classroom and in their community.

Pictured above is 2013 New York History Teacher of the Year Angel Brea, of P.S. 257 in Brooklyn. Doesn’t he look happy?

Make your favorite history teacher happy, too. The deadline for nominations is February 1, 2015, and once a teacher is nominated they’ll be contacted with instructions and have until March 15, 2015 to submit supporting materials.

For more details visit the official competition web site.

And to receive more information about opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

History Channel logo

Reliving That Most Infamous Day

  • Dec 05, 2014

Pearl Harbor

Sunday, December 7, will mark the 73rd anniversary of what then President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the “date which will live in infamy”, and History channel is greeting the occasion with an encore presentation of the documentary Pearl Harbor: 24 Hours After.

Drawn largely from resources within the FDR Library, the film offers a rare and  intimate look inside the White House during the first 24 hours following Japan’s catastrophic surprise  attack on a U.S. Naval base in Hawaii, which resulted in over three thousand American casualties and thrust America into a war that would shift the course of global geopolitical history.

The documentary is recommended for middle and high-school History, Global Studies, and Politics courses, as well as lectures on World War II. And there are free lesson plans available for download.

The 2-hour special Pearl Harbor: 24 Hours After, rated TVPG, airs Sunday, December 7 at 10am/9c on the History channel (DIRECTV channel 269). Lesson plans for middle and high-school students are available free.

The film is also available for purchase from the History Shop.

For more information on great educational shows, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Meet the ODD SQUAD, solving math problems one hilarious adventure at a time

  • Nov 25, 2014

Image: ODD SQUAD (C) 2014 The Fred Rogers Company

We always knew math could be fun, and now, PBS KIDS proves it with ODD SQUAD, a wildly engaging new educational series for kids 5-8.

Produced by The Fred Rogers Company (yes, that Mr. Rogers), ODD SQUAD is a weekday series that follows the adventures of Otto (Filip Geljo) and Olivia (Dalila Bela), agents in a government organization tasked with investigating bizarre phenomena in their town. And as luck (and smart writing) would have it, each case is ultimately solved by working out a math problem.

Oh, and did I mention the dinosaurs? Check out the video below for a sample of what’s to come.

“Research shows that kids perform better when exposed early to math concepts, and ODD SQUAD introduces these topics in a fun and engaging way,” says Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Programming, PBS. “We are excited to bring a new math show to the PBS KIDS line-up, particularly at a time when STEM education is proving to be so important.”

ODD SQUAD premieres November 26 on PBS Kids (check local listings). For more information, resources and interactive content, visit the show’s official web site.

And be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter for the latest information on great educational shows like ODD SQUAD.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Image: ODD SQUAD (C) 2014 The Fred Rogers Company