Help Them All Become Good Digital Citizens

  • Sep 14, 2016

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The digital landscape holds a world of possibilities for students—in education, creativity, communication, and overall empowerment. But there are challenges, too, and it’s up to adults to ensure that kids have the necessary knowledge to safely and effectively navigate the environment.

As an educator, you are uniquely positioned to impart this knowledge. And if you’re ready to take on the challenge, you’ll have an ally.

Common Sense Media is a leading independent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology. They have pledged to “empower students with the skills they need to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly.”

One way they accomplish this is through the creation of K-12 educational resources—which are easily implemented in the classroom, and freely available.

In fact, if you join Common Sense Media in pledging to empower kids, they’ll give you a free Back-to-School Guide to help you get started!

To get your copy, just take the Digital Citizenship Pledge today.

And to help us keep you informed about other free resources and educational programs, please be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Images: Common Sense Media

C-SPAN Classroom Brings the Presidential Election to YOUR Classroom!

  • Aug 25, 2016

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The 2016 presidential election enters the home stretch this semester, which presents teachers with a great opportunity to transform current events into learning opportunities.

And our friends at C-SPAN are ready to help!

Just one of the many fine networks delivered to your school each month as part of the DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE program package, C-SPAN is an outstanding resource for unvarnished coverage of news and current events, and always at the forefront when it comes to marshaling the power of television for education. For the current election, they’ve assembled a variety of videos and classroom materials you can start downloading right now.

We invited C-SPAN representatives to tell you more about their C-SPAN Classroom initiative, and to outline what resources are available:

C-SPAN Classroom is a free membership service for social studies teachers with the mission to enhance the teaching of social studies through C-SPAN’s primary source programming and websites. This fall, as we head toward election day, C-SPAN Classroom continues to update the Campaign 2016 section of our website. These educational resources provide explanations of the various aspects of the election process for candidates vying to become the next President of the United States. Separated into 10 main areas, each topic is supplemented with related video clips, discussion questions, handouts, and culminating activities to engage your students in the election process.

Our most recent updates feature clips on candidates and the media, endorsements, the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, vice president selection, and voter values.

You can access all of C-SPAN Classroom’s free educational resources, including the Campaign 2016 page on our website.

C-SPAN Classroom and the C-SPAN Networks are made possible by the support of DIRECTV.

 

NOTE: In order to help us keep you informed about other free resources and educational programs, please be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

STEM Can Take You Places!

  • Aug 15, 2016

space week

“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition”

UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999

And in the wake of that historic declaration have come nearly two decades of education and awareness of the importance of STEM-related study. After all, no one’s ever traveled to space without packing the four essential items: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

The folks behind this annual effort do a good job of delivering on the spirit of the original resolution, as evidenced by the growing number of live events being held each year, and the creation of free educational resources that allow teachers to bring World Space Week right into their classrooms.

Are you looking for a way to get students excited about the real-world application of STEM? It doesn’t get more exciting than space travel.

Learn more about this effort by visiting the official World Space Week website. And while you’re there, go to the Events banner and look for Educational Resources. You’ll be taken to a page that’s chock-full of K-12 lesson guides and links to other resources, as well as a list of live Space Week events happening across the country, and around the world.

There may be one happening near you!

To help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Improve Student Writing and Grammar with Quill

  • Aug 10, 2016

Quill

Developments in education technology are growing more exciting every year, and, for me, never more exciting than when the most cutting-edge technology is harnessed to help teachers hammer home the most fundamental aspects of education.

Like literacy, for example, and a digital platform called Quill that’s brilliantly using technology to strengthen core language skills.

Quill is a free, easy-to-use application designed to help students develop their writing, grammar, and proofreading proficiency. It’s currently being used by over 100,000 students and 4,000 teachers nationwide, and it’s making a real difference in classrooms. How do we know? We’ve heard it from teachers.

“I’ve seen tremendous improvement in the proficiency of my students and the quality of their writing,” says Daniel Scibienski of Princeton Public Schools. “At the beginning of the year, my students were able to write using the basic fundamentals of the English language. By the end, after using Quill, my students were able to correctly write essays with consistent tone throughout and even intentionally use parallel structure to their advantage.”

Teacher Randall L. Carswell of Charlotte, North Carolina has been equally impressed. “I appreciate the fact that students are required to slow down, check spelling, punctuation and the grammar lesson at hand in order to score “GREEN!” I am noticing a much better effort by my students in their other activities, whether it be writing or literature, they seem to pay closer attention leading to a stronger performance.”

So how does Quill work? After an easy set-up process teachers can assign any of over 150 language activities which are built to Common Core standards. Each of these activities takes about 10 minutes to complete, and upon completion the students receive instant feedback on their work. Moreover, teachers and administrators receive real-time data on student progress via an in-app dashboard, so everybody’s on the same page.

And did we mention that it’s free?

“All of our lessons are free and will continue to be free in the future,” says Tom Calabrese, Quill’s cofounder and creative director. “And we recently launched a premium service which allows educators the ability to gain even more in-depth student reporting. You can sign up for a 30-day trial.”

Check out the video below for more on Quill, and be sure to visit their official website.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Supporting Student Writing

  • Aug 04, 2016

aspire

Reading and writing are foundational to education, and today we’re both proud and happy to let you know about a student literacy project being undertaken by our colleagues at AT&T.

Through its signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, AT&T is teaming-up with the non-profit tutoring and mentoring group 826 National to help students explore their potential as authors—seeing them through every aspect of the creation of their own books. And toward this end, in addition to a financial contribution, the company is making available the greatest resource there is: people. AT&T employees will volunteer as mentors to help students through the process.

Read all about it right here.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational opportunities and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

Crafty Summer Ideas

  • Aug 02, 2016

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Looking for ways to keep the kids busy and learning this season? Well, good news! PBS Parents’ Crafts for Kids website offers dozens of do-it-yourself creative projects.

From Cool Ice Towers (right) and cardboard Storybook Castles (below), to indoor gardens and outdoor toys, there’s something for every taste and skill level. And best of all, most of the projects call for items you probably have around the house.

Kids have a natural inclination to make things. For them, creativity is play—but purposeful play with an end goal in mind. And with all the attention lately on project-based learning, activities like crafting, especially with regard to younger kids, seem to take on new importance.

Visit Crafts for Kids today.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational opportunities and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

 

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Images: PBS

Winners Announced in the 2015-2016 TeenDrive365 Video Challenge

  • Aug 01, 2016

TeenDrive365

Back in December we told you about the TeenDrive365 Video Challenge, a great opportunity for students to think about the importance of safe driving while showing-off their filmmaking chops and vying for cash prizes.

Well, the results are in, and this year’s contest produced another great crop of films. You can watch the Grand Prize-winning entry below, and check out all the other finalists on the Challenge website.

And while you’re there, be sure to explore all the free safe-driving resources that are available for teachers, parents and teens.

The annual TeenDrive365 Video Challenge is brought to you by Toyota and our friends at Discovery Education.

To help us keep you informed about other great free educational opportunities and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Image and video: Discovery Education

A Great Opportunity for Student Filmmakers

  • Jun 23, 2016

CineSpace

Hey, students and teachers, are you looking for a cool way to kick-off your summer break? Why not make a film?

Following on the success of last year’s CineSpace short film competition, NASA and the Houston Cinema Arts Society are once again inviting filmmakers of all ages to vie for cash prizes by creating a movie of any genre that incorporates content from NASA’s library of historic images and video!

If you enter, you’ll be competing for $26,000 in prizes with cash awards going to the top three submissions as well as the two films that best demonstrate the themes “Benefits of Space to Humanity” and “Future Space Exploration.”

But you’ll have to act fast. Deadline for submission is July 31st.

This year’s contest, which is open to all professional and aspiring filmmakers, will be judged by acclaimed director Richard Linklater (School of Rock). Participants under the age of 18 will need the permission of a parent or guardian to enter.

Check out last year’s 1st Place winner below, then head over to CineSpace for more info.

Good luck, and here’s hoping it’s your film being featured here next time!

To help us keep you informed about other great free educational opportunities and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

Image and video: NASA/Houston Cinema Arts Festival

Generation STEM

  • May 26, 2016

Obama Science

Earlier this month, President Obama invited students across the country to share their thoughts on science, technology, and innovation. What’s noteworthy about this is that the idea itself was born in April at the 6th White House Science Fair, when 9-year-old inventor Jacob Leggette told the President that he should have a kid science advisor.

Kudos to Jacob for knowing how to make the most of an opportunity, and congratulations to students everywhere who, as a result of Jacob’s initiative, will now have an opportunity to make their voices heard at the highest levels of the STEM frontier.

Watch the video below for more on this great story, and please encourage your students to take part. The deadline for submissions is Friday, June 17, 2016 at 11:59 pm ET.

Learn more at whitehouse.gov.

And to help us keep you informed about great free educational programs and resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

Image and video: The White House

History, Legacy, and Family.

  • May 20, 2016

Roots Hero

Television history was made in 1977 when the epic ABC miniseries Roots drew unprecedented ratings and completely captured the nation’s attention for 8 consecutive nights. Based on the best-selling book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, by author Alex Haley, it told the story of generations descended from an African teenager named Kunta Kinte after he is brought to America as a slave.

Now, the HISTORY channel goes back to the source material for a 4-night, 8-hour “re-imagining” of Roots premiering this Memorial Day. And true to form, they have compiled a standards-based Education Guide and extensive resources to help teachers make the most of this unique opportunity for learning.

“Nearly 40 years ago I had the privilege to be a part of an epic television event that started an important conversation in America,” says LeVar Burton, a Co-Executive Producer of the new series, who portrayed young Kunta Kinte in the original. “I am incredibly proud to be a part of this new retelling and start the dialogue again, at a time when it is needed more than ever.”

Roots premieres Monday, May 30 at 9/8c on HISTORY channel. For a preview visit the HISTORY website.

The Education Guide and other great resources are available at History Classroom.

And to help us keep you informed about other great free educational programs and resources, bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Roots images: HISTORY

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