An Historic Development

  • Apr 26, 2016


With the recent announcement that abolitionist Harriet Tubman (right) will replace President Andrew Jackson on the face of our $20 bill comes a great educational opportunity comprising history, social studies, civil rights, and government studies—a teachable moment that springs from a little slice of history that’s unfolding right before our eyes, and, more to the point, right before the eyes of our students.

With that in mind, our friends at History Classroom have made available a free, downloadable study guide entitled Redesigning Our Nation’s Currency, a handy overview of the history and process of American currency redesign. Also included are suggested classroom activities and links for further study.

If you decide to investigate this resource you’ll no doubt quickly determine that it was created back when the only bill under consideration for redesign was the 10. Now we’re doing three bills, but the study guide certainly holds up as a tool for educators seeking to help students of all ages navigate this important story.

See for yourself on History Classroom’s website.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

20 Front

Image credits:
Harriet Tubman: Ohio History Connection (OHC), dated circa 1887 by H.G. Smith, Studio Building, Boston.
$20 bill: Wikipedia; public domain

Making the World Just a Little Bit Smaller

  • Apr 18, 2016


Earlier this year, we put out a call to adventure and high-school students answered—from the United States and Latin America, young people raised their hands for a chance to win an all-expense-paid National Geographic Student Expediton of their choice, courtesy of DIRECTV and Nat Geo Mundo Explorer.

And we have our winners!

Hailing from Alabama, Ecuador and Uruguay, our explorers will be spending this summer in such diverse places as Tanzania, Peru and Nepal, doing things like tutoring children, rebuilding homes that were damaged in an earthquake, and experiencing the wonders of Machu Picchu and Mount Kiliminjaro.

Congratulations to all!

Check out this blog post for more on our lucky winners and their big plans for summer. To learn more about National Geographic Student Expeditions, simply visit their official website.

And be sure to follow us on Twitter. We’ll keep you up-to-date on other great opportunities and free educational resources.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Image credit: National Geographic Student Expeditions

Educational Resources That Are On the Money

  • Apr 08, 2016

Would it surprise you to learn that, as of right now, only 20 states require that high school students study economics? And according to a report by CNBC, that’s actually 2 less than the number that required it in 2014.

It certainly surprised me, considering the important role that money plays in the quality of our lives, especially with regard to smart stewardship.

With that in mind, we’d like to call your attention to, a free resource from the Federal Financial Literacy and Education Commission established (as it says on the website) “to strengthen financial capability and increase access to financial services for all Americans.”

The site features a section devoted exclusively to teachers and educators, featuring curricula, lesson plans, tip sheets, guidance, and helpful tools for teaching financial capability. The topic range is wide, covering everything from savings and investment to taxes and student aid, and there are materials available for students PreK-12, much of it standards-aligned.

Check it out for yourself. Visit today.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

image credit:

Your SCHOOL CHOICE Networks Bring a World of Learning and Life Experience to the Classroom

  • Mar 30, 2016


Recently, I was looking over the DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup and it occurred to me all over again just what a wide variety of educational benefits there are to be drawn from the networks and programming being delivered to teachers and students all across the country each day.

There’s STEM-related programming; history and geography; education in fine arts, language, and nature; as well as news, economics, and much, much more.

And then there are the networks and programs that wonderfully demonstrate—and celebrate—the value of everyday life skills. From cooking and sewing to building and exploring, channels like HGTV, Food Network, Travel Channel, and DIY Network are a great way to teach students the real-world value of learning to do things.

These popular networks are essentially about living life—creating, innovating, beautifying, and discovering. Not to mention inspiring. For example:

  • The little chefs of Food Network’s Chopped Junior—ordinary children whose culinary skills can nonetheless impress a panel of world-class masters.
  • Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s Fixer Upper, who through a combination of building skills, artistic flair and love have built a wonderful life for themselves—not to mention some houses that are to die for!
  • Or how about Josh Gates of Travel Channel’s Expedition Unknown, who makes a strong case for exploring the world less like a tourist and more like Indiana Jones.
  • And then there’s DIY, or, the Do It Yourself Network—a channel that’s wall-to-wall with projects that can bring out the builder and fixer-upper in all of us.

Explore for yourself what these channels have to offer, and think about ways that you might use them to inspire your students.

HGTV is channel 229 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup; Food Network is channel 231; Travel Channel 277; and DIY Network is channel 230.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Summer Learning for Teachers

  • Mar 30, 2016

Discovery Education

Teachers, have you got any plans for this summer? I sure hope so, because you deserve it. And as you make those plans you might want to consider spending some time between excursions connecting with other teachers, and being inspired, by taking advantage of Discovery Education in Action‘s free Webinar series—a great way to recharge your batteries and transform your teaching.

From Discovery’s catalogue: “Join us as we step into Discovery Educators’ classrooms from around globe. In this series you’ll hear practical tips and see strategies for integrating Discovery Education into your teaching. Listen, connect, and be inspired as our Community shares ways they are transforming teaching and learning.”

You’ll find more information about these Discovery Education in Action Webinars on the Discovery website, but in order to give you some idea of what’s available, here’s a breakdown:

  • May 31  STEM
  • June 21  Collaborative Projects
  • July 26  Top 10 Takeaways from DEN Summer Institute 2016 (DEN Summer Institute is a weeklong residential-style event, being held this July in Chicago, focused on professional learning, leadership, and networking. For info on attending, visit DEN online).
  • August 30  Back-to-School

There will also be a series of live Day of Discovery events held in various cities throughout the summer. Visit Discovery online for more information on those opportunities.

So, have a great summer! And to help us keep you informed about great free educational programs and resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

C-SPAN Is Election Central for Students and Teachers!

  • Mar 23, 2016


The race for the White House is on, and C-SPAN Classroom has earned our endorsement for once again providing teachers with the best, most educational lesson plans, activities, and materials—including a 2016 Electoral College Map poster (pictured, below) available free-of-charge for registered C-SPAN Classroom members!

This large, beautiful graphic, which will look great in your classroom, is designed to facilitate educational discussion on a variety of topics relating to the 2016 election, and is suited to a wide range of grade levels. How you use it is up to you, but if you’re looking for ideas there is a collection of lesson plans and activities available at C-SPAN Classroom as well.

Sign-up and request your poster today. Registration is also free.

But wait, there’s more!

C-SPAN Classroom has also put together a wonderful collection of resources (developed by teachers) that cover all aspects of the election process, from candidates and campaign ads to polling, campaign financing, and debate—each topic supplemented with related video clips, discussion questions, handouts, and culminating activities to reinforce students’ learning.

Check it out for yourself. These resources are all free-of-charge, and available right now on the C-SPAN Classroom website.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Educational Activities for Student Shutterbugs

  • Mar 22, 2016


Of all the educational resources we write about in this blog, none is more unique than Ovation TV’s Arts Ed Toolkit, a well-curated collection of documentaries and series accompanied by free, downloadable lesson plans and activities.

I say unique not only because Ovation TV is really the only network of its kind—dedicated as much to arts advocacy as it is to being television’s premiere arts network—but because a big part of their mission is devoted to arts education, which, let’s face it, no longer receives the attention it deserves in most quarters.

And so with that in mind we are happy to once again bring your attention to Ovation TV’s Arts Ed Toolkit. Specifically, a unit they’re offering right now entitled The Art of: Photography.

Comprised of streaming video and downloadable lesson plans, the package explores the work of three world class photographers with an emphasis on what inspires their art. The accompanying lessons, aimed at students in grades 9 through 12, are well structured, and aligned with national standards. As always, the material is available to teachers free of charge.

You can learn more on the official Arts Ed Toolkit website.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio




The Results Are In!

  • Mar 16, 2016


“With the presidential campaign in the forefront of people’s minds, we wanted to hear from students across the country about the issues that matter to them,” says Craig McAndrew, C-SPAN’s Manager of Education Relations.

And hear they did! Nearly 6,000 student filmmakers (in grades 6-8) took part in this year’s C-SPAN StudentCam documentary competition, creating 2,887 films based on the theme: “Road to the White House: What’s the issue YOU want candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential election?”

As it turned out, the top three issues chosen by students this cycle had to do with the economy, equality, and education, and the films they created by which to express themselves were stellar even for this competition, which has been bringing out the best in student filmmakers since 2006. In all, 150 students and 53 teachers were awarded prizes. But it was 10th-grade student Olivia Hurd of Jenks, Oklahoma (below), who scored the year’s top spot with her thoroughly engaging documentary about the national debt, Up to Our Necks.

We congratulate Olivia, along with all of this year’s winning teachers and students!

Learn more about the competition and watch all the winning entries on the official StudentCam website.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Space-Based STEM Education for the Scientists of Tomorrow

  • Mar 09, 2016


Of all students, elementary-schoolers are probably the best equipped to respond to STEM education that is presented in the context of space exploration and adventure. I say that because younger kids are still firmly in-touch with their innate sense of wonder, and more importantly, still open enough to believe that if they dream big and work hard, they can achieve amazing things.

It’s their universe as much as it is ours, after all, and the good folks at NASA Education have come up with a cool new way to help them take hold of it—via a thoroughly engaging collection of science, technology, engineering, and math resources.

NASA Space Place is a free educational website for elementary students, their teachers, and their parents. Loaded with educational classroom activities, videos, experiments, and games, it’s a great place to learn, play, and grow. Teachers can use the materials they find on Space Place to build lesson plans that align with the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, many of the classroom activities featured can easily be adapted to the high school classroom.

Explore NASA Space Place for yourself.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Grammar School

  • Mar 03, 2016


“Avoid commas, that are unnecessary.”
                                                 —William Safire

If you get the joke, chances are you’ll see the value of No Nonsense Grammar, a series of downloadable videos and lesson plans available free of charge from PBS LearningMedia for Students.

The materials, which are aimed at elementary and middle-school students, are divided into five categories: Punctuation; Capitalization & Spelling; Verb Tense, Mood & Voice; Usage; and Sentence Structure. The videos are humorous and engaging (see screen grabs, below), and the accompanying materials—which include standards-based lesson plans, activities, and handouts—are well organized and easily digestible. All in all, it’s yet another fine educational offering from the good folks at PBS.

Check out the collection for yourself. Visit No Nonsese Grammar today.

And to learn about other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Collective Noun