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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A Great Way to Bring Current Events Into Your Classroom

  • May 11, 2016


This year’s presidential election has been unusual, to say the least, and no doubt it’s been a topic of conversation in your classrooms. And whether you and your students are studying current events or simply discussing them, there are available to you a host of channels and free resources that can help make any such engagement educational.

Today we bring you news of yet another terrific election resources from educational publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and our friends at HISTORY. HMH Election Connection is a free online resource billed as a “comprehensive, one-stop information hub for current and historical election coverage.” Geared toward students in grades 6 through 12, the site includes a wide range of materials, including daily news broadcasts, lesson plans, HISTORY videos, and readers.

There are also activities available, including guidelines for conducting a mock election, and one particularly interesting project designed to help students recognize propaganda.

Overall, HMH Election Connection is a solid resource with lots to offer the creative educator. Check out the website today. For additional election resources, visit HISTORY.

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

Image: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/HISTORY

Apply Today for the C-SPAN 2016 Teacher Fellowship Program

  • Jan 25, 2016


If you are a state certified middle or high school teacher (U.S. History, Civics, Government, or related curriculum) who uses C-SPAN resources in your classroom, you could find yourself in the nation’s capital this summer helping to shape education nationwide!

C-SPAN is seeking innovative educators for its 2016 Teacher Fellowship Program, which will take place over the course of four consecutive weeks this June-July at the network’s offices in Washing, DC.

Chosen Fellows will collaborate with the C-SPAN Education department to develop new teaching materials using the network’s vast library of resources, and participants will also be invited to brainstorm ideas with fellow teachers at a series of educator conferences.

And to seal the deal, each Fellow receives a stipend of $7,000 to cover housing, travel, and living expenses.

So, what are you doing this summer?

Registration is open until Friday, February 26, 2016. For more information visit C-SPAN Classroom.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


War Stories

  • Jan 08, 2016


It’s nearly impossible for the uninitiated to fully appreciate what it’s like to be a soldier at war, and yet it’s really the duty of every American to at least try. After all, the personal sacrifices made by the members of our military, the harrowing experiences and losses endured by even those who return to us fully intact, are made on our behalf.

So with an eye toward understanding, we’re proud to help get the word out about History Channel’s Live to Tell, a new series that offers warriors who’ve served on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq the opportunity to share their personal experiences of war.

Relevant to current events, history and politics courses, the program is recommended for students in 10th grade and above.

Live to Tell premieres Sunday, January 10th at 10/9c on HISTORY (channel 269 in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup). All episodes will also be available for streaming subsequent to airing.

You can watch the series trailer, below.

And for news about other great educational programs, bookmark this site and be sure to follow DIRECTV GOES TO SCHOOL on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

The Civil War Restored

  • Jul 23, 2015

Civil War

UPDATE: If you missed the recent broadcast of Ken Burns’ The Civil War, the entire series is still available for streaming via PBS Video! Learn more.

This September, on the 25th anniversary of its original broadcast, Ken Burns’ landmark documentary series The Civil War will return to PBS—only this time, for the first time—in glorious high definition, accompanied by free, standards-based lesson plans and classroom activities for grades 5-12.

What’s more, educators are invited to record the 5-part series and archive it for classroom use for up to one year from broadcast.

Twenty-five years ago, The Civil War captured America’s attention like no other television documentary had in decades. Scholarly, yet as riveting as a well-crafted drama, it attracted nearly 40 million viewers and made a brand of documentarian Ken Burns (Baseball; The War; The National Parks: America’s Best Idea).

“When The Civil War first appeared on PBS in the fall of 1990, no one—myself included—was at all prepared for the overwhelming national response that followed,” says Burns (pictured below [r.], with the late historian and author Shelby Foote, one of the The Civil War‘s commentators). “The film was then, as it is now, a timely reminder of the frightful cost our ancestors paid to make this nation a truly United States. It is a chronicle of making permanent that which was promised, but not delivered, in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”

While the educational value of a film like this is self-evident, PBS has gone the extra mile by creating a variety of free lesson plans, activities, and other resources, including ideas from teachers who’ve used the program in their classrooms.

“The series can’t replace the teacher or the classroom, but in conjunction with what you as the teacher do, it can make the era come alive in a way never before possible,” says Burns.

The Civil War in high-definition will air over the course of five nights, September 7-11, on PBS (check local listings).

For more information and educational resources visit the official Civil War web site, and look for the “classroom” tab.

And to find out about other great educational shows and resources, simply bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


Selling presidents since 1952

  • Feb 19, 2015


“Advertising agencies have tried openly to sell presidents since 1952,” wrote Joe McGinniss in his seminal 1969 book, The Selling of the President 1968.

And the fact that his observation seems almost quaint in today’s media-saturated political culture suggests that we’ve failed to heed the warning.

Today, more than ever, presidential candidates aren’t so much presented to us as they are sold to us like products—packaged, branded, and target-marketed to various consumer groups. It’s hardly an ideal way to choose leaders, but how many of us, especially young people, ever stop to think about that, much less factor it into our voting?

Sounds like a great topic for classroom study, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, the bright folks at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image have put together an online exhibition entitled The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-2012, an exhaustive archive of campaign commercials accompanied by free, common core standards-based lesson plans in English Language Arts and Social Studies.

It’s all you’ll need to launch your own eye-opening study in media literacy and critical thinking.

Check it out for yourself. Visit The Living Room Candidate today.

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


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

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

Constitution Day in the classroom with C-SPAN

  • Sep 05, 2014

1856 depiction of the 1787 Constitutional Convention by Junius Brutus Stearns

I must admit that it came as a surprise to me today to learn that a federal law passed in 2004 requires all schools that receive federal funding to teach about the Constitution every September 17, the anniversary of its adoption in 1787, as part of what’s officially recognized as Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

Which makes sense in an American classroom, of course. But nevertheless when word of the new law got around in 2005 it was met with some surprise by educators. As one social studies teacher told the Washington Post, “We already have one of those. It’s called our curriculum.”

Now, if you’re a history or social studies teacher in a federally-funded school this is probably old news. But in case you’re late to the dance, like me, don’t panic. September 17th is approaching fast but you’ll be happy to know that C-SPAN Classroom has got you covered with a free, well-crafted lesson plan that you can easily incorporate into your curriculum. It’s designed for one 90-minute or two 45-minute classes, and built around the central question “How is the U.S. Constitution different from other countries’ Constitutions?”.

You’ll find the lesson plan here.

Happy Constitution Day and Citizenship Day!

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


(painting, top: 1856 depiction of the 1787 Constitutional Convention by Junius Brutus Stearns)