Good News

  • Apr 07, 2017

GTS Media Literacy

Your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE Networks are a Great Classroom Resource for Journalism and Media Studies.


IN RECENT MONTHS, there has been so much talk and debate about the trustworthiness of news coverage that I find myself wondering about the impact it may be having on students. It’s already too easy to become jaded about information in a world where everyone seems to be talking at the same time. Do young people know how to navigate their way through the commotion and take hold of what’s important? Do they even try?

As teachers, you undoubtedly have more insight on this than most of us, and I’m willing to bet that many of you are doing whatever you can to help students understand that information consumption is not a passive activity, but rather, an exercise of the mind which requires knowledge, discernment, and the ability to consider things in context.

I believe it’s essential to help students understand that when watching the news, or even just scanning social media, they are not merely being talked at, but talked to, and that being talked to gives them power in that they have the choice to either process the information or reject it. But deciding whether a piece of information is worth holding onto requires that they think it through—put it into context, consider the source, weigh the information against what they already know.

With regard to context, consider television news. How might coverage of a story vary from channel to channel? What angle do the news presenters pursue; what facts do they choose to emphasize; and what might that decision have to do with the makeup of their viewership, or where they’re located on the map? For example, Bloomberg Television, a financial news network, may emphasize the economic implications of a news story, whereas CNN and Fox News Channel look at it through a more political lens.

The same story on ESPN News would explore its implications for the sports world, whereas the British-flavored BBC America would be more likely to look at the facts in an international context.

Your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel lineup features all these channels, along with many others that are either totally devoted to news and opinion, or feature specific news programs among their offerings. For example, there’s daily rural and agricultural news on RFD-TV; unvarnished coverage of current events on C-SPAN; and even Spanish-language news via Univision.

You could have your students do a comparative study of how different channels cover the same story, then host a discussion wherein they report their observations. Start by looking over all the services available to you in your DIRECTV SCHOOL CHOICE channel guide.

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

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Campaigns in Your Classroom

  • Dec 08, 2015


With the commencement of the Iowa Caucuses on February 1 the presidential election season will be officially underway, and your students can have a front-row seat for the entire process with DIRECTV.

If your school is among the thousands across America who have raised their hands to receive complimentary programming via our  DIRECTV Goes to School initiative, you and your students already enjoy full access to some of the very best election coverage available on television—including shows and study resources prepared specifically for education.

For example, there’s C-SPAN (DIRECTV channel 350), the highly-respected source for exhaustive and unvarnished coverage of public affairs. Live coverage of daily politics is their mainstay, and it’s backed-up by a dedicated Road to the White House 2016 web site that’s heavy on study materials and completely free-of-charge for teachers and students.

C-SPAN’s sister network, C-SPAN2 (ch. 351), is another great resource for daily public affairs coverage, and it’s also included in our DIRECTV School Choice lineup.

Other news channels in your DIRECTV lineup include Bloomberg Television (ch. 353), CNN (ch. 202) and CNN en Español (ch. 419), Fox News Channel (ch. 360), HLN (Ch. 204), and MSNBC (ch. 356)—all of which will be covering the campaigns.

And of special note this election season is CNN Student News, a ten-minute, commercial-free, daily news program designed for viewing in middle and high school classrooms. Produced by the journalists at CNN, and anchored by Carl Azuz (students love this guy), this award-winning show is new and timely each morning on the CNN Student News web site.

All in all that’s a lot of presidential campaign coverage, and it’s coming your way every day via DIRECTV School Choice. You can record shows for use in the classroom; download lesson plans to incorporate into existing curricula; or even come up with special projects for extra credit. How you “elect” to use all this great material it is up to you.

So start exploring!

And to learn about some of the other great benefits of DIRECTV School Choice, just bookmark this site for regular updates, and be sure to follow us on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Courting History

  • Oct 05, 2015


For many years now, the good folks at C-SPAN have been providing viewers with a steady stream of public affairs-oriented programming that is dependably unvarnished, deeply informational, and always of great use to educators. And this fall, the winning streak continues with the premiere of Landmark Cases.

Produced in cooperation with the National Constitution Center, Landmark Cases is a 12-part documentary series that delves deep into some of the Court’s most significant and frequently cited decisions, from 1803 (Marbury v. Madison) to 1973 (Roe v. Wade).

Each 90-minute episode will air live on C-SPAN and C-SPAN3, Monday nights at 9pm ET beginning October 5th, 2015, and will subsequently be archived for further viewing online. Check out the series  trailer, below, and be sure to visit the Landmark Cases web site.

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

Spread the Word About the C-SPAN StudentCam 2016 Short Documentary Competition!

  • Jul 30, 2015


Back-to-school season brings with it the arrival of C-SPAN’s annual StudentCam short documentary competition—a fabulous opportunity for any civic-minded student (grades 6-12) with a camera and a point of view to influence the national conversation and vie for cash prizes.

Participating schools and teacher advisers are eligible for cash prizes as well!

This year’s theme:

“Road to the White House”
What’s the issue YOU most want candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential campaign?

The contest launches officially on September 9th, and students may begin uploading their documentaries on November 2nd. The final deadline for submissions is January 20th, 2016.

Pictured above (left to right) are Anna Gilligan, Michael Lozovoy and Katie Demos, 2015′s Grand Prize-winning team of 8th graders from Lexington, Kentucky.

Imagine your own students celebrating such an accomplishment!

But win or lose, participation in the contest is an exercise in intellectual growth. Just ask Clifton Raphael, a StudentCam Teacher Advisor at Oklahoma’s Jennks High School. “StudentCam forces my students to exercise a different set of creative muscles,” says Raphael, “and it’s work that helps them in their other classes as well, whenever they have to use critical thinking and organizational skills.”

For more information, visit C-SPAN’s StudentCam.

And to stay abreast of other great opportunities and free educational resources, 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

The 2015 C-SPAN StudentCam documentary competition is on!

  • Nov 03, 2014


For some time now we’ve been telling you about the C-SPAN StudentCam short documentary competition—a great opportunity for civic-minded students (grades 6-12) to influence the national conversation and vie for cash prizes. Participating schools and teacher advisers are eligible for cash prizes as well.

The competition invites middle and high-school students to create 5 to 7-minute film on an issue of sociopolitical importance.

This year’s theme:

“The Three Branches and You”
Tell a story that demonstrates how a policy, law or action by either the Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branch has affected you or your community.

Cash prizes totaling $100,000 will be awarded to 150 winning student filmmakers and 53 teacher advisers. The submission deadline for all videos is January 20, 2015.

Let’s face it, the two things every student has these days are 1) a video camera, and 2) an opinion. Make this a year your students will never forget by showing them the doors that can open when they use those things constructively.

Listen to what this participating teacher adviser had to say:

“All of my StudentCam participants walk a little taller, (and) they exude a poise and self-confidence that the other eighth graders (who did not participate), don’t.”  —Karen Rehder, Farragut Middle School, Knoxville, TN

And this, from a proud mom:

“This is the sort of thing that he’ll remember his whole life, of course, and it’s life-changing. You can be sure that you’ve had a formidable impact on this young man, in part because of the honor of the award, but in larger part because he experienced what it’s like to make a difference in something important.”  —Sharon Webb, Mother of 2010 StudentCam winner Matthew Shimura, Honolulu, HI

For more information, visit C-SPAN StudentCam.

And if you need more inspiration, check out 2012′s First Prize-winning film from Leo Pfeifer, a then 8th-grader from Seattle, Washington (below).

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