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

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

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

Notches, Panhandles and Jogs

  • Oct 31, 2014


“Borders are stories, and the stories are great.” 
from How the States Got Their Shapes

As a little kid growing-up in New York City, I had one of those colorful wooden puzzle maps that depicted the unique characteristics of all 50 United States. Beyond fostering a fledgling desire to visit those wonderful places where buffalo roamed, or mighty locomotives thundered past desert cactus, it challenged me to recognize states by their shapes. Texas, California and Florida were easy. Once I ventured inland, though, things grew complicated.

It would be years before I’d learn that borders actually existed in the world outside my puzzle, and decades before I’d come to fully understand the various and sundry ways these lines have snaked and shifted before settling into what we now recognize as home.

In fact, it wasn’t until I watched History Channel’s How the States Got Their Shapes that I learned Las Vegas was once in Arizona!

Based on a book by playwright and screenwriter Mark Stein, this engaging and fact-filled documentary series explores how war, politics, commerce, social revolution and even natural disasters literally shaped our nation. Hosted by National Public Radio’s Brian Unger (pictured, above), the program is an ideal complement to history, geography, and social studies curricula.

It’s not a wooden puzzle, but it’ll have to do.

History Channel’s accompanying classroom guide includes pre-viewing activities, curriculum links, discussion questions and extended activities, along with a vocabulary section and lists of recommended books and web sites. These resources are available to educators free of charge.

The program may be recorded for use in the classroom, and may also be viewed online.

Upcoming airings of How the States Got Their Shapes include:

“Mouthing Off”
The diversity of America’s state borders is matched only by the diversity of our regional accents. This episode explores the history and social impact of sounding different across the United States.
Nov. 24 at 6am/5c on History Channel Classroom (ch. 269).

“Forces of Nature”
A look at how massive geological events helped shape the land that would become America. Did you know that an asteroid created the border for three states?
Dec. 29 at 6am/5c on History Channel Classroom (ch. 269).

For more educational fun, challenge students to test their knowledge with History Channel’s interactive “Place the State” game.

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

 —Stephen Vincent D’Emidio


The 50th anniversary of freedom for many Americans offers a vital learning opportunity for us all.

  • Oct 03, 2014

civil rights 50

“Determine that a thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.” —Abraham Lincoln

It was just 50 years ago that President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, a huge milestone in the fight for freedom that began with the signing of the Declaration of Independence way back in 1776.

And of the myriad reasons this event was momentous—chief among them the fact that for the first time in their history African-Americans would enjoy the full rights of citizenship—it was an opportunity for modern America to become embroiled in an issue directly connected to the nation’s founding.

This anniversary holds special importance in America’s classrooms, and in recognition of that, History Channel has devoted an entire edition of its popular Idea Book for Educators (below) to the topic.

Created as a companion to the Library of Congress exhibition The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom, the 19-page book is chock full of ideas on teaching from primary sources, and it’s available for download free of charge.

To get your copy, visit History Channel Classroom.

And to receive more information about free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and stay in-touch with us via Twitter.

 —Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

idea book cover