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


Math Rocks!

  • Apr 10, 2015


In case you haven’t noticed, math is trending these days, as millions of young people suddenly realize that math is not simply an obstacle to overcome in school, but the language of the universe, a vehicle for human advancement, or, as English philosopher and Franciscan friar Roger Bacon long ago observed, “the door and the key to the sciences.”

In an increasingly technological world, math is also an increasingly marketable career skill.

I bring this up because we find ourselves in the middle of National Mathematics Awareness Month, which is celebrated every April thanks to the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, and since we here at DIRECTV are enthusiastic supporters of STEM education in all its forms, we’ll be bringing you news and information about math-related classroom resources throughout the month and beyond.

Today we call your attention to PBS LearningMedia and the resources they’ve curated specifically for National Mathematics Awareness Month—a collection of engaging and well-produced videos covering everything from prime numbers and algorithms to cyber codes and math in nature. These materials are freely available for teachers and students in grades 3-12.

You find it all here.

In order to give you some idea of just how much fun these videos are, I recommend you check out the sample below, wherein the late, great song man Rob Morsberger musically brainstorms prime numbers with a group of mathematicians.

And to stay abreast of other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Antiques Roadshow honors Black History Month

  • Feb 06, 2015


“Objects are what matter. Only they carry the evidence that throughout the centuries something really happened among human beings.” Claude Levi-Strauss

Isn’t that really the grand allure of PBS’s most highly-rated series, Antiques Roadshow ? Beyond the obvious thrill of seeing someone find out that they’re dusty old attic discovery is worth a bundle, it’s in learning the history of said object that we all get to walk away from the show a little richer.

And history is set to come alive in a very special way this coming Monday as Antiques Roadshow honors Black History Month with a special episode, Celebrating Black Americana. Highlights include the intriguing 1885 oil painting Dancing for Eels; an 1821 U.S. citizenship certificate for George Barker, a free man of color; an African-American beauty book written by Madam C.J. Walker, the first American female millionaire; and a trip with host Mark L. Walberg and appraiser Leila Dunbar to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.

Check out the preview, below.

Antiques Roadshow: Celebrating Black Americana airs Monday, February 9, 2015 at  9/8C. For helpful suggestions on how to use Antiques Roadshow in your classroom (grades 7-12), visit PBS LearningMedia.

And for more information on fun, educational shows like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

PBS is looking for America’s most innovative educators!

  • Jan 08, 2015

Digital Innovators

Long, long ago, the chalkboard arrived as an innovative new tool for classroom instruction. Undoubtedly some teachers balked. Others, however, saw the potential benefits a board offered their students and became the first to learn how not to screech chalk, and always clap erasers outside the window.

If you’re one of those teachers who’s still embracing what’s new in education technology, the good folks at PBS would like to invite you to apply to the 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program, a yearlong professional development opportunity designed to “reward, foster and grow a community of 100 tech-savvy educators making an impact in their classrooms.”

Application to the program is easy, and selected teachers will enjoy a host of benefits including access to exclusive virtual trainings and resources, as well as a shot at a three day, all-expense paid trip to Philadelphia to participate in the PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Summit and the prestigious ISTE Conference in late June, 2015.

The deadline for application is February 11, 2015, so get started!

PBS LearningMedia is the destination for free PreK-12 digital classroom content. While you’re on the site, be sure to check out all the great educational resources available —100k+ digital resources, in fact, covering all subjects, from 205 trusted media partners and aligned to national and Common Core State Standards.

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