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


Let’s Inspire the Next Generation to TEACH with a Free Online Screening of The Road to TEACH

  • Apr 30, 2015

The Road To TEACH artwork

The TEACH campaign needs your help inspiring the next generation to teach. How do we create the awareness that passionate, innovative students should consider the profession of teaching, that teaching is the 21st century job?

Participant Media’s TEACH campaign is offering a free online screening of The Road to TEACH beginning Teacher Appreciation Day (May 5) and lasting through the end of the school year. Produced in partnership with Roadtrip Nation last summer, the documentary follows three college students (below), all aspiring teachers, through the world of education as they contemplate their futures and begin to understand the vast opportunities, personal rewards, and vital need for passionate young people to reach.

Click here to watch The Road to TEACH.

After that, please consider pledging your passion and expertise to support great teaching, and help students who might have the calling find their way into the profession.

Both pledges will enable you to receive useful information about the TEACH campaign, it’s alliances, and opportunities to support and/or become a teacher.

What else can you as an educator do to promote your profession?

TEACH campaign and Roadtrip Nation invite you to Share Your Road, an exciting opportunity to talk about your own personal journey into the classroom and inspire the next generation to follow in your footsteps. The uploaded interviews become part of Roadtrip Nation’s interactive career development curriculum, currently in 7,000 high schools across the country. So Share Your Road today!

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


DIRECTV honors Teacher Stories winner Joan Colalillo

  • Nov 13, 2014

Joan Colalillo DirecTV 2

For some time now, we’ve been telling you about DIRECTV’s ongoing engagement with the social action platform TakePart, specifically, their brilliant “Teacher Stories” initiative whereby students were invited to spotlight a teacher who’s had an impact on their lives.

More than 850 teachers have been honored, and last month, of that number, five teachers were selected by DIRECTV as winners for their outstanding achievements in math. Each received free DIRECTV service for a year, and there were also cash prizes for schools as well as sponsorship of a math project and/or a math-related field trip through

We were so intrigued by the praise heaped upon these winning teachers that we decided to learn more.

Meet Joan Colalillo (right), 1st-grade math teacher at Penny Road Elementary in Cary, North Carolina. She’s also taught 3rd and 4th grade and has an infectious enthusiasm for what she does.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What made you want to become a teacher?

When I was younger I was told by my parents that I wasn’t going to be able to go to college, so I entered the business world instead. I worked for a while in corporate America in administrative/marketing areas, even in NYC. However, I began to realize that my passion wasn’t there – it was rooted in my childhood dreams of being a teacher. So, I began going to school at night and worked during the day while raising a family, too. It was a long road but it is a story that I can share with my students about perseverance.

What have been the highlights of your career and maybe some of the biggest challenges?

Once I graduated, I decided that I could, in fact, realize my dreams, so I continued on to finish my Masters of Education degree, with a Reading Specialist certification. Then, I decided to tackle National Boards and passed! I became a National Board Certified teacher last year in Early Middle Childhood literacy. This past year, I surpassed even my own aspirations and was chosen to be a part of NC Governor’s Teacher Network, writing lesson plans for our teachers across the state, while continuing to work full time.

I am now in my 7th year of teaching and I am back in first grade. I love every minute with my “lovebugs” and they know it! Being named Teacher of Year at my previous school was another highlight, however being nominated by parents for this award is just confirmation of the hard work I do every single day to go above and beyond for my students and their families.

My biggest challenge is always finding enough money personally to do all the many fun and engaging things I want to do for them.

 Why do you love to teach math, and why do you think students need a solid foundation in the subject?

I love teaching math because it is so hands-on and really engages all learners. So many students struggling in, say, reading, can find success in math because it is so much more concrete. They can use manipulatives and become tactile learners to problem-solve and be critical thinkers. That is not as easy to do in other subject areas.

I love the confidence, excitement and joy that math success brings to my students. I love to see them get creative in the ways they approach a problem.

When my 3rd and 4th graders didn’t have a solid foundation in number sense and fluency, it truly impacted the curriculum that I needed to teach them and it was very difficult to fill in the gaps for students who missed that earlier foundation years before. Now, back in first grade, I hold high expectations for my students, knowing full well just how important my job is for their future success. It is a responsibility I hold with high regard as I do my job day in and day out.

Tell us about some of the ways in which you’ve engaged your students; how you’ve helped them reach that all-important “A-ha!” moment when they truly grasp a concept.  

I find fun and engaging ways to teach. My philosophy is that learning can be fun. Yes, it’s work, but I want my students to not only learn something for a day or week—I want them to retain it. One way I like to do that is with songs.

For example, students often mix up area and perimeter. But through a fun rap song I found online, my students were able to get up, get dancing and remember that fun song in their heads. I could literally see some of them in their seats bouncing to the rhythm as we took an assessment and they sang the song in their heads!

Then there are the times when students would realize that they were using multiple content areas – like, “WOW, Mrs. C, I just used reading in math!” Or, when we used live worms to investigate how worms react to light, and then we measured the distance the worms traveled on their desks. We had studied how to measure accurately for a while, and then I made them use it. It’s so much more powerful.

With first-graders, it comes in the forms of teaching addends and sums; and helping struggling students to identify the unknown.

After a multitude of math games and fun ways to teach addition and subtraction, something still wasn’t clicking for some students. That’s when I realized I could also use my balance/scale to really emphasize how the “=” sign meant that everything before the equal sign and everything after had to be the same value. We used counters and cubes and realized that we could find the sum by making sure our scale was in balance. Their eyes glistened a little as that spark of recognition hit! I was like, finally, they’ve got it! What a rewarding moment after weeks of work.

Being a math teacher is an effort in dedication, and constantly trying to find a variety of tools and strategies that students can use to help them be problem solvers. It’s games, interactive Smartboard lessons, manipulatives, songs, dancing, physical act-outs (like people ten frames) and so much more!

What have you learned that other teachers might find useful?

No matter what the grade level the most important thing you can do for your students is build relationships with them. If you get to know them, their likes and their dislikes, show how much you love and care for them, they will try ten-times harder to reach your expectations. Whether it’s math, reading or science, I challenge students to “raise the bar” at every turn. I encourage them to continue their learning at home and reward that extra work back at school. I already have around nine first-grade students that complete extra homework on their own almost nightly. Not because I ask them to . . . but because I have tried to inspire that love of learning inside them and they know just how proud I am of them.

Games and creative ways to get your material across are just a daily part of my teaching, making everything authentic and real to their world is even more effective. But nothing provides more of punch than the relationship I work on every single day with my students. None leave at the end of the day without a hug and an “I love you!” It could be the only time some of them hear it or get a hug that day. You just never know!

Do you have a favorite resource or website that you use for lesson planning or professional development?

Honestly, my favorite resource right now is Teacherspayteachers. Teachers that are in the field every day teaching their standards are the best sources for great material. I can often find great ideas on that site, as well as other wonderful teachers sharing their ideas on Pinterest!

I always LOVE a great idea!

Right now our school is implementing Model Drawing through Singapore Math, as well as stressing number bonds, ten frames and compensation to solve and compute. I’ve attended training with my principal, Mary Bohr, who is insightful and research-minded when she brings ideas the staff. I was invited to attend that conference, and the model drawing strategy for problem solving is eye opening. I only wish I had learned this way when I was in school. I highly recommend anyone looking into model drawing to take a workshop. You’ll be glad you did. It’s extremely effective for students that need that Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract representation in math.

Our kids deserve to be top in the world in math, too!


Be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 —Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

First-year teachers receive a big helping hand from Discovery Education.

  • Sep 13, 2014


When we think of leadership as a vocation we most likely think of elected officials, military figures, team captains or corporate executives. But there’s no better example of professional leadership than a teacher—tasked each day with shepherding a roomful of diverse personalities (and their myriad issues) into some strange new area of knowledge. And not simply to lead them there, but to ensure that it becomes so woven into their thought process that it becomes a solid building block in what will eventually be the structure of their formal education.

And insofar as each student will eventually take this education out into the world, the teacher-as-leader—from K through 12 and beyond—is helping to build not only a person, but a society.

And a world! No pressure.

So with that in mind, our hearts and hands go out today to the person most likely to become a bit woozy at the very thought of all this: the rookie teacher. Now just weeks into their first semester in front of a class, the enormity of it all is beginning to sink in…

These are people in my charge. Just kids, for crying out loud! What if I make a mistake and ruin them for life? You’re telling me I’d be ruining the world, too? Yikes!

Relax. You’ve been trained for this. And for what it’s worth, the fact that you take hold of this responsibility with trembling hands only proves that you are a leader worthy of the title.

So enter that classroom with confidence. Find a mentor if you can. And while you look be sure to check out Discovery Education’s web site New Teacher Survival Central, a terrific free resource designed to help you make it through your first year. Quite frankly, there’s plenty of good info available on the site for more experienced teachers as well—from lesson plans and teacher blogs to helpful videos and opportunities for professional development.

There’s even a whole section on classroom management. Bet you’ve been thinking about that lately.

But seriously, enjoy your rookie year. And on behalf of the world, we thank you for your service.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

NOTE: Discovery Channel is channel 278 in your DIRECTV School Choice programming package.

Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week by watching the inspiring documentary TEACH and submitting Teacher Stories on

  • May 06, 2014


“Their well-being, their future, really depend on how well I prepare them for the next level. “

Matt Johnson, a teacher at Denver, Colorado’s McGlone Elementary

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a teacher, and I’m willing to bet that the quote above resonates with you. Because like the teacher who said it, you have a profound grasp on the role you play in shaping lives. And every day, you carry that sense of mission and responsibility into the classroom.

Do you ever wish that more people recognized that? I do, and that’s why I’m recommending that you do two things:

1) Tell every student and former student you know about a cool new contest called Teacher Stories (info below).

2) Host a community screening of the groundbreaking documentary TEACH, from Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth; Waiting For Superman).

Watch the “TEACH” trailer.

Hosted by Queen Latifah, the film follows four dedicated public school teachers over the course of  the 2013 school year as they navigate challenges, talk about their experiences and demonstrate the kind of tenacity and creativity it takes to make education work, sometimes in-spite of the circumstances.  It’s a rare, intimate look inside the reality of what you actually do every day, and as calling cards go you couldn’t ask for better.

The film’s creators want to help you host a screening of TEACH at your school. Why not take this opportunity to gather staff, parents, community leaders and others for an evening of helpful discussion and healthy relationship-building? There’s even a free discussion guide that will help you start the dialogue. As I said, you’ve embraced the mission. Here’s a good way to help the community embrace it as well.

For information on hosting a screening at your school, visit the official TEACH web site.

And while you’re there, be sure to check out Teacher Stories, a contest open to anyone 13 years or older who’d like to do a little bragging about a teacher who made a difference in their lives. Every eligible story submitted will go toward raising a $50,000 donation to U.S. public schools, and your entry might even win a direct cash prize for your school.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio