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The Best Public Television Resources of 2011

posted on December 29, 2011

The Best Public Television Resources of 2011

2011 has been an exciting year regarding media. Many students entering high school today were likely born into homes with some sort of access to the Internet. People are consuming more media today than any other time in history. Increasingly, more teachers are seeking professional development through online media than through traditional sources. And cell phones, tablet computers, and other mobile devices offer new ways to access media that are radically changing what students need to know in a 21st century world.

The need for high-quality, on-demand, digital resources has never been greater, content that is as entertaining as it is educational, informative as it is inspiring. Public media continues to deliver this content to students, teachers, and life-long learners. 2011 saw the birth of some innovative educational resources that are truly changing the way teachers access and use media in the classroom. Here is a list of the top ten public media resources available through Iowa Public Television.

1. PBS LearningMedia

Launched in June, PBS LearningMedia contains a massive collection of digital content: purpose-built video clips, audio, interactives, lesson plans, and documents. In addition to the high quality media content teachers have come to expect from PBS, the new service offers resources from other publicly funded organizations including the National Archives, the Library of Congress, NPR, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Dept. of Education, and many others. All together there are well over 18,000 resources.

Teachers can share these resources with a variety of social media tools, as well as "favorite" them. Once a content piece has been "favorited," teachers can post it to their classroom page and share it with their students on any computer with an Internet connection. Several other features allow teachers to use a media piece however they see fit.

2. PBS TeacherLine

Though PBS TeacherLine is not a new service, there is an exciting new announcement: local graduate credit from an Iowa institution is now available. In December, IPTV was pleased to announce that local graduate credit for TeacherLine courses will be offered through Morningside College.

There are over 85 PBS Teacherline courses offered in areas ranging from reading and language arts, instructional technology, science, math, and instructional strategies. These courses are all available online and provide teachers an easy, convenient way to keep up-to-date on current technology, study the latest research, and find new curricular resources.


The new PBS site designed with the goal of building upon and improving math skills launched in October. These interactive games revolve around well-known PBS kids characters, including Sid the Science Kid, Curious George, The Cat in the Hat, and the crew from The Electric Company.
PBS KIDS Lab is a cross-platform destination where kids can access the games both at home and school through mobile devices, tablets, interactive whiteboards, or computers.

Throughout the course of the next year, the PBS Interactive team hopes to create a progress tracker that will allow parents and teachers to see what skills in which games their kids have mastered.


PROHIBITION is a three-part, five-and-a-half hour documentary film series directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that tells the story of the rise, rule, and fall of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the entire era it encompassed.

The wealth of themes explored in PROHIBITION offer an extraordinary educational opportunity for your classroom. The lessons and activities on the website explore topics such as the role of the government in the lives of private citizens; a study of the Constitution and the amendment process; the immigrant experience and the evolution of American identity; and the impact of the nation's shifting demographics on politics and the exercise of power.

5. NOVA: Fabric of the Cosmos

NOVA has always been about curious people exploring interesting questions. It can take an often difficult to explain topic and produce an entertaining, educational, and informative film. In October, PBS aired The Fabric of the Cosmos, a four-hour series based on the book by renowned physicist and author Brian Greene, which takes viewers to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time, and the universe.

The series interweaves provocative theories, experiments, and stories with concise explanations and imaginative metaphors. The Fabric of the Cosmos aims to tell a compelling, visual, and comprehensive picture of modern physics. Moreover, NOVA’s website offers a variety of additional resources to help your students gain a broader understanding of physics.

6. PBS Arts Online

The arts are cross-curricular. An English teacher can show a performance of an actor playing Macbeth. A history teacher can tie a rock-an-roll clip to the women’s rights movement. And a math teacher can show the deep level of mathematical computer programming skills that are required by independent developers to create a video game.

PBS Arts Online brings the students directly into the creative process, fosters individual artistic expressions, and promotes experimentation and exploration. By presenting a broad and diverse range of artistic genres that include dance, film, music, theatre, visual art, and writing, PBS Arts reaches new audiences by making the arts accessible to all students.

7. Video Apps

Throughout the course of 2011, PBS has worked on several new apps for mobile devices. The PBS KIDS Video App available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, brings more free educational video content to students than any other children’s media app.  The app gives students free streaming access to more than 2,000 videos – including clips and full episodes – from their favorite PBS KIDS series. It has served more than 430 million video streams – an average of two million per day – and has had over 450,000 downloads to date.

The PBS Video app lets your students watch the most popular and current PBS programs free on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. The app features hundreds of videos, including full-length episodes, segments, and previews with new content updated daily.

8. PBS KIDS Online Interactives

Noah Comprende is designed as a series of interactive videos to help students learn Spanish as it is put into meaningful context. Though – like Noah – they may not understand all the Spanish dialogue, kids can comprehend the story told through rich visual storytelling, much like a silent movie. Each video features opportunities for kids to roll their cursor over objects on the screen to hear the Spanish translation. Three different vocabulary-driven, arcade-style games reinforce learning. Leveling and racing against the clock encourage replayability and repeated exposure to vocabulary.

Chuck Vanderchuck's "Something Something" Explosion is designed to help children ages 6 to 9 understand music and music composition by teaching basic musical concepts and performance skills through the study of popular song styles from around the world. In each webisode, children are introduced to a new musical style and the culture from which that style was born. They learn to perform basic rhythmic and melodic patterns in that style using fun, interactive games.

9. Teaching Channel

Everyone has a story about a remarkable teacher. The Teaching Channel has several. The Teaching Channel is a professional development site where teachers can watch educators teach. You can find lesson plans, support materials, create notebooks for your own ideas, share resources with others, and follow teachers who you would like to model. Inspired teaching, like any great art, should be seen.Teaching Channel lifts the curtain on inspiring classrooms not only on the website but also on its YouTube and Facebook channels and on IPTV.

10. American Experience: Freedom Riders

FREEDOM RIDERS is the powerful, harrowing, and ultimately inspirational story of six months in 1961 that changed America forever. From May until November 1961, more than 400 black and white Americans risked their lives—and many endured savage beatings and imprisonment—for simply traveling together on buses and trains as they journeyed through the Deep South.

The story of the FREEDOM RIDERS offers students a window into the Civil Rights Movement that allows them to identify more closely with the sacrifice and courage that was needed to secure civil rights for all Americans.

Tags: classroom service computer games digital resources education educators interactive learningmedia media learning online online learning PBS pbs education PBS Kids pbs kids go PBS LearningMedia students teachers video video games

Subjects: The ArtsLiteracy & LanguagesMathProfessional DevelopmentScience & TechnologySocial Studies


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