Media in the Classroom | September 1, 2020

Back to School: 5 Ways PBS Has Got You Covered!

By Hannah Dawe

Whether your students are learning remotely, in person, or anywhere in between, we know that the 2020-2021 school year will be anything other than normal. PBS and WNET have resources to help support your learners, from PreK through 12th grade. Take a look at these various media resources, all 100% free (that’s right…FREE!), for both educators and caregivers to use this school year.   

#1 – On-Air Instructional Learning

What could be better than telling your students their homework assignment is to watch TV? WNET has two major broadcast initiatives to engage learners at home with local educators delivering on-air lessons.  

Our popular Let’s Learn NYC! series will continue this fall, featuring lessons curated and taught by NYC Department of Education professionals. For 3K – 2nd grade, join for a daily read aloud, as well as literacy, science, social studies, arts segments and more. Episodes are available nationally online with both English and Spanish captions, and starting this summer, read aloud segments will feature ASL interpretation on air.     

Make sure to catch the Let’s Learn NYC Families! Back-to-School special, airing on Thirteen Sunday, 9/13 at 9:00am, WLIW on Tuesday, 9/15 at 7:30pm, and on NJTV, Monday, 9/14 at 3pm & Wednesday, 9/16 at 8:30pm. 

Starting Tuesday, September 8th, you can catch more of your favorite local teachers on WLIW21, with Let’s Learn NYC! at 9 am, as well as NJTV Learning Live at 10am and 11am.    

 #2 – Free Digital Resources on PBS LearningMedia

Prepare to be overwhelmed…in the best possible way. PBS LearningMedia is a treasure trove of resources for teachers and parents to use with their kids. PBS LearningMedia lets you engage with high-quality PBS media and educational resourcescreated and curated by PBS education staff members 

This fall, check out one of our favorite new additions to PBS LearningMedia: the Unladylike 2020 collection, a series of 26 digital shorts featuring diverse trailblazing women from the Progressive Era. You and your students can learn about women like Mary Church Terrell, a suffragist and co-founder of the NAACP; Zitkála-Šáa Yankton Sioux author, composer, and indigenous rights activist; and Margaret Chungthe first American-born Chinese female doctor. This American Masters series is a must for social studies teachers and families alike to learn about this little-known, diverse group of women.  

Other favorites include the Ken Burns in the Classroom collection, resources to confront Anti-Black Racismour toolkit to PBS’s national storytelling initiative American Portraitand the Sesame Street collection 

New to PBS LearningMedia? Start with our back to school collection to learn more about how to navigate the site.  

#3 – Mission US

These days, it may be difficult to travel, but how about some time travel to intrigue your learners? Mission US is WNET’saward-winningeducational media project that immerses young people in transformational moments from U.S. history. 

Developed for use by middle school students in the classroom and beyond, Mission US lets students dive into history with narrative-driven interactive games, empowering them to make decisions and experience life as a young person during significant historical moments. Students become characters like Little Fox, a Northern Cheyenne boy, helping his tribe survive in 1866, or Lena Brodsky, a 14-year-old Jewish immigrant in 1907 starting a new life in America 

Our newest game, Prisoner in My Homeland, will launch on September 14. The game focuses on the experience of a Japanese American teenage boy during World War II.  

Learn about how to use Mission US at home and get ready to explore history up close.  

(Note: Mission US is committed to teaching complicated and sensitive topics in American history. We recommend that teachers/parents preview game content to make sure it is appropriate for their students/children.) 

#4 – Continue Learning with Workshops and Webinars  

Stay supported all year round with digital workshops and webinars from WNET and PBSTune in to previous webinars, like Distance LearningPrepping for a Very Different School Year: Strategies for Parents; and Tools for Anti-Racist Teaching hosted by PBSYou can also watch WNET’s local workshop focused on Blended Learning for the 2020-2021 school year. 

For interactive workshops with your littlest learners, join ourStay and Play sessions, available inEnglishandSpanish. Make sure to look out for new sessions coming this fall.  

Want even more 

WNET offers free workshops for parents and early childcare providers throughout New York City all year. During interactive virtual sessions, you’ll learn how to strategize using screen time and PBS KIDS to support academic, social-emotional and STEM learning for young children. To host a free session for your school, community, or organization or for more information, emailWorkshops@wnet.org. (And make sure to sign up for our newsletter to learn about upcoming events, too.)  

#5 – Regularly scheduled programming

Don’t forget: your local public media station wants to keep you entertained, too! This fall, let stories from American Portrait tug at your heart strings, explore the world from your couch while watching Nature, and treat yourself to a virtual night at theater with Great Performances 

Before tucking in your kiddos, you can watch reruns of Camp TV or new episodes of Cyberchase as a family.  

So, kick back, relax, and veg out on PBS content! 100% guilt-free 


Hannah Dawe is the Learning Partnerships and Engagement Specialist for WNET’s Kids’ Media & Education department.