How Videos of Guinea Worms Inspire My Students

A teacher’s perspective on the world of possibilities media in the classroom provides

GUEST COLUMN | by Emily Dawson

Carter Eradicating Guinea WormsAs teachers, we are always looking for ways to ensure our students are not left behind. Responding to an increasingly high-tech world and changing trends in education, I am always seeking out, and frequently pay for, newer resources and relevant professional development on my own. That is to say nothing of the added pressure to continually align my lessons with the ever-evolving Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

PBS LearningMedia, a free resource for educators, has helped to answer many of my own classroom needs and has become my go-to digital destination for access to thousands of videos, photos and lesson plans that I incorporate into my classroom lessons. I can also find games and audio clips to reinforce topics I teach and free professional development relevant to my area. I can easily search, save, and share these high-quality resources with my students and peers.

Recently, I was chosen to be a part of a select group of educators called the PBS LearningMedia Teacher Core. As a junior high science educator and Response to Intervention (RTI) Coordinator, I already utilize the assets from PBS LearningMedia within my science and health classes as well as within my RTI reading groups to enrich my lessons, so I was thrilled to be a part of this new group.

Through PBS LearningMedia, I am able to easily pull digital content from such critically acclaimed PBS programs such as NOVA and PBS NEWSHOUR. Additionally, I am able to call upon content from organizations including The National Archives, Smithsonian, NPR and NASA. In turn my students are able to access these cutting-edge resources that I have saved and shared on my classroom website. Students can extend their learning at home by utilizing the resources I choose as a part of my flipped classroom lessons or to review for tests and quizzes.

Video clips, such as “The Final Fight Against Guinea Worm” have made textbook pictures come to life. My students have been able to make connections to the material through the use of the digital media that no textbook, worksheet or static picture could ever create. Students report being able to picture or replay the video clips in their heads while completing assessments showing a greater level of comprehension and retention. One student said “It was really gross to see it, but it helped me understand [the topic] better.” Whether a gross video on round worms or a glimpse into the exotic depths of the ocean, these resources make the lessons come to life in a way that a textbook alone, could never match.

Now that the final version of the NGSS is approaching, many states are planning for adoption of the new standards.  We as educators are charged with training our students for careers that exist today and those that have yet to be created.  I strive to expose my students to as many different careers as possible through a variety of activities and events. Although I host an annual career day, I cannot expose them to the full variety of potential careers that they deserve, but PBS LearningMedia has over 150 different STEM Career profiles available for my students to review. These profiles allow me to expose my students to a much broader range of careers and degree options.

The PBS LearningMedia Teacher Core utilizes the experience, expertise and passion of its members to transform classroom learning and engage fellow educators in using digital tools in classrooms nationwide. The first assignment of the twenty-eight members of the PBS Teacher Core was to meet and participate in a two-day Digital Education Summit at PBS Headquarters. During this summit we were equipped with the tools and training that will further enhance student learning. Teachers reviewed all aspects of PBS LearningMedia and were charged with taking the resources back to our schools to provide training and support to our fellow teachers.

Meeting these other educators chosen from schools across the country was inspiring and invigorating, as was hearing from them how they are using the resources differently back at their own schools. From California to Kentucky, teachers are taking advantage of the thousands of digital materials from PBS LearningMedia, and students are benefiting in ways I never imagined possible. As our classrooms become more and more tech-heavy, the content will be even more essential, and students will benefit even more.

Even when we get to that gross guinea worm video, educational technology is helping me bring lessons to life to provide a deeper learning experience for students.

Emily Dawson is a junior high school teacher from East Peoria, IL and is one of 28 teachers chosen by PBS LearningMedia for its Teacher Core

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