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WFSU – A Special Kind of Magic

I have always been a PBS kid. I watched Barney and Zoom. I laughed till I cried watching the crazy chickens on Between the Lions, and the dueling knights in the Gawain’s Word segment. I watched the Elmo’s World portion of Sesame Street until I was in my early teens because I couldn’t resist the adorable sweetness of Elmo, Mr. Noodle and Dorothy the Goldfish. Sesame Street even had me convinced that I wanted to live in a moss-covered cave with the snuffleupagus family. Most importantly, my childhood hero wasn’t a sports star or a comic book superhero, it was Fred Rogers. I was enthralled with the gentleness and kindness of this amazing person on the screen, and as I grew too old to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (and continued to watch anyway) I realized just how special Fred Rogers was. And, I realized that I wanted to be part of the public broadcasting family, and help create the magic that I felt during my childhood for future generations of children.

You can imagine how thrilled I was when in college I had the opportunity to work at WFSU in the Education and Outreach department, and be a connection between PBS and the local community. I have been here for two years now, planning family events and helping with educational programs, and I absolutely love my job. Who wouldn’t enjoy a job where you occasionally get to transform into Daniel Tiger or Clifford?

But, there is a deeper reason why I love public broadcasting and why I am so dedicated to its mission. PBS (and NPR) exist to fill a need in communities across the United States—whether that need is literacy programming, or shows that help children make healthier choices. Time and time again I turn to PBS and NPR for information and entertainment. It makes me happy that there is still something so stellar and beautiful in our society…created through endless collaborations between people, and held to the highest standard of quality. Public broadcasting is everyone’s opportunity to open their eyes to what is going on around them, and to connect to the rest of the world. Public broadcasting is media “for the people, by the people,” and paid for by the people as well.

I see a need for children’s language programming in the United States, and this is why I am leaving WFSU to pursue an MA in Psycholinguistics at the University of York. I will be studying how people learn a second language, in order to create the best possible programs to teach children. There are so many reasons why I think that we need these programs—for one, most American children are behind their peers in other parts of the world, who learn to speak at least two languages. But, I think most importantly, knowing another language makes one more open-minded and more accepting of different cultures. I hope that by teaching our children a second language, we might both guarantee our children’s futures in an increasingly globalized job market, and ensure a more peaceful future for our world.

“The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is.”

- Fred Rogers

I can’t imagine a world without PBS—I can’t imagine my world without PBS. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to my WFSU family—to Tasha, Kim, Natalie, Ashley and Trisha (my amazing coworkers and truly intelligent, strong, creative, kind and wonderful people in every way), and to all the staff at WFSU who I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know. I will miss all of you so much! And, a huge thank you to the teachers, parents, children, and other members of the community I have worked with during my time at WFSU—I so enjoyed watching you experience the magic of PBS!

To quote Barney the Dinosaur….With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you!


The Design Process: From Idea to Solution


What does innovation look like, and how can one generate innovative ideas and strategies – right in the classroom? This collection, produced by NOVA Education, helps educators and learners explore the process by which innovators seek to make the world a better place through the invention of practical solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

The collection, called “The Design Process: From Idea to Solution,” is made up of four videos, each with an accompanying lesson plan. Young learners can watch college students from around the country engage actively with the design thinking process, and then draw inspiration from them. Teachers can use the lesson plans to guide their students through the design process, helping students to develop unique, innovative ideas and strategies of their very own.

Nothing is more gratifying for students than to have an impact on their world and see their ideas in action! EXPLORE THE COLLECTION:

Camping with Hundley

Roasting marshmallows is a camping treat!

Roasting marshmallows is a camping treat!

Curious George is an all-time classic! Watch this “Camping with Hundley” video featuring the beloved, inquisitive monkey with your young learners and help them explore the various tools available to help people complete work. The accompanying lesson plan will ultimately spark your class’ thinking on future careers!

In the video, George needs to use his camping skills after a storm knocks out the electricity that powers the Doorman’s van. He uses a mallet to build a shelter, a lighter to start a fire and sticks to cook hot dogs. After children explore what tools are, who uses them, and how the design of a tool matches its function, they play a game in which they match tools used by different professions. Children then imagine a job they’d like to do someday and a tool they might use.

Perhaps one day, one of your students will grow up to be a writer or illustrator and use the same tools that the creators of Curious George did! LAUNCH THE LESSON PLAN:

You can bring Curious George along with you as well! Visit one of our great libraries and borrow a copy of:georgecover

Reading, relaxing and camping are a fantastic way to start the school year right!

Exploring Cuba’s Thriving Coral Reefs

coral reef

Even though at first appearance corals may look like plants or rocks, they are in fact animals, related to sea anemones and jellyfish. Coral reefs the world over are threatened by pollution, rising ocean temperatures and overfishing. In Cuba, however, reefs are flourishing.

Coral reefs are extremely sensitive to environmental changes and depend on clean, clear saltwater for survival. Pollution and agricultural runoff can have a huge impact on the health of a coral reef. In this sense, Cuba’s Communist government may have inadvertently helped protect the Cuban reefs for many years by preventing the flow of fresh water to the sea, as well as limiting the availability and use of fertilizer and pesticides. However, as Cuba begins to open its doors to the rest of the world, increased commercialism and tourism is once again increasing levels of pollution, sedimentation and development in coastal areas, which creates a negative effect on the corals.

In this video from “Nature” follow along with your class as a marine biologist explores the variety of corals, fish and other wildlife in Cuba’s tropical waters, and consider why Cuba’s reefs are so healthy in comparison to those in the rest of the world. WATCH:

PBS LearningMedia’s Past/Present

Past Present full cast cropped

Now that summer is almost here, it’s time to get gaming! The time: May 1906. The place: The mythical town of Eureka Falls. Reach into a piece of American history with PBS LearningMedia’s Past/Present, an interactive desktop computer game and website designed to impart decision-making and critical thinking skills. Your students will impersonate one of two protagonists: Anna Caruso, a young Italian immigrant worker, or Walter Armbruster, the mill’s young manager. Set against the backdrop of growing labor struggles in an economically harsh climate, Past/Present transports your students to a tense time where labor unrest is on the rise.

As they play, Anna or Walter will make choices that determine their next action. They’ll be asked to accomplish a series of goals and objectives, solve mysteries and collect evidence to answer three big questions that will support pro and con views on key issues that can be discussed in the classroom post-game. At the game’s conclusion, they commit themselves to a position on a volatile topic: for Anna, to strike or not? For Walter, to negotiate or not? Their choices result in an epilogue tailored to their experience. Students will actually look forward to playing this creative game and the accompanying teaching materials will make your life a whole lot easier too! (Grades: 5-10)

Shakespeare Uncovered

Shakespeare David Tennant

William Shakespeare may be the author best known for his use of soliloquy. The literary device, in which characters directly address the audience and share their innermost thoughts, appears in Hamlet, Macbeth, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar and many other Shakespearean plays. Though soliloquies are often considered dense, intimidating, old fashioned and confusing, they still are used as popular dramatic plot devices in books, movies and even television shows.

In this PBS LearningMedia series of videos from PBS’ Shakespeare Uncovered, students explore the use of soliloquy as a device to reveal character and advance plot. They consider how using soliloquy perhaps more truthfully exposes character than other devices like dialogue. In addition, students focus particularly on Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” speech and discuss how and why the topics are best explored through soliloquy. Get inspiration from the accompanying teacher tips to have students identify soliloquy in some of today’s popular television shows such as “Modern Family” and “The Office.” No better way to tie in the new with the old! (Grades: 8-12) Open the resource here:

Anytime, Anywhere Summer Learning

logoIntroductory Remarks for Anytime, Anywhere Summer Learning
by Michael H. Levine, Ph.D.
June 10, 2014

First, what can we do across sectors to recognize a tremendous drain on our children’s capacity to learn? The fact is that for far too many kids, summer time is part of a profoundly disturbing cycle—millions of preschoolers and elementary school children have precious few opportunities to engage in enriching activities that so many of their higher income peers experience as a matter of course. These kids suffer from limited access to academically or socially valuable experiences within communities that are often distressed with high unemployment, shortened hours of public utilities like libraries, and a paucity of safe outdoor activities that nourish children’s minds, bodies, and souls. And many of the academic “summer school” programs that do exist are often focused on remedial work with limited value.

Second, can we mobilize parents—especially those who are deeply connected to their kids, but who have limited resources and education to do more? We need to reach more vulnerable parents to encourage them to offer their kids a daily dose of proven interactions to intentionally build oral language abilities, to connect them to reading and storytelling experiences at home as well as by to take advantage of fun activities in their libraries, museums, schools, and community centers.

Third, can we help break the summer slide with those community programs that are modernizing their approaches—finding cool ways to get kids and families focused on reading. Today you will hear from some great state-based and community efforts that may be ready to scale.

And fourth, how can we harness technology and well-designed educational media more effectively? Given the fact that the average 3rd grader is engaged with some media platform over 7 hours a day during the school year, according to the Kaiser family foundation—and presumably even longer hours during the summer—what will it take to encourage a new media “food” pyramid? Can we find a way to balance the many tech calories that teach children the skills of communicating with friends on Facebook or playing video games throughout the day, with new habits that certainly encourage two of the old R’s—reading and writing with three new essential 21st century skills—creating, communicating and coding? For the entire blog post, please visit:

Just Give It A Try !


The Fred Rogers Company encourages kids to take safe risks in class such as, offering ideas in class discussions, asking questions, trying new things, and tackling problems that seem challenging. The Fred Rogers Company is also responsible for producing, Peg+Cat and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Peg+ Cat is an animated math-based adventure series that target audience is 3-5 year olds. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new animated program for preschoolers ages 2-4 that builds on the pioneering PBS series, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The new series tells engaging stories about the life of a preschooler using musical strategies grounded in Fred Rogers’ landmark social-emotional curriculum.

Benefits of taking risks:
• Fear is inevitable so JUST DO IT!
• We learn from risks.
• Embracing risk taking also helps you overcome a fear of failure.
• Failure makes you FEARLESS!
• Great opportunities often come from risk-taking.
• Taking risks also shows confidence and make you stand out.


Here are some ways to encourage kids to just give it a try:

Offer encouragement:
Encouraging kids to take risks will reduce the anxiety that many feel towards the idea of stepping out of their comfort zone. Just letting them know that you’re proud of them for even trying regardless of the outcome will really make a difference in the future. Research has found that it is more important to praise the effort, and the willingness to learn from mistakes.

Be a role-model:
Children often emulate their parents or anyone that they look up to.

Think about what each child needs:
The kind of encouragement that works for one child won’t work for another. Some children are cautious by nature. Allowing them to watch others for a while before attempting to complete the task will help them feel more confident.

Check out this video of Fred Rogers taking a ‘safe’ risk!

Quench your thirst with PBS KIDS!



Quench your thirst with PBS KIDS! We all know there is 24 hours in one day but sometimes we get so caught up with just living that we forget about the little things like making sure we stay hydrated throughout the day! Since majority of the body is made up of water it is important that we make an effort to consume water daily.

Benefits of drinking water:
1.) Increases energy.
2.) relieves fatigue.
3.) Drinking water daily helps the brain to function better because majority of the brain is made up of water.
4.) Put you in a good mood- when your body is functioning at its best you will feel and be at your best.
5.) Healthy skin- Drinking water daily can give your skin a natural glow.


Recommended daily glasses of water to drink:
5  glasses of water for 5 -8  year olds .
7 glasses of water for 9 – 12 year olds.
8 to 10 glasses of water for 13+ year olds.

If you live in hot climate weather you need to drink more than the recommended amount.

Check out these FETCH games and activities here