Spotlight Education

Expand/Collapse Spotlight Education

Spotlight Education is a week of primetime programming airing on local PBS stations from September 12-17. It features eleven films and documentaries, including special episodes of NOVA, FRONTLINE and PBS NEWSHOUR, a new documentary from POV, and the premiere of TED TALKS, “The Education Revolution.” It concludes with the 5th annual AMERICAN GRADUATE DAY, a broadcast about individuals and non-profit organizations dedicated to helping youth stay on track to high school graduation.

This collection features resources about intervention and success strategies, 21st Century learners, and examines how the dedication to teaching all children, especially at-risk students, makes a real difference in communities. New resources will be added to reflect the programming. Spotlight Education celebrates the work of teachers and educators and underscores the importance of convening a dialogue around education.


Looking for even more inspiring ideas in education? Check out the PBS Teacher's Blog!

  • Intervening to Prevent a Dropout

    Research focusing on identifying the risk factors associated with students who drop out of high school is featured in this professional development video excerpt from FRONTLINE: "Middle School Moment." Professor Robert Balfanz’s research has shown that middle school is the key moment when, absent effective intervention, students can fall into the patterns that lead them to drop out during high school. In a middle school in New York, Principal Delores Peterson saw value in this research and put it into practice. The video features the story of student Omarina Cabrera, whose chaotic home life caused her to frequently arrive late at school. This triggered a response by her school’s intervention team, who helped provide the targeted support she needed to stay engaged and become successful at school. This resource is part of FRONTLINE collection.

    Grades: 13+
  • Succeeding in School

    The story of Omarina Cabrera, a young student who was helped by her school’s dropout intervention program, is featured in this video segment adapted from FRONTLINE: "Middle School Moment." When Omarina and her mother got evicted from their home, Omarina felt ashamed and began to frequently arrive late at school, causing her schoolwork to suffer. Luckily, her pattern of tardiness was flagged by her school’s team of counselors and teachers, who collect and review attendance statistics every week. Once the team knew about Omarina’s problems at home, they were able to develop the practical support she needed to complete middle school and prepare for a successful high school experience. This resource is part of the FRONTLINE collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Sharing Our Stories in School | Craft in America

    SHARING OUR STORIES IN SCHOOL explores the work of Therman Statom in the "Teachers" episode of Craft in America. "Teachers" highlights artists' committed to sharing skills and passion for craft with a new generation. Therman Statom​, sculptor, glass artist, and painter is known as a pioneer of the contemporary glass movement. His life­size glass ladders, chairs, tables, constructed box­like paintings, and small scale houses bewitch with vibrant colors and spontaneous line work. National Arts Education Week, as designated by Congress in 2010, is September 11-17, 2016.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century

    Digital Media: New Learners of the 21st Century explores how exceptional instructors are increasingly using digital media and interactive practices to ignite their students’ curiosity and ingenuity, help them become civically engaged, allow them to collaborate with peers worldwide, and empower them to direct their own learning.

    Grades: 13+
  • 21st Century Learners

    In this Classroom Close-up video, the NJ County Teachers of the Year (NJCTY) hold a 21st Century Learners forum at Mainland Regional High School in Linwood. Educators explore how public education can best meet the needs of the modern workforce and discuss technology infusion in the classroom. One of the main purposes of this forum is to provide a platform for NJ teachers to collaborate and share their ideas with each other. NJCTY hopes to empower and engage teachers to make quality, impactful decisions by providing opportunities such as this forum.

    Grades: 13+
  • 21st Century Learning

    Hear about different models of 21st century learning skills from experts in the education field. Chris Rush from New Classrooms, Teresa Napoli from School of One and Rebecca Rufo-Tepper from the Institute of Play discuss the emergence of new approaches to learning, such as personalized and game-based learning. 

    Grades: All
  • 21st Century Schools: Learning in the Digital Age

    More and more educators are tapping into the power of digital media and technology for teaching and learning. The variety of information resources available online is simply staggering. Watch How Google Saved a School from FRONTLINE’s Digital Nation and discuss the hype and the hopes for improving education through technology.

    Explore more about Learning in the Digital Age on FRONTLINE Digital Nation workshop Web site.

    Grades: 9-13+
  • Time for School | Afghanistan: Shugufa

    One of the many causalities of the three decades of conflict in Afghanistan was the Afghani educational system. In rebuilding the system, much effort has been put into overcoming the cultural barriers preventing the education of girls. In this media gallery from the documentary "Time for School", meet Shugufa and follow her over 12 years as she struggles to get an education amidst the turmoil of war-torn Afghanistan. Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Time for School | Benin: Nanavi

    In this media gallery from Time for School, meet Nanavi, a girl who lives in a remote village in Benin, West Africa. Typically, girls her age would be initiated into the traditional voodoo cult and readied for marriage. However, Nanavi has been selected to take a different path in her life. She has been recruited to attend school as part of a nationwide effort to educate the girls of Benin. As a country, Benin has one of the worst literacy rates and biggest educational gender gaps in the world. Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Nanavi, A Girl from Benin, West Africa | Wide Angle: Time for School

    In this lesson plan, students use a chart to track character development and write a statement to express the ways in which a particular young girl from West Africa has changed over a three year time span. Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Time For School | India : Neeraj

    Neeraj, from Rajasthan, India faces many hardships to attend school. During the day she, unlike the boys in her family, is responsible for the household chores. While they play during the day, Neeraj must work. At night she goes to school and often returns so late that everyone has gone to bed. In this media gallery, follow Neeraj over the course of 12 years as she struggles to gain an education. Click here to check out the entire collection of classroom resources from TIME FOR SCHOOL. Check out the program website here.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Recurring Themes - The Lives of Nanavi and Neeraj

    In this ELA lesson plan, students practice identifying themes using questions from varying perspectives (their own, the author’s, and the main character’s). Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 4-7
  • Girls Speak Out | Wide Angle

    This lesson follows girls in India and Benin to evaluate their access to education, a basic human right. Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 5-12
  • Time For School | Brazil: Jefferson

    Many children in Brazil’s favelas (slums) find a safe haven and second home at school. School enrollment is increasing, but the quality of education still remains substandard. In this media gallery, meet Jefferson, a child of the Rochinca favela, who in second grade is one of the few students in his class who can read and write. Follow Jefferson over 12 years as he struggles to overcome poverty and stay in school. Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Compare and Contrast: Education in Japan and Kenya

    Economic factors greatly influence the quality of education. The educational systems of developing countries are often on a substandard level when compared to nations of economically advanced countries. In this video segment from Wide Angle, view and compare the classrooms of students from Kenya and Japan.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Time for School | Kenya: Joab

    In this media gallery meet Joab, a first-grader in a school in Kenya. There are 74 children in his class and only one teacher. Students sit on mats instead of chairs with desks, not only because desks are too expensive but also so that more children can fit into the classroom. Follow Joab over 12 years as he struggles to get an education in the face of abject poverty. Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 3-12
  • Comparing Education Around the World

    In this lesson plan, students learn about Ken and Joab, two boys who are starting first grade. Ken attends school in Japan, while Joab lives in Kenya. Students compare and contrast the circumstances surrounding the two boys’ experiences at school. They create a venn diagram demonstrating what they have learned. Check out the entire collection of resources from the documentary "Time For School" here.

    Grades: 3-5
  • TED Talks Education: "Build Relationships with Your Students."

    “We’re educators. We’re born to make a difference,” says Rita Pierson, who has spent 40 very dedicated years as an educator. The difference she refers to is not only helping students learn, but being a positive force in their lives. In her TED Talk, she calls on teachers to build relationships with their students, no matter how challenging that may be. Pierson shares examples of gestures large and small to bolster students’ self-esteem, down to how she marked a quiz that a student had failed.

    Grades: 13+
  • TED Talks Education: Three Rules to Spark Learning

    It took a life-threatening condition to jolt chemistry teacher Ramsey Musallam out of ten years of “pseudo-teaching” to understand the true role of the educator: to cultivate curiosity. In a fun and personal talk, Musallam gives 3 rules to spark imagination and learning, and get students excited about how the world works. As a high school chemistry teacher, Ramsey Musallam expands curiosity in the classroom through multimedia and new technology.

    Grades: 13+
  • TED Talks Education: Teachers Need Real Feedback

    Until recently, many teachers only had one word of feedback a year: satisfactory. With no feedback and no coaching, it's difficult to improve professionally. Bill Gates suggests that even great teachers can get better with smart feedback, and lays out a program from his foundation to bring timely feedback to every classroom.

    Grades: 13+