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PBS High School

The tables below are quick guides to PBS program websites and interactives. Click on the link in the “Educators” column to access the teaching resources for each program. Some program websites also offer video you can stream into your classroom. If the program website has streaming video available the “Video?” column in the table will say “yes.” PBS Interactives are not television programs, they are high-quality, animated, web-only educational media. A program description and the Educational Philosophy for each resource is listed below.

PBS Programs

Topic Program Grade Video? Website Educators
History, civics, other social studies American Experience 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Visual arts, performing arts, music, literature, film & television American Masters 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Language arts, social studies, visual & performing arts ART:21 6-12 yes GO! GO!
History, geography, language arts, mathematics, science,technology, and the arts
Dead Reckoning Champlain in America
6-10 yes GO! GO!
Math, engineering, science, physics
Design Squad Nation
4-10 yes GO! GO!
Culture, heritage, genetics
Faces of America
2-12 yes GO! GO!
Biography, business/economy, diversity, health//science/technology, foreign affairs/defense, government/public polity, media literacy, religion. Frontline 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Culture, geography, economics, history, politics, cross-curricular, social entrepreneurs Frontline/WORLD 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Cinema, classical music, dance, musical theater, popular music Great Performances 6-12 yes GO! GO!
History History Detectives 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Immigration, civil rights, political cartoons, women’s rights, religion and more Independent Lens 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Literature, drama Masterpiece 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Animal behavior, environment & conservation, humans & nature, living places Nature 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Anthropology, archeology, earth science, engineering, environmental science, forensic science, geography, health science, history, life science, math, paleontology, physical science, science & society,space science and technology. NOVA 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Anthropology, archeology, earth science, engineering, environmental science, forensic science, geography, health science, history, life science, math, paleontology, physical science, science & society, space science and technology. NOVA Science Now 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Science & Engineering NOVA Secret Life of Scientists
6-12 yes GO! GO!
All POV 6-12 yes GO! GO!
Life sciences, physical science, forensics, chemistry. Secrets of the Dead 6-12 yes GO! GO!
History, art & photography, geography, politics & policy The National Parks 7-10 yes GO! GO!
Science & technology Wired Science 6-12 yes GO! GO!

PBS Streaming Video

Topics Program Link
Arts & Literature, Cinema, Culture, Health & Wellness, History, Nature & Environment, News & Public Affairs, Performing Arts, Region, Science, and Technology PBS Video GO!

Program Descriptions

Television’s most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that have shaped America’s past and present.

Search or browse over 1,500 features from more than 110 American Experience web sites — including timelines, primary sources, teacher’s guides, maps, galleries, interactives, video, and more — to find history, civics, and other social studies resources for your classroom.

American Masters is an ongoing series of award-winning specials examining the lives, works, and creative processes of our most outstanding cultural artists. Created for national public television, the series is both a celebration and an exploration of creativity in America. Consisting of more than 250 hours of programming to date, American Masters is a growing film library documenting the role important individuals, groups, and movements have played in the formation of our cultural identity.

Browse the education library by current season, people, topic, or grade level.

Art:21–Art in the Twenty-First Century is the only series on television to focus exclusively on contemporary visual art and artists in the United States, and it uses the medium of television to provide an experience of the visual arts that goes far beyond a gallery visit. Fascinating and intimate footage allows the viewer to observe the artists at work, watch their process as they transform inspiration into art, and hear their thoughts as they grapple with the physical and visual challenges of achieving their artistic visions.

Access the online lesson library that has Art:21 films, web clips, interviews and slideshows available online.

Dead Reckoning Champlain in America is the story of a man who failed to find a northwest passage to China, but instead laid the foundation for a multicultural nation in North America. Throughout Canada Samuel de Champlain is a national hero: the “Father of French America,” the founder of Quebec, a brave explorer, expert cartographer and a visionary who worked tirelessly to create a self-sustaining European settlement in North America.

The combination of an interpretive map, lessons plans and video clips will help encourage students to chart their own course of learning stimulated by viewing the documentary Dead Reckoning ~ Champlain in America. The website contains 12 lesson plans created to assist teachers in using Dead Reckoning ~ Champlain in America in the classroom. The plans were developed for students in grades 6 through 12 and align with national learning standards. At the core of the educational outreach is an interactive map that traces Champlain’s voyages from 1603 to 1616. The interactive map will allow students and teachers to explore these voyages on many levels, including: accessing excerpts from the documentary; lesson plans; Champlain’s journal entries and Amerindian culture.

Design Squad Nation is one of the few places on TV where kids can learn about engineering. From creating a skate park at the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona to designing a cake with movable parts for the cast party of “Young Frankenstein: The Musical,” the goal of Design Squad Nation is to inspire viewers to take on their own hands-on engineering activities. The Design Squad Nation website contains newly upgraded video (all episodes can be viewed online) and has added both an educators’ blog and kids’ blog as well as DIY videos demonstrating possible solutions to hands-on activities.

What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of the new PBS series Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Harvard scholar turns to the latest tools of genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of 12 renowned Americans: professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander, chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, musician Yo-Yo Ma, director Mike Nichols, Her Majesty Queen Noor, television host/heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, actress Meryl Streep, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

Watch this site for the educators section to expand.

a FRONTLINE title screen

Since 1983, FRONTLINE has served as American public television’s flagship public affairs series. Hailed upon its debut on PBS as “the last best hope for broadcast documentaries,” FRONTLINE‘s stature over 28 seasons is reaffirmed each week through incisive documentaries covering the scope and complexity of the human experience. When FRONTLINE was born, however, the prospects for television news documentaries looked grim. Pressure was on network news departments to become profitable, and the spirit of outspoken journalistic inquiry had given way to entertainment values and feature-filled magazine shows. Therefore, it fell to public television to pick up the torch of public affairs and carry on this well-established broadcast news tradition.

FRONTLINE/World is a national public TV series that turns its lens on the global community, covering countries and cultures rarely seen on American television.

The educational goals for the shows are to: 1) illustrate parallels between current and historical events; 2) introduce your class to the sights, sounds and pulse of foreign countries; 3) engage your students as global citizens in an interdependent world; 4) Build knowledge, critical thinking and group skills; and 5) provide context for important issues facing the world.

The only continuing primetime performance showcase on American television, GREAT PERFORMANCES presents a diverse programming portfolio of classical music, opera, popular song, musical theater, dance, drama, and performance documentaries.

History Detectives is devoted to exploring the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects.

Lessons and resources for historical research will help you engage your middle and high school students in rich history investigations and will allow you to support your curriculum and the national history standards in unique ways.

INDEPENDENT LENS is like an independent film festival in your classroom. Each episode introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent thinkers: filmmakers who are taking creative risks, calling their own shots and finding untold stories in unexpected places.

The classroom section contains curricula paired with specially edited video modules taken from the best of Independent Lens films, Web original projects and online activities. All lesson plans incorporate national standards, teaching strategies, worksheets and extension ideas. These free resources are a powerful tool for teaching and learning around issues crucial to education today.

During its storied history — the longest-running prime time drama in American television — Masterpiece has remained steadfast in our commitment to bring the best in literature-based drama, mysteries filled with eclectic characters, and groundbreaking contemporary works.

For more than thirty years, Masterpiece has been known for its high-quality adaptations of classic works by authors such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Eliot, and James, as well as more contemporary literature. Browse the selection of online teacher’s guides to help you use these films in the classroom.

Over more than a quarter-century, NATURE has brought the beauty and wonder of the natural world into American homes, becoming in the process the benchmark of natural history programs on American television.

Browse online resources by animal, topic and grade level. Also available on line are: animal guides, interactives & games, interviews, maps and a photo gallery. Materials also become available to support the current season.

NOVA, believes that science is neither sacred lore nor secret ritual, but rather curious people exploring interesting questions. NOVA‘s approach, developed over more than a quarter century, is to select a topic of great interest to viewers and then produce a film that is as entertaining as it is informative, using the tools of good pacing, clear writing, and crisp editing. Equally important, NOVA shows the human story behind the science story. Whether exploring a galaxy or an atom, the series delves into the personalities responsible for the discoveries, and the social consequences of events in the lab.

The NOVA teachers site offers a digital library tied to standards that includes downloadable video and audio segments, Flash interactives and more.

NOVA: Secret Life of Scientists & Engineers. Wish more of your students saw science and engineering as career possibilities? Every two weeks you’ll get to meet a new scientist or engineer with a surprising secret. Watch their videos. Ask them questions. Find out how their outside passions fuel their work, and vice versa.

POV (a cinema term for “point of view”) is a showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.

The educators section features video clips and companion lesson plans.

Part detective story, part true-life drama, SECRETS OF THE DEAD explores some of the most iconic moments in history to debunk myths and shed new light on past events. Using the latest investigative techniques, forensic science and historical examination to unearth new evidence, the series shatters accepted wisdom, challenges prevailing ideas, overturns existing hypotheses, spotlights forgotten mysteries, and ultimately rewrites history.

The educators section features lesson plans with embedded video clips and an interactive activity. Supporting documents are also included.

The narrative traces the birth of the national park idea in the mid-1800s and follows its evolution for nearly 150 years. Using archival photographs, first-person accounts of historical characters, personal memories and analysis from more than 40 interviews, and what Burns believes is the most stunning cinematography in Florentine Films’ history, the series chronicles the steady addition of new parks through the stories of the people who helped create them and save them from destruction. It is simultaneously a biography of compelling characters and a biography of the American landscape.

The lessons and activities developed around the film look at the rich history of the national parks, the art and photography of the breath-taking geography that inspired so many people and the human story of politics and policy that shaped and continue to shape the parks today. The “for educators” section includes: lesson plans with video clips, “Day Trip” activities, Untold Stories discussion guide, place-based digital storytelling module.

Take the DNA of Wired magazine, the first word on how science and technology are changing the world. Add the giant-robot might of PBS. Result: WIRED Science, a science series that brings the magazine’s award-winning journalism, groundbreaking design and irreverent attitude to public television.

The “Education” section has the following departments: 1) Careers in Science, 2) Featured Student, 3) Featured Teacher, 4) In Your Classroom, 5) Wired Science Education, 6) Student Video Contest, and 7) Resources. In Your Classroom is a collection of lesson plans and video.
action, each episode delivers positive messages about math by teaching concepts in a fun way that kids can understand.

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