PBS and Apple TV

Recently, when I saw a PBS badge appear on my Apple TV screen, I was very excited.

For over a year, I have been using Apple TV in my classroom to untether my devices from a podium and VGA cable, thus allowing me to circulate around the class rather than stay at the front of the room. The device has been indispensable as I have shifted from lead teacher to facilitator and, now, from general digital instruction to fully blended learning in my classes. I use more than just the convenient AirPlay feature; I also utilize the ever-growing collection of apps on my Apple TV.

The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) is a non-profit, public American television network that features a plethora of amazing content for all ages. With a central mission to “create content that educates, informs and inspires,” member stations spread across the United States schedule various shows without commercial breaks that are incredibly informative. I have been a fan of PBS for many years as a graduate student, an interested adult, as a parent, and especially as an educator.

So, having easy access to PBS in your classroom (without the need for a television) is an ideal situation for any teacher.

Once you link your local PBS station to the app on the Apple TV, you have access to a rotating schedule of various videos, many of which are superb for classroom application. Teachers can select full-length episodes from current programs as well as from the PBS archives, including local content, for FREE. To access locally-produced shows, you will be asked to create a profile (which you can easily do at video.pbs.org) and selecting your local PBS station of choice. The only issue with this approach is that some major metropolitan areas have two sources for PBS — Atlanta, for example, has GPB (Georgia Public Broadcasting) and PBA (Public Broadcasting Atlanta) — and picking your preference may be challenging.

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Literature classes can watch Masterpiece, Science can view scenes from Nature, History can peruse Frontline and so forth. Just remember to follow some of the best practices that apply to video usage in the classroom:

  • Aim to view video in snippets either stopping every 10 to 20 minutes to summarize or complete a guided reflection activity or simply show video in parts over the course of several days.
  • Provide students with a guided note-taking activity or a goal to achieve during the video to maintain active listening.
  • Always align any video to lesson goals as well as curriculum and school. state and/or national standards.
  • With videos, make certain you watch ahead of time to ascertain the appropriateness of the content and assess whether the video is acceptable for your school (you may need to apply for permission, depending on your school policies).

For more information, you can visit pbs.org/appletv. You can purchase an Apple TV for a low one-time cost via the Apple Store or Amazon!

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