Common Sense Review
Updated May 2013

PBS LearningMedia

Impressive collection of classroom-ready, free digital resources
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Embedded videos featuring master educators are well done and concise.
  • Featured story on food science presents a video of a food scientist.
  • Teacher’s Guide: Character Change: The Diary of Anne Frank.
  • Assessing Phonological and Phonemic Awareness.
  • Standards search yields aligned lessons.
Vast library of rich digital resources are appropriate for a wide age and subject range.
Not all pieces come with lesson plans.
Bottom Line
Excellent free site has thousands of valuable, high-quality digital resources for students and teachers.
Michelle Warrence-Schreiber
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Age-appropriate resources are stimulating and inviting.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Learning is integral to the experience with in-depth lessons that promote critical thinking skills. 

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Multidimensional resources offer demos, extensions, and access to student tracking information.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

PBS LearningMedia provides Common Core and state standards alignment, student access, class accounts, a robust user management system, comprehensive analytics, and a content management system. There's so much content on the site that accessing all materials for a certain topic may seem a bit cumbersome, but it's well worth the navigation.

The professional development component is of particular note. A new Middle School Literacy piece is an excellent resource for all teachers of tweens. Other PD materials are available in a variety of areas, including how to support English-language learners, implementing literature circles, contemporary issues in the classroom, and phonemic assessment. Educators can access strategies, tools, and learning resources.

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What's It Like?

PBS LearningMedia contains tens of thousands of digital resources aligned to Common Core standards and ready for classroom use. Topics cover English language arts, math, professional development, science and health, and social studies with resources for grades Pre-K through college. The self-paced lessons are interactive, engage students, and include a variety of digital media. In most cases, students learn content by reading and writing. Resources range from short video and audio clips to interactives, lesson plans, and much more.

Teachers can search by grade level, subject, and standard. You can also browse more than 100 resource collections such as Middle School Literacy Initiative, High School Math, Cyberlearning on STEM, Art and Science of Growing Food, and Culture and Identity. In addition to more than 80 PBS member stations, content contributors include the National Archives, the Jim Henson Company, Annenberg Media, and the Library of Congress.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Generally, the videos embedded throughout the site are well-done and concise, and feature master educators. Videos showcasing teacher-modeled best practices are truly excellent. Navigation is easy after an initial self- orientation, yet it still requires you to go through several steps before you can access content.

Units range from slavery to adaptation to financial fitness and include objectives, lessons, related materials, and alignment to standards. The self-paced computer resources are cool and relevant and can really hook kids. Students can work independently on a computer (or collaboratively with a peer) at a self-directed pace, allowing the teacher to visit students individually and provide timely feedback.

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Lesson Plans