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Making a Difference: A Wellspring of Resources

While much, including our educational system, has changed dramatically in recent months, fourth graders at Lexington’s Meadowthorpe Elementary are keeping to their weekly tradition of watching KET’s News Quiz program, which familiarizes them with current events.

Alexandra Farhadian

“Everyone’s pretty stressed adjusting to all the changes,” said Alexandra Farhadian, their teacher. “So News Quiz is one of the things that’s kept our class feeling normal. The students look forward to it every week, and it was the first thing they asked about.” The News Quiz production team recently finished its 35th season with new episodes produced from home.

Across Kentucky, social distancing measures have upended the traditional classroom model of education, compelling teachers and parents to search for new ways to meet their at-home learning needs.

Those searches often enough run through KET.

Over the past few months, KET’s educational resources are being consumed like never before, with usage up more than 400 percent. KET’s Learn at Home toolkit, filled with high-quality educational lessons and activities, helps parents start off on the right foot with their children’s learning at home. KET’s special daytime programming lineup, aligned with PreK through 12th grade-level learning, offers a lifeline for families that might not have internet access. And the thousands of lesson plans, videos and activities found at PBS LearningMedia, all searchable by subject and grade, give teachers and parents a powerful tool for supplementing their at-home instruction.

“KET is the go-to place for educational resources,” says Dee Dee Webb, technology integration specialist with the Grayson County School District, who has been creating resource packs for her teachers and distributing them via Twitter. “They provide so many great digital materials that offer self-paced learning and interactive activities and quizzes.”

KET’s educational materials have prompted a wide range of out-of-the-box activities, from online book readings to virtual scavenger hunts.

“These aren’t the typical school days, so everyone’s looking to make the most of this period by being creative,” says Sam Northern, the library media specialist at Simpson Elementary School in Franklin.

Teachers, too, are using the time to shore up their skills, Northern says. Each Wednesday, he meets online with a handful of elementary school teachers from his districtóthe Science Squad. They go through PBS LearningMedia resources to come up with new science lessons to share with students.

“Reading and math typically take priority in early grades, so we use our sessions to help everyone get more comfortable teaching STEM concepts and finding activities to round out their lesson plans. PBS LearningMedia has been great for this. It’s like a free encyclopedia, except it’s user friendly.”

Sam Northern

Sarah Ladnier of Versailles has been helping her three chil≠dren learn at home, employing the KET program Wild Kratts to lead them on virtual safaris.

“We spend a lot of our days pretending to be the Kratt brothers,” Ladnier said. “My oldest son plans to become a zoologist, so the program has been a call to action for him to learn about these animals and how he can help protect their habitats.”

And when her two-year-old daughter Norah grows impatient from all the animal talk, Ladnier says that’s her cue to segue to her favorite program, Pinkalicious & Peterrific.

“That’s what’s great about KET and PBS,” she adds. “I can always trust that they’ll find something educational that will enrich their lives.”