Local educators assist PBS KIDS with new early learning programming

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Zoom screengrab. Top left Heather Patrick, top right Jackie Stapleton, middle left Brielle Hoyt, middle right Nick Schuldt, bottom Austin Pizzella.

Building on its deep commitment to education and, in response to feedback from teachers across the country, PBS KIDS has developed a new digital space specifically designed for early childhood educators and their professional learning needs. WSKG’s Education Director, Jackie Stapleton, was invited to serve on the advisory committee for this national project. Throughout 2020, Stapleton met monthly with PBS Education staff to think through digital engagement strategies that would be most beneficial to the early childhood community. 

Fast forward to fall 2021 when PBS invited WSKG to continue participating in the next phase of this project: beta-testing the newly designed ‘PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning’ platform. WSKG was one of three stations selected for this work which ran from October through December. Ms. Stapleton assembled a small group of local classroom educators who work with PreKindergarten through Grade 2 students. Group members worked individually to take three of the new PBS KIDS Self Paced Learning courses completing pre- and post-surveys along the way. The group came together to share findings and overall feedback which WSKG compiled into a report for PBS Education. 

“Being self-paced, I was able to work on the PBS KIDS Self Paced Learning courses in segments and at my own time, which made it nice so that I could take in and process each learning area/concept one at a time. The experience was engaging and fun! There were interactive games that you were prompted to do to apply your learning as well as videos that highlighted the learning concepts of each segment. 

I would recommend this professional development and style to any educator, and this learning experience highlighted what great and plethora of resources and opportunities PBS has to offer to those who work with and teach children.”

-Nicholas Schuldt, educator participant


“PBS not only introduced me to a ton of cool media, but showed me how to use it. The experience has taught me how to use media effectively in the classroom and has opened up so many ways to teach science. Science is such a tricky thing to teach, but PBS has found a way to both effectively deliver content AND spark inquiry in children. I look forward to using their stuff in the future.” 

-Austin Pizzella, educator participant 

The four local educators who participated in this beta-testing were Brielle Hoyt (Pre-Service Teacher & Student, Department of Teaching and Learning at Binghamton University), Heather Patrick (JCC Binghamton’s Early Childhood Center), Austin Pizzella (Pre-Service Teacher & Student, Department of Teaching and Learning at Binghamton University), and Nicholas Schuldt (Union-Endicott School District). The educators each will be compensated directly by PBS and may be tapped for additional opportunities such as authoring a PBS Teacher Feature or a PBS Teacher’s Lounge Blog post.

WSKG was also provided an honorarium from PBS for its work on this initiative. In reflection, Stapleton said: 

“Being part of this design work with PBS KIDS was invigorating – it’s incredible how responsive public media is to community needs – especially those of teachers. It was wonderful to have local voices provide insight on this work and to better connect with this new generation of educators.” 

The PBS KIDS Self-Paced Learning courses have started to publish and are also embedded within the PBS LearningMedia platform. Interested? You can find this new content here with more courses being added regularly throughout the upcoming year.