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  • Portraits for the Homefront: The Story of Elizabeth Black
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WQED CELEBRATES FIRST YEAR OF SUPER TEACHERS DIGITAL LEARNING GROUP AND LOOKS FORWARD TO YEAR TWO

WQED CELEBRATES FIRST YEAR OF SUPER TEACHERS DIGITAL LEARNING GROUP AND LOOKS FORWARD TO YEAR TWO

Event Welcomes Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning

PITTSBURGH – WQED hosts a celebration of the accomplishments of the first year of iQ: smartmedia Super Teachers on Friday, August 10 at the Foster Early Childhood Center in McKees Rocks. Special guest speaker for the recognition event will be Dr. Barbara Minzenberg, Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning.

WQED Super Teachers are 12 educators who advise WQED in the best ways for incorporating PBS digital media in early childhood classrooms and homes (pre-K through K) throughout Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 (AIU 3) representing 42 school districts in Allegheny County.

“The innovations we’ve seen in year one are phenomenal – teachers using the TV show SuperWhy to help children with speech delays, comprehensive training for Head Start across our entire region, and equipping parents with the ability to track their child’s literacy through a free gaming tool called PBS Kids Island,” says Jennifer Stancil, Executive Director of Educational Partnerships at WQED. “There is much more on the horizon…we are gearing up for the new school year with our new math curriculum, among other innovative projects.”

WQED’s iQ: smartmedia initiative, encompassing all of its educational projects, is at national forefront of helping teachers use PBS children’s programs and digital media to incorporate games, coaching, sharing via video, and applying those digital assets to science, numeracy, literacy, and social and emotional awareness. “We are even helping teachers understand the use of social networks, like My Street (from Sesame Workshop), for peer-to-peer sharing of best practices, says Stancil.”

In just the first year, the contributions of WQED’s SuperTeachers total $97,000 in value through curriculum development, training and implementation of digital assets for the early childhood classroom. In year two, the Super Teachers will incorporate new PBS children’s shows, training, and construct a new Head Start curriculum on math with PBS collaboratively.

PBS programming and digital assets are particularly important to kids who are at-risk: those with learning ability challenges, autism, and those in underserved communities in Allegheny County. WQED hopes to expand the program to other counties in western Pennsylvania with additional funding for the program.

Unfortunately, a child raised in poverty will hear far fewer words or affirmative statements from his or her parents than a child living in a higher-income family. One study estimated that the average child in a professional family heard 215,000 words weekly, compared to 125,000 in a working-class family and just 62,000 in a family on welfare. Over the course of four years (before a child enters school), that “word gap” grows to a 30-million-word gulf between children in low- and high-income homes. By the time a child from a low-income family enters kindergarten, he or she may be 12-14 months below national norms in language and pre-reading skills; these disparities continue as the child ages and are linked to “challenges later in life, including dropping out of school, teen pregnancy, and unemployment” (CCSSO, 2009). Around the nation and here in Pennsylvania, school systems fall short in meeting the needs of children: Pennsylvania ranks 24th in the country in terms of access to state Pre-K and Head Start for four-year-olds, and there are wide racial and income-based achievement gaps at all grade levels.

WQED’s investment in Super Teachers stems from research received from early childhood educators through preliminary research conducted in late 2010. WQED surveyed early childhood educators on their use of and familiarity with media and technology in the classroom. Most teachers surveyed do not use any kind of technology or media to assess student learning (60%).

A sample of the curriculum is available at www.wqed.org/education in the Teachers section.

WQED Multimedia (www.wqed.org) has a proud history of honors, including 128 National and Mid-Atlantic Emmy® Awards, an Academy Award, and many, many others, including two Emmy® Awards for Station Excellence. WQED was founded in 1954 as the nation’s first community-supported broadcaster. The people of WQED create, produce and distribute quality programs, products and services to engage, inform, educate and entertain the public within their community and around the world. WQED Pittsburgh is one of the first broadcasters in the country to be fully high-definition (HD) in its studio and field production capabilities. It is the parent company of WQED-TV (PBS); WQED: The Neighborhood Channel; WQED: The Create Channel; WQED Showcase; Classical WQED-FM 89.3/Pittsburgh; the Pittsburgh Concert Channel on HD radio and online; Classical WQEJ-FM 89.7/Johnstown; local and national television and radio productions; WQED Interactive and The WQED Education Department.

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