Shifting gears is never easy. But California’s adoption of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) actually grants educators a good deal of flexibility and creative license in teaching students critical skills for the 21st Century. The introduction to the CCSS states:

“Just as media and technology are integrated in school and life in the twenty-first century, skills related to media (both critical analysis and production of media) are integrated throughout the standards.”

Because the integration of media throughout almost all curricular areas is so strongly emphasized, KQED and PBS LearningMedia’s vast selection of rich digital media resources provides a great opportunity for blended learning that can both engage students with compelling content, and directly align curriculum to the new standards.

Here are four central components of the CCSS for English-Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects, and examples of how KQED media can be used to to address them.

1. Emphasis on informational text 

The CCSS places a heavy emphasis on reading nonfiction and informational text. Students are required to “integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually.” From regularly updated radio and TV-based news coverage and analysis to in-depth scientific, artistic, and historical explorations, KQED and PBS LearningMedia’s multi-platform digital library provides an abundant supply of compelling multimedia and writing examples that directly align to these standards. Let’s say, for instance, you’re teaching Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Why not use a video clip and article from PBS LearningMedia about a school where actors go to brush up on their contemporary interpretations of Shakespeare’s works?

2. The focus on argument

The CCSS requires that students read to “delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text” as well as to write their own arguments to “support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or text.” KQED News is chock full of provocative issues likely to inspire student reactions and perspectives. For instance, you could use video clips, audio, and transcripts from Prison Break – a recently aired KQED-produced radio and TV series about California’s troubled prison system. Students can then examine different viewpoints presented by key figures in the stories, and form their own arguments and opinions about how best to reform California’s criminal justice system. Background explanatory material, additional multimedia exploratory resources, and an educator guide are also available on the topic as part of our news education project.

3. The push for media literacy

The CCSS stresses digital fluency and media savvy. The diverse viewpoints and voices represented in KQED’s programming provide ample opportunity for students to analyze the impact of various media formats and presentations. PBS’s comprehensive coverage of the 2012 Election, for instance, is an excellent way to examine various media techniques and the huge influence they have in shaping public opinion. One approach is to compare political ads and have students analyze the candidates’ contrasting media strategies in conveying messages to the public. Visit our teaching media literacy section for more ideas.

4. Encouraging online collaboration and exchange of ideas

This is key to the CCSS. Inherent in its set of highlighted 21st Century skills is the ability for students to use and become part of diverse online communities to digitally interact and engage, and to share and express ideas and knowledge without geographical restrictions. KQED Education recently launched it’s Do Now project, which encourages just that: getting students to express and share their ideas – via social media –  on a range of academically and socially relevant themes. Each week we ask a new question, accompanied by a brief description of the topic and a piece of embedded media. Students can respond via Twitter and other social media platforms. Their replies appear instantly on our site and are visible to other students in other schools, who can submit their own ideas to the discussion. It results in an ongoing, inclusive conversation among students who might never have had the opportunity to converse in person. The process is an impetus for students to explore topics in greater depth, understand diverse perspectives, and research relevant issues in real time.

Four Creative Ways to Teach the Common Core with Public Media 31 August,2012Matthew Green



Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @KQEDlowdown

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