WITF announced today free instructional resources that are available this school year as part of their Learning at Home initiative. WITF, the PBS and NPR member station for Central Pennsylvania, has partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and Pennsylvania Association of Intermediate Units (PAIU) to provide programming and activities that are aligned to state educational standards.

Teachers and students can look forward to:

  • Weekday broadcast television programming for pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade students
  • Weekly coordinated extension activities and lesson plans
  • Professional development webinars for teachers
  • A new pilot program called datacasting

“Teachers and families are wrestling with uncertain schedules, remote learning and potential school building closures this year,” said Debbie Riek, WITF director of education. “WITF television was founded by educators to bring instructional programming into homes and classrooms; we are proud to continue their legacy by connecting students to new opportunities for lifelong learning.”

This past spring, WITF partnered with seven local school districts to create curriculum connection schedules that align to state standards. They have expanded their broadcast television programming every weekday to include more opportunities for students in all grade levels. WITF TV will broadcast educational programming for pre-K through elementary school students from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00pm, for middle school students from 12:00pm to 1:00pm and for high school students from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Programming will range from the new PBS KIDS program “Elinor Wonders Why” for young science enthusiasts to “The Story of China” for high school social studies learners.

WITF encourages caregivers to “co-view” with young learners; meaning they watch the same program and talk about it to help their child understand the educational concepts. Weekly extension activities are available on their website in English and Spanish. After a child and caregiver watch a selected episode, the guide offers caregivers a conversation or project to try with their child.

But resources are not just for caregivers at home, but for educators to incorporate as well.

“As teachers seek more engaging online materials to connect with their curriculum, WITF is here with thousands of videos and activities ready for their lesson plans,” continued Riek. “With PAIU, we’ve created a series of recorded webinars to share best practices on how to integrate PBS resources into the classroom and remote learning experience.”

Elinor Wonders Why on PBS Kids

In partnership with its fellow Pennsylvania PBS stations, WITF’s newest and largest project to reach students without access to the internet is the partnership with PDE to establish a statewide datacasting initiative.

What exactly is datacasting? While broadcasting refers to sending programming “over-the-air” across a geographic region that can be picked up by an antenna and played on a television, datacasting refers to using those same signals to transmit data to be used on a computer.

WITF will coordinate with educators to create data “instructional units” that are transmitted over television air waves and received by a student’s home computer, without the need to connect to the internet. By supplying an inexpensive receiver, families will be able to download lesson plans, videos, slideshows, worksheets, webpages and more. These instructional materials would then be available on-demand for the student, on the learning schedule that is right for them.

“We are all in this together. WITF is committed to helping create equitable learning environments for those students who cannot go to a school building. WITF is thrilled to partner with our fellow Pennsylvania PBS stations, Governor Tom Wolf and PDE to bridge the digital divide for students learning at home,” said Ron Hetrick, WITF president and CEO. “We look forward to becoming an integral part of anywhere, anytime learning for more students learning remotely this year.”

To find more information about WITF’s Learning at Home project, visit witf.org/learningathome.

About WITF

WITF is a trusted provider of public media news and programming for approximately 2.3 million people in 19 counties of central Pennsylvania, encouraging children and adults to Live Inspired®. A member station of PBS and NPR, WITF children’s programming includes public television on WITF TV, WITFK PBS KIDS 24/7 channel and the PBS KIDS app. Other services include an English and Spanish website for caregivers of early learners at ready.witf.org, an EITC program Explore in the Classroom, WITF Kids Club and a variety of free family events that bring PBS KIDS Characters, STEAM activities and families together. WITF’s mission is to strengthen our communities by connecting us to each other and to opportunities for lifelong learning. For more information, visit witf.org.