KLRU’s Work Impacted by New Every Student Succeeds Act

Today President Obama signed into law the Every Student Succeeds Act, the first major national education overhaul since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. KLRU’s Educational Services work is impacted in two specific ways by the passage of this law.

First, the ESSA Act includes funding for Ready to Learn, the PBS Kids endeavor which leads to the production of high-quality educational shows, apps, online games, and additional resources, and which includes funds for KLRU and 10 other stations nationwide to pilot implementation and distribution of these assets.

Second, one of the new features of the ESSA is that high schools must use graduation rates as one of several measures of progress. KLRU is a participant in the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate initiative, and as such, we have been working over the last two years to assemble a body of knowledge and resources about how to enable more students to stay in school and graduate, especially in those schools and among demographic groups with chronically high dropout rates.

In fact, tonight at 5:30 pm, KLRU is taping a student town hall, in which we have gathered well over 100 middle and high school youth for a televised forum on their perspectives on key issues – what challenges do they face on the road toward high school graduation, what resources have they found meaningful, and where do we adults continue to miss opportunities to support them in their journeys? You can RSVP for this event here. Plan to watch Stop The Drop: Engaging Students In Their Futures on December 17 at 9pm.

Stop the Drop

www.klru.org/americangraduate

KLRU shares Play to Learn™ program at White House conference

On Tuesday, August 18, 2015, KLRU took part in a White House convening around the ConnectHome initiative, the plan to provide low-cost/free high-speed connectivity in over 275,000 low-income residences across the US and on tribal lands. Austin has been selected as the mentor city for the project due to collaborations including the City of AustinHACAGoogleAustin FreeNetUnited Way for Greater Austin, and KLRU, among others.

KLRU’s role in the panel was to share our work on Play to Learn™, the United Way-led initiative that brings parents and youth ages 2-4 together for a variety of fun learning activities, including the use of digital tablets. Throughout the 10-week program, the families take home books and learning materials and upon successful completion of the program, they take home a digital tablet loaded with educational apps for the whole family. We utilize PBS resources to illuminate at-home learning experiences, including video from PBS Kids, apps like PBS Parents Play and Learn and Daniel Tiger’s Day and Night, and KLRU’s own Smart Screen Time®/La Pantalla Inteligente messaging. Play to Learn™ is a powerful example of the kinds of programs that can occur once a low-income community gets reliable and affordable access to the Internet.

Austin Pathways, Housing Authority of the City of Austin, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, Austin Free-Net, Everyone On, and Google Fiber at the National #ConnectHome Summit in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy Austin Pathways

Austin Pathways, Housing Authority of the City of Austin, KLRU-TV, Austin PBS, Austin Free-Net, Everyone On, and Google Fiber at the National #ConnectHome Summit in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy Austin Pathways

KLRU’s vice president of education, Ben Kramer (pictured on the far left above), represented Play to Learn™ at the conference. Below is a Q&A with Ben describing the Play to Learn™ program, what its effects have been, where he sees it headed in the future and what his role was at the ConnectHome conference.

Q: How did Play to Learn™ start?

A: Play to Learn™ was developed about five years ago. The United Way had done some research to try to determine where the greatest pockets of need were in the Austin area in terms of school readiness. Not surprisingly, they’re all in low-income zones, but they could go even deeper to say there are specific hot spots where 75 percent of the kids are entering Kindergarten not deemed “ready.” And “ready” doesn’t just mean academic skills, “ready” means the ability to follow group instructions, the ability to play nicely with others, the ability to hold attention to get through a developmentally appropriate activity as well as fine motor and gross motor skills, some awareness of letters, a concept of print, things like that.

In addition to funding quality childcare programs, what can we do? In these pockets, large numbers of families did not have their kids in sanctioned early childhood programs. They had their kids at home with them, or they had them in what we call informal family, friends and neighbors networks of childcare. Well, what do we do about that? And that’s how Play to Learn™ kind of got its start.

For years, there have been programs or workshops offered to families about how to foster learning activities at home, but number one, even when these are free, you tend to see an attendance drop. For example, we were trying to run six workshop sections, but we’d see attendance fall off a cliff after about three or four sessions. The other piece is that we were just then seeing the explosive growth of tablets in the early childhood arena. Given that the seed funding from this entire investigation and project had come from Samsung, United Way went to Samsung and said, “You know, we think we want to try to incorporate tablets.” And that’s where we came in. PBS Kids had shifted its strategies to focus more on the online and tablet-based world for early childhood games and video. So we joined them in the design of the Play to Learn™ curriculum, and in its general approach and outreach.

Q: How does Play to Learn™ work?

A: The program is 10 weeks long. The first and last sessions are tablet-oriented, where you commit to attend at least eight of 10 sessions in order to get the tablet, you’re committing to allow us to film and gather and use data. In the end, we sign over the tablets to the families. All the rest of the stuff in the middle is this pretty standard workshop model, where there are a variety of activities that are all designed to replicate what’s going to be their pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten experience but maybe more developmentally appropriate, and that are designed to get the kids and their parents interacting in the moment. That includes story reading, play with blocks, water colors, markers, puzzle pieces, toy cars — all the kind of stuff that you would see in an early childhood center, but the big difference is we’re asking the parent to let the child take the lead on those activities and for them to follow along and also for them to infuse a whole lot of dialogue, so it’s not just playing silently.

Also included are uses of media. We show clips from our own shows and from educational videos directed at childcare folks. We use the tablets every time, there’s at least one app that the families are asked to explore together that are related to the themes of that session.

Every week, the family goes home with a take-home bag which includes some of the manipulatives, the toys they’ve been giving to play with at home, and at least one book. And then at the very end of the session, they take home the tablet.

Q: How did your work on Play to Learn™ lead to speaking on a panel at the White House?

A: In the summer, we had just signed a contract with the United Way, based upon a grant they had received from the City of Austin, to provide Play to Learn™ in Housing Authority sites around the city, serving approximately 40 families at four different sites around the city. The first round of Play to Learn™ took place at Meadowbrook Housing, which recently opened, and the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, Joaquin Castro, was there in November for the grand opening of this new educational facility on the grounds. This summer, there was a HUD conference in Austin, and they went up to see the different programs in Austin, it wasn’t just Play To Learn. Austin FreeNet and Austin Boys And Girls Club both have programs there. Simultaneously, President Obama this summer went out to a housing development on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma to promote the ConnectHome initiative, which is their goal, before they leave office, to have all public housing in the United States hard-wired for high speed internet. This ConnectHome conference was what we were invited to in Washington.

The idea was that largely because of Google Fiber and Austin’s general pace of tech development and tech infrastructure, the work being done at that Meadowbrook site is in many ways a template for what the Obama Administration and others would like to see happening in these other sites and housing developments as they come online in the upcoming year.

We were asked to be on a panel to help answer the question, “You’re wired, now what? What can you do with that that you couldn’t do before?” In a way, it was interesting because the tenor of the conversation was about the work with the hard-wiring. Our work with the tablets doesn’t need a hard-wire connection, you just need a strong WiFi signal. So one of the follow-ups I had was to connect back to the conference leads to say, “That’s a very short time to get 275,000 hard-wired. Let me offer this as an alternative, if you can get a strong WiFi signal in your housing communities and you can go to tablet-based technologies, you’re able to tap into resources a heck of a lot quicker.”

Q: What have we learned from Play to Learn™?

A: Research was done on the first 200 families we served, and we saw some really positive outcomes. Attendance was through the roof, and at one level, we credit the tablet. But at the other level, that longer time period allowed us to build community, and a sense of collaboration and trust and the fact that these sessions are meant to be fun. They’re very lively, a lot of laughter, a lot of goofiness. When we follow kids, that’s what’s going to result. Some of the other research results were parents indicating positive trends in some of these very same school readiness qualities that we’re after. One surprising research result was an actual decline in parents’ depressive symptoms, and we contribute that to two things: that sense of community and the notion that they’ve heard this idea that you have to go into American schools ready, and this helps to shed a light on what that readiness really means. It doesn’t mean that your child entering pre-Kindergarten knows how to write their name. It means that your child can follow directions and sit still and cooperate and collaborate with others and be curious and explore. So, for all those reasons, we’re really proud of the work that we’ve done.

Q: What’s next?

A: Since that original study of 200, we’re now up to about 500 families served in the Austin area, and we’ve just signed contracts to serve approximately 100 families per year for the next five years. In addition, we’ve brought along some other partners who are implementing either the Play To Learn model as it was designed or they’re modifying it and folding it into their own curricula. The other thing we’re hoping to do is to explore making social media more interactive for the parents in the program.

KLRU announces local 2015 PBS Kids Writers Contest Winners

writers contest 2015

Today, KLRU announced the local winners of the 2015 PBS KIDS Writers Contest. The first place winners in grades K-3 will advance to the national level of the contest. Over 190 creative entries were received from local children and 13 winners were chosen for first place, second place, and third place recognitions:

1ST PLACE WINNERS:

2ND PLACE WINNERS:

3RD PLACE WINNERS:

“At KLRU we were truly inspired by the enthusiasm and talent that this year’s contest entries demonstrated,” said Ben Kramer, Director of KLRU’s Educational Services Department. “Each year KLRU is a proud participant in PBS KIDS’ annual Writers Contest as it advances KLRU’s commitment to helping grow children’s literacy skills while encouraging expression and imagination. KLRU celebrates the talented children of our community and we wish the winners advancing to the national contest the best of luck.”

You can read all stories submitted in the KLRU area

The annual PBS KIDS Writers Contest is a national initiative designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. The contest encourages children in grades K-3 to celebrate creativity by submitting their own original stories and illustrations.

KLRU’s first place winners will advance to the national contest and a panel of some of America’s foremost children’s authors, illustrators and media creators will serve as honorary judges and rank the top 12 finalists. National winners will be announced this summer and the winning stories will be featured on pbskids.org/writerscontest.

The national winners will receive prize packages including a library of ARTHUR® books by best-selling children’s author, Marc Brown, courtesy of national prizing sponsor, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and a personal technology device courtesy of PBS. The PBS KIDS Writers Contest is produced by PBS and based on the Reading Rainbow® Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, a concept developed by WNED-TV, Buffalo.

To learn more about the contest, visit pbskids.org/writerscontest.

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with KLRU Kids

Screen shot 2015-02-06 at 10.54.21 AM

KLRU Kids presents several Valentine’s Day specials starting Feb. 9th!

Curious George Happy Valentine’s Day, George!
Monday, February 9th at 8 am
Tuesday, February 10th at 8:30 am and 2:30 pm
Wednesday, February 11th at 8 am
Thursday, February 12th at 8:30 am and 2:30 pm
Friday, February 13th at 8 am
George wants to make his friends the best Valentine’s Day card ever, but even with four paws, it takes a long time to create homemade cards for everyone. With a little help from sponge shapes, red paint, and a waffle iron, George creates the first ever monkey Valentine’s Printing Press!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood It’s Love Day! / Daniel’s Love Day Surprise
Monday, February 9th at 9 am
Tuesday, February 10th at 9:30 am
Wednesday, February 11th at 9 am
Thursday, February 12th at 9:30 am
Friday, February 13th at 9 am
Thursday, March 12th at 9:30 am
It’s Love Day! – Ugga Mugga! It’s Love Day in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Daniel and all of his friends come up with their own special ways to show their love and care for one another. The kids dance, sing, and tell jokes to say “I love you.” Daniel’s Love Day Surprise – It’s Love Day and Grandpere is coming to visit! How can Daniel find a way to show how much he loves Grandpere? With a treasure hunt, that’s how! Daniel hides little hearts all over the house for Grandpere to find… that is, unless little Margaret finds them first! Strategy: Find your own way to say “I love you.”

WordGirl Cherish Is the Word
Wednesday, February 11th at 6:30 
It’s Valentines Day! All of the kids at school are making special valentines to share with their special friends. But when Victoria Best runs off with all of the cards, will she ruin Valentine’s Day for everyone? It’s up to WordGirl to swoop in and save the day.

Clifford the Big Red Dog Big Hearted T-Bone & Cleo’s Valentine Surprise
Sunday, February 15th at 8 am
Clifford’s Big Idea: Be Responsible T-Bone generously offers to watch Cleo’s niece KiKi so Cleo can get some rest. But his honorable intentions are challenged when his female canine friend Mimi comes to town. Clifford’s Big Idea: Help Others Cleo, with some help from K.C., prepares a special gift for Clifford and T-Bone and expects a BIG gift in return.

KLRU announces local PBS Kids Writers Contest Winners

writers contest 2015

Today, KLRU announced the local winners of the 2014 PBS KIDS Writers Contest. The first place winners in grades K-3 will advance to the national level of the contest. Over 235 creative entries were received from local children and 13 winners were chosen for first place, second place, and third place recognitions:

1ST PLACE WINNERS:

2ND PLACE WINNERS:

3RD PLACE WINNERS:

“At KLRU we were truly inspired by the enthusiasm and talent that this year’s contest entries demonstrated,” said Ben Kramer, Director of KLRU’s Educational Services Department. “Each year KLRU is a proud participant in PBS KIDS’ annual Writers Contest as it advances KLRU’s commitment to helping grow children’s literacy skills while encouraging expression and imagination. KLRU celebrates the talented children of our community and we wish the winners advancing to the national contest the best of luck.”

You can read all stories submitted in the KLRU area

The annual PBS KIDS Writers Contest is a national initiative designed to promote the advancement of children’s literacy skills through hands-on, active learning. The contest encourages children in grades K-3 to celebrate creativity by submitting their own original stories and illustrations.

KLRU’s first place winners will advance to the national contest and a panel of some of America’s foremost children’s authors, illustrators and content experts will serve as honorary judges and rank the top 12 finalists. National winners will be announced this summer and the winning stories will be featured on pbskids.org/writerscontest.

The national winners will receive prizes courtesy of national prizing sponsor, LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. Winners will receive a prize package that will include LeapFrog’s award-winning LeapReader Reading and Writing System. The contest is also made possible through national promotional support from Highlights for Children. The PBS KIDS Writers Contest is produced by PBS and based on the Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, a concept developed by WNED-TV, Buffalo.

To learn more about the contest, visit pbskids.org/writerscontest.

Sat., Aug. 25: KLRU joins with Whole Foods and PBS Kids in Fantastic Organic!

PBS Parents has recently launched a new website with Whole Foods called Fantastic Organic where you can find collected tips, ideas, recipes, videos and games to encourage you and your family to explore organic produce and foods.

KLRU is joining in the fun, too! Saturday, August 25, the new Whole Foods Market at Arbor Trails in South Austin will have a fun run, an in-store organic scavenger hunt, and our very own Biscuit Brothers! The events start at 8:00 am with the fun run at 8:00 am, then yoga at 10:00 am. The Biscuits take the stage at noon as the scavenger hunt commences. While there, pick up a schedule of our fall PBS Kids lineup, including the debut of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, and consider the KLRU Explorers family membership!


Topfer Family Foundation Supports Raising Readers

The Topfer Family Foundation has awarded KLRU a $5,000 grant for its PBS Kids Raising Readers program, which empowers parents and caregivers to create language-rich environments by teaching strategies that build early literacy skills anytime, anywhere – strategies that incorporate PBS children’s media. KLRU’s Raising Readers workshops assist low-income families with children between the ages of 2-8 years old, some of whom have English as a second language at home. Our station partners with educational nonprofits and Austin-area schools to serve thousands of parents, caregivers and children through workshops and events each year. We’re so grateful to the Foundation for supporting early literacy in Central Texas. Thank you!

KLRU & Foundation Communities partner for literacy project

KLRU is participating in the national PBS Kids Raising Reader Library Corner literacy project. The first of the station’s KLRU Library Corners opened March 30 at the Sierra Ridge Learning Center at Foundation Communities.

PBS Kids Raising Readers Library Corner project takes resources and activities that are research-based to give children and parents the opportunity to strengthen literacy skills through fun, engaging multi-media platforms. Parents, caregivers, teachers, and kids can all use these resources. The corner is a small, colorful space where kids can feel free to play games on a computer, read a book, or watch an educational and interactive literacy skill-building DVD. The Library Corners also feature characters from favorite books and PBS KIDS programs. All activities – including self-directed worksheets, online videos, parent-led activities, and more – are based on an existing literacy framework that has its foundation in the National Reading Panel recommendations, encompassing skills such as letter recognition, print awareness, and vocabulary instruction.

Founded in 1989, Foundation Communities is a  nationally-recognized organization that empowers low-to-moderate-income families and individuals to succeed.  Their programs include quality, affordable housing, tools to increase educational and economic standing and supportive services for homeless families and individuals. Find out more at foundcom.org

In addition to the Sierra Ridge Learning Center at Foundation Communities, KLRU will host two more Library Corners scheduled to open later this year.

KLRU loses Dragon Tales

Dear PBS Kids, I miss Dragon Tales.  Can you put Drangon Tales on PBS Kids?  LoveAdam.  [PBS Kids, University of Texas, CMB

Since KLRU did not have a return address on this sweet letter, we thought to post our response here.

KLRU and PBS had no choice but to discontinue the Dragon Tales series due to the loss of broadcast rights.

Contact the producers for more information.

Sesame Workshop
One Lincoln Plaza
New York, NY 10023.

You can also check You Tube for videos.