As a rural state, broadband availability is exceedingly low in Maine. When the pandemic hit and Maine schools transitioned to online learning this past spring, nearly 50,000 students in the state were left without access to educational lessons and resources.
Maine Public quickly realized that our statewide television network could bridge this gap and reach students without internet or the tools to access resources online. We partnered with the Maine Department of Education and Educate Maine and in three weeks, created “The Learning Space,” which provides daily lessons for grades 3-5.
These lessons were designed by teachers, many “Teacher of the Year” winners, many of whom learned new technology skills in order to film and produce high quality video segments. The first episode on multi-modal documentary writing aired on April 27 and remains our most popular segment.
In total, “The Learning Space” aired 37 different episodes created by 26 participating educators, representing 11 of Maine’s 16 counties. It was accessible free on television, as well as via cable, satellite, and online. In addition to the television viewership, nearly 6,000 lessons have been accessed online.
These lessons were designed to pique students’ curiosity and challenge them to think deeply, wonder, reflect, and discover through activities and topics including nature notebooking, mini-comics, found poetry, positivity beats, penny science, using maps to ignite storytelling, reading photographs like a historian, understanding plate tectonics, math mysteries, fun with equivalent fractions and trail mix, fraction splat, and graphing data with a scavenger hunt.
Students listened to Vivaldi’s “Spring,” traveled virtually to Kenya on a special field mission, and learned how to create sculptures in using materials found in nature, such as twigs, sticks, and pinecones. Maine authors shared writing tips with students, and throughout the series, kids had the chance to virtually meet notable community members highlighted on the show.
Students learned how to reflect on their own learning by using simple building blocks or other found objects in their homes. Finally, many lessons included mindfulness moments and breathing exercises to help students center themselves and manage their emotions during a challenging time.