NBC Learn

This Month‘s Featured Teaching and Learning Resources from NBC Learn


Welcome Friends of NBC Learn!

Congratulations to all of our teachers and student users on the end of a successful school year! It’s been a great year for us here at NBC Learn, especially because of the new innovations we’ve put into place and the customers we’ve met in person and in webinar trainings. Here are some numbers we’re especially proud of as we look back at the year:

  • 1,886: Number of videos that we’ve added to NBC Learn since August, 2014
  • 203,514: Number of followers on our Google+ Page!
  • 929: Number of tweets sent using #nbclearnchat in our first NBC Learn Twitter chat ever!
  • 36: Number of subjects covered in our new NBC Learn User Toolkit (Check it out here!)
  • 10: Number of Learning Management Systems (LMSes) that we’ve integrated with … so far
Remember, it’s the ability to leverage the output of a major news media organization, plus our personal customer support that make NBC Learn so unique. The NBC Learn newsletter will be on hiatus for June and July, but we look forward to seeing you in August!

The NBC Learn Team

 Featured Videos in May

Connect with Current Events


The past few months have been filled with so many important news stories that you may not have had time to review them all with your students. The end of the year is a perfect time to show them videos that can provide history and context to some complicated issues around the world and here at home.

After 18 months of negotiations, the US and Iran have a framework for a nuclear deal. What led to this breakthrough, and why has the relationship between the two countries been filled with animosity since the hostage crisis in 1979? And what about the Iranians – how do they feel about the pending deal? This playlist will offer some ideas and context: K12 / HE


In December, President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, after almost sixty years of hostility. Our playlist (K12 / HEwill take your students back to famous Cold War confrontations like the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis. And in more recent videos, they can hear from young Cubans about their hopes for more normalized relations with the U.S. 

Seattle CEO

One of our favorite recent stories was about Seattle CEO Dan Price, who slashed his own paycheck from about $1 million to $70,000, while raising his employees’ minimum salary to $70,000. Why has this story sparked a conversation about the income gap in America, and why do economists think that gap is widening? Watch this playlist: K12 / HE

And in case you missed our March Twitter Chat on ways to use our Current Event resources in the classroom, check out all the great suggestions from teachers HERE.

Innovations in May

The month of May contains anniversaries of some of the most important technological innovations the world has ever witnessed. On May 24, 1844, F. B. Morse sent the first message by telegraph, on a line from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore. Do you know what that message was? (Hint: it was taken from the Bible, Numbers 23:23 and was suggested to Morse by Annie Ellsworth, the young daughter of a friend.) The telegraph immediately revolutionized America’s national communication system.

The Transcontinental Railroad was finally completed on May 9, 1869, and like the telegraph, it transformed the U.S. economy in ways never imagined. And almost a century later, on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space, putting America back in the space race and spurring our voyages beyond planet earth. 

Learning about these and other innovations is a great way to bring interdisciplinary topics to your classes. In a science class, for example, have your students research the innovation itself: how it was built, how it worked, and what materials were used. In a business or economics class, you might have them discuss how the innovation came to market and the effects it had on economic growth. And in a humanities class, have your students research how that innovation transformed its times, or how it impacted literature and art of the era. 

Samuel Morse's Telegraph

K-12 | Higher Ed

  Transcontinental Railroad    

K-12 | Higher Ed

             Alan Shepard             

K-12 | Higher Ed

NBC Learn K-12 Subscriber Spotlight: Honing Debate Skills through Current Events

Meet Steven James, a 7th and 8th grade Social Studies teacher at Onondaga Junior Senior High School in New York. James has been using NBC Learn for almost seven years and says that it’s changed the dynamics of his classroom in several ways: 

Sparking Discussion: “I believe that you need to create three or four activities per 40-minute class to really ensure that students stay engaged. I’ve dedicated my first block to NBC Learn.” James explains that he likes to use NBC Learn to start his classes because it really helps to get discussions going. “I’ll usually ask a few leading questions, and then we will watch the video clip and prompt students to respond.” 

“It’s so important for students to talk and participate in class. With NBC Learn, even students who struggle with social studies or don’t normally feel comfortable participating will voice an opinion. It is really wonderful to see.” 

Teaching Debate Skills: James says that NBC Learn videos have been critical in teaching effective debate skills. His students understand that they need to back up their arguments with factual information to present a strong case. Additionally, James says that NBC Learn has helped his students appreciate opinions that are not their own. “Instead of just plainly saying ‘you’re wrong,’ students now present their opinions much more appropriately.” 

Creating Relevancy with the Constitution: James will begin teaching the Constitution and Bill of Rights starting next week. He is especially excited about the section of our U.S. Government and Politics collection called The Living Constitution. This section, which breaks down each article and amendment, is a great way to look at relevant cases so that students understand how the Constitution and amendments still play out today.

James notes, for example, that “it is great to be able to talk about the search and seizure amendment, watch a video where it may have been violated, and then discuss that. Students can debate whether or not they think the constitutional amendment was violated, and then we can actually watch what the Supreme Court said in the most recent case! This is an incredibly valuable asset to have at my disposal.”  

HERE is James' playlist on the Constitution and Bill of Rights

HERE is one of James’ favorite playlists that focuses on students in the news. 

NBC Learn Higher Ed Subscriber Spotlight: Using Video for Effective Flipped Classroom Activities

Meet Kimberly Coffman, a Psychology professor at Miami Dade College. Coffman teaches several courses at the College, including Psychology of Personal Effectiveness, Social Psychology, Forensic Psychology and Psychology of Genocide. Coffman uses NBC Learn in a few interesting ways: 

Flipped Classroom: Coffman put together an online exercise using NBC Learn to introduce the psychological concept of perception before she started her lecture series. She had her students watch an NBC Learn video of the Northern Lights and asked them to respond with their perceptions of the video.  Then, she had them watch the video again. This time, she had them describe the video as if they were colorblind. She then had her students self-reflect about describing it with and without color. “My students struggled with responses—they couldn’t go back to seeing it just one way without thinking about the other possibility. This exercise brought about the understanding that reality is all perception. The responses were really powerful and my students were really excited to come to lecture and discuss the activity.”

Engage Students Through Discussion: Coffman asks students to post NBC Learn videos on a discussion thread to start a conversation, explain a theory or back up an important concept. Other students can then respond with videos furthering that conversation or concept or perhaps even contradicting it! “The videos truly help my students take knowledge of a theory they learned and contextualize it. It makes it easier for them to demonstrate that they understand it.” 

May Twitter Chats!

Please join our next Twitter chat, on May 13th at 6 PM EST, on the topic of Sparking Summer Reading! Share your ideas using #NBCLearnChat

As educators, you know the first few weeks of school can be time to move ahead, or review old material. The “summer slide,” or losing important academic skills during the summer months when school is out, can take up valuable classroom time when school gets back in session. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to happen. Join Education Nation on Twitter using the hash tag #ToolkitTalk on Tuesday, May 19th at 7pm ET and share your tips for what parents can do to keep their kids from falling behind. 

How are you using NBC Learn as a teaching and learning resource? E-mail us at newsletter@nbclearn.com with examples of NBC Learn videos that especially engaged your students or summaries of your lessons.  We may feature you in a future K-12 or Higher Ed Subscriber Spotlight!

Want to read more Subscriber Spotlights? On the Home page of NBC Learn K-12 or NBC Learn Higher Ed, look under the heading NBC Learn in the Classroom.

Follow NBC Learn on Social Media:

NBC Learn FacebookNBC Learn TwitterNBC Learn EdmotoNBC Learn Google+

NBC Learn
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
(877) NBC — 7502