Teacher Feature: Battle of the Hominids with PBS LearningMedia

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Cheryl Morris (@guster4lovers) is a sixth grade humanities teacher at Del Mar Middle School in Tiburon, California. Cheryl gets to bring more than just a strong educational technology background into her classroom: she also brings puppets. Students become creators using their own puppets and the MacBooks they are issued for the duration of middle school. Cheryl also loves helping her fellow teachers implement new technology into their classrooms and enjoys creating digital media for the school as part of the technology committee. Here is an example of how she is using PBS LearningMedia with her students. Share your PBS LearningMedia stories here.

Why are you using PBS LearningMedia in your classroom?

I like that PBS is investing in creators, like in The Art Assignment, and giving them the tools to make content they may not have been able to afford to make any other way. I also like that there are lots of primary sources that have resources to help students understand the context, aesthetics, and history of the source. It is conveniently curated and free, as well, which is great!

How have you used PBS LearningMedia recently?

In our unit on Hominids and Early Humans, I had students watch several of the videos about Neanderthals and other Hominids because it helped them to understand their lives better when seeing where they were living, what they made, what they ate, etc. These videos served as the foundation for our Battle of the Hominids project. For this project students wrote a story about the life of Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus or the Neanderthals.


What resources did you use?

Investigating Neanderthals
In this video excerpt from NOVA scienceNOW, correspondent and New York Times technology columnist David Pogue introduces the timeline of human evolution and explores the shapes of hominid heads.

Links in the Evolutionary Chain
This video segment from The Human Spark explores some of the branches of our family tree as host Alan Alda visits the Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Homo Sapiens Versus Neanderthals
This video explore the origins of modern humans. Fossil evidence from Middle East caves and elsewhere has revealed some competitive advantages modern humans, known as Homo sapiens, are believed to have held over the more archaic human species, Neanderthals.

Why Do We Cook?
This video explore the basic biology behind why humans cook food.

NOVA: Becoming Human | Fossil Evidence of Bipedalism
In this video segment adapted from NOVA, see how paleoanthropologists—including Don Johanson, with his famous discovery of the Australopithecus afarensis "Lucy"—have used the fossil record to identify a large number of fairly similar bipedal species that encompass ancestors of humans and related species.

Suggestions for getting started with multimedia?

Videos and photographs bring life to any subject or topic, particularly for students now, who live in a digital world unlike any other generation before them. By using those primary sources and visually-rich texts, students can experience life in other eras, or see scientific principles come to life. Practically, I start by searching for the historical content or skill I'm teaching, and look through the options. There are usually lots, so I typically then filter by grade level or media type.

About PBS LearningMedia

PBS LearningMedia offers teachers and students the FREE digital resources they want when they want them.  PBS LearningMedia has more than 100k trusted digital resources drawn from critically acclaimed PBS programs such as NOVA, FRONTLINE, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and PBS KIDS programs like SID THE SCIENCE KID, as well as federal agencies such as The National Archives and NASA. Each resource showcases the subject, grade level and corresponding alignment to national and Common Core standards, and is presented within hierarchies of commonly taught topical areas, allowing users to browse the collections easily.

On the site users are able to search, view and share selected resources and save and organize content through a “favorites” feature. PBS LearningMedia features video footage as well as audio clips, interactives, photographs, animations, interviews, and graphics presented with extensive contextual information and teacher support materials.

Productivity tools including a Lesson Builder, Storyboard tool, and Quiz Maker enable deeper engagement with content and allow educators to create personalized, interactive activities for students that can be used in the classroom or as homework assignments.

Sign up for a free PBS LearningMedia account to search, save and create interactive experiences.