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Tips on Surviving Remote Teaching from 7 PBS Certified Media Literacy Educators

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PBS Certified Media Literacy Educators

There’s no magic wand that we can wave to make remote teaching easy and flawless. But we can learn from other educators what’s worked for them and aim to keep improving our teaching practice. Some of our newest PBS Certified Media Literacy Educators offer up great tips on remote instruction and share why they find teaching media literacy so valuable for their students.

Merek Chang

Merek Chang, a high school biology and chemistry teacher in Southern California, loves learning with his students. “The best part about teaching media literacy is knowing that I do not have to know everything about my content matter and working with students to learn and access content together.”

For Merek, remote learning is not about getting everything perfect: “The biggest thing is to not be too hard on yourself. This is as much a learning process for us as teachers as it is for students.” He recommends professional learning opportunities like the PBS Media Literacy Educator Certification by KQED to get exposed to new pedagogical ideas and approaches you might not have realized existed.

Check out Merek’s website to see more about his practice and perspectives on teaching.

Kara Clayton

Kara Clayton, a video production educator in Redford, Michigan, loves to teach media creation because it “gives students an opportunity to amplify their voice about issues that are of importance to them.” A leader in the field, Kara is the producer of the Summer Institute in Digital Literacy which will be fully online this year.

Kara’s advice on remote learning is to learn how to pick just one or two digital tools and learn to use them well. “Don’t latch on to the newest bright and shiny app/website just because it looks cool. Also, be very explicit with instructions for students. They don’t have you in the room with them so anything you post needs to stand on its own without support from you.”


“I am helping my small, rural district find ways to improve our access to technology and train our teachers in using media and tech in the classroom to better meet student needs in the 21st century.”

Stephanie Clewis

Stephanie Clewis of Sleeping Giant Middle School in Livingston, Montana, is excited about how media literacy “helps foster the skills students will need as adults and gives them opportunities to be creators of media and not just consumers.”

Stephanie is proud of being a technology leader in her community. Not only is she PBS certified, but  she is also the first and only teacher in her district to receive level 2 Google Certification. “I am helping my small, rural district find ways to improve our access to technology and train our teachers in using media and tech in the classroom to better meet student needs in the 21st century.”

Jayne Lecky

Jayne Lecky, a science and art teacher in Northern California, is enthusiastic about the potential to amplify the voices of her students and give them a broad, authentic audience. She loves “seeing their thoughts, feelings and discoveries unfold, then shared on a platform all can see, not just me the teacher.”

Her advice for remote learning: “Baby steps. Ask for help.Take the time to become familiar with the Google suite. It’ll help you, protect you, make things easier to grade, document, and assign.”

Nicole Pfaff

Nicole Pfaff, a high school English teacher in San Jose, California, focuses on how media literacy can increase engagement in the classroom. “Media literacy can be a way for students to connect with you, for you to connect with your students, and a way for students to demonstrate mastery of skills in a fun way that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”

In terms of supporting remote learning, Nicole advises teachers to take a hard look at their lesson plans:

“Remote learning is a great opportunity to take stock of what you teach and verify that each lesson directly leads to the learning outcomes you’re hoping students accomplish as a result of that unit. Look over your first semester units, one by one, and decide what the top 3 learning goals are for each unit. Then, look through your lessons in that unit: do they all contribute the skills needed for students to achieve those learning goals?”

Traci Piltz

Traci Piltz, who leads Technology Integration in Billings, Montana, loves the way that media literacy fosters student teamwork: “Seeing students create, problem solve, collaborate with one another and share to an audience of peers or parents is one of my favorite parts of my job!”

She notes that the switch to remote learning doesn’t mean that teachers need to pause their own learning. “This summer is an amazing time to learn and grow as professionals via virtual conferences, webinars and workshops.“ Traci will be presenting at the Teach with Tech Conference, Great Plains Summit, Mountain Moot, and MCCE Summit webinar series.

Check out her website for more of her recommended resources for teachers.

Amy Westrope

Amy Westrope, an elementary teacher in Billings, Montana, observes that her students are “growing up in such a digital world that it is important for us as teachers to be sure that they are using and making media in thoughtful ways.” She loves to see them express their ideas and creativity through digital media and is focused on “helping them become the best digital citizens they can be from an early age.”

For transitioning to remote learning, she recommends finding a support group like the one that she is in with several other Montana educators, led by Nikki Vradenburg of Montana PBS.


Inspired by these educators? Want to join their ranks? Check out the PBS Media Literacy Educator Certification by KQED. By earning eight micro-credentials, you can improve your media literacy teaching practice, get direct feedback from education experts and join a community of educators in this growing field. And if you need help developing media literacy skills, sign up for one of the free, instructor-led courses offered by the KQED Media Academy.

Learn more at kqed.org/certification or email me at rpanganiban@kqed.org.


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