What’s On This May and Learning Resources

Our program director shares what shows and specials we're airing this month. Plus classroom resources to accompany them.

Happy Spring! I don’t know about you, but for me this season always brings new energy and joy – along with greater desire to explore outside and maybe less desire to be “working.” But that’s not always bad! In fact, place-based education is a growing framework that encourages teachers and students to consider place – land, water, history, culture, people – in their learning. We got to join some of the educators leading Michigan in this work through the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative and its network of connected hubs across the state. The kind of place-based learning the GLSI encourages is a great place to start for students of all ages who want to dig into where they live, who and what else lives there and has lived there, how we’re all connected – and what we should do about it all.

Check out some of the stories we captured from the 2023 Place-Based Learning conference in Grand Rapids, including a brief “get started with place-based learning” video for educators and some exciting educator stories that might give you some ideas that you could bring to your students before the end of the year!

Another place-based project we’re super excited about is our Iconic Michigan project. Inspired by the PBS program Iconic America, we asked Michigan teachers and students to tell stories that showcase what’s “iconic” about communities across our state. If you’re looking for an end-of-year hands-on project for your students, check out the resources, and stay tuned for the upcoming project showcase on our site later this month.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month - Starts May 1

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, PBS has got you covered. PBS’s Asian Americans is an incredibly thorough and relevant collection that includes video content and lesson plans to help your students uncover the rich history of Asian American identity across the country. Your students will be amazed at the role Asian Americans have played throughout history, and energized to continue to fight for justice and inclusion for the AAPI community.

One of my other favorite programs from PBS is American Masters, and this month we’re highlighting the Amy Tan episode because she’s a remarkable author and because we know that many classrooms in Michigan teach her famous novel The Joy Luck Club. Use the resources from PBS LearningMedia to more deeply engage your students with the author’s personal life, inspiration, and connections to the AAPI community and culture.

On Air for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month:

Asian Americans: A four-part documentary
May 21 at 8:00pm
Asian Americans is a a film series that delivers a bold, fresh perspective on a history that matters today, more than ever. As America becomes more diverse, and more divided, while facing unimaginable challenges, how do we move forward together? Told through intimate and personal lives, the series will cast a new lens on U.S. history and the ongoing role that Asian Americans have played in shaping the nation’s story.

Armed with Language
May 10 at 11:00pm
Minnesota was home to a little-known military intelligence school during WWII that trained Japanese Americans be to translators. Primarily recruited from concentration camps on the West Coast, these men and women served while many of their families remained imprisoned. For their efforts it is said that they “shortened the Pacific War by two years and saved possibly a million American lives.”

American Masters: Amy Tan
May 27 at 10:00pm
An intimate portrait of the groundbreaking writer that interweaves archival imagery, including home movies and personal photographs, animation and original interviews to tell the inspiring story of Tan’s life and career.

Learning Resources

Asian Americans Collection | PBS LearningMedia
Over thirty lesson plans based on the Asian American series. You’ll find this collection to include the stories behind the Chinese Exclusion Act, the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, Southeast Asian refugees after the Vietnam War, Filipino American Farmworkers, the fight for civil rights and much more.

Anti-Asian Racism: Connections in History | PBS LearningMedia
This collection of educational resources will help students make sense of anti-Asian racism today by connecting it with history. Americans of Asian descent have lived and contributed to the development of the United States. The first Asian American arrived in the United States in the 1500s—Filipinos who landed on the shores of Central California with a Spanish galleon.

Mental Health Month - Starts May 1

May is also Mental Health Awareness month, and while I’m a huge advocate for cultivating positive mental health through representation and cultural awareness and learning about and spending time in nature with the resources I’ve shared so far, it’s also hugely important to have intentional conversations about what mental health is and how we can care for ourselves and each other. PBS’ Well Beings program offers a ton of short-form video content and turnkey discussion guides and activities for understanding and advocating for youth mental health. 

We have our own mental health episode of Extra Credit on the Michigan Learning Channel as well as a statewide resource center. We also think the Relationships Initiative, which includes a ton of helpful identity and relationship building activities, is relevant any time of the year, and we’d love to work with you and your students on creating a mental health video to add to our collection!

By the way, PBS KIDS has all kinds of content that can help younger students navigate emotions, identity, conflict, and other mental health challenges – use the PBS LearningMedia personal, mental, and emotional health collection to filter by grade level and content.

On Air for Mental Health Month:

Facing Suicide
May 7 at 7:30pm
May 9 at 7:30pm
Facing Suicide combines the poignant personal stories of people impacted by suicide with profiles of scientists at the forefront of research to reveal new insights into one of America’s most pressing mental health crises. The documentary shines a light on this difficult topic can destigmatize suicide while revealing that there is help as well as hope for those at risk and their loved ones.

Learning Resources

Suicide Prevention | Mind Frame
Suicide is a difficult topic, but we have to talk about it. Suicide rates are on the rise for young people. Learn about suicide prevention with host Griffin Greear, and what to do if someone you know is contemplating suicide.

What Causes Suicide? | You Are Not Alone
Experts in adolescent medicine and suicide research explain the factors that contribute to the rise in youth suicides. Dr. Hatim Omar, an adolescent medicine specialist at the University of Kentucky, and Melinda Moore, PhD, a psychology professor at Eastern Kentucky University, both agree that limiting access to lethal means of suicide is crucial to reducing overall rates. This video segment is part of You Are Not Alone, a youth mental health series produced by KET.

Using Social Networks to Prevent Suicide | You Are Not Alone
A Kentucky school’s Sources of Strength (SOS) program uses social networks to help prevent suicide among teens and spread messages of hope and resolve. This video segment is part of You Are Not Alone, a youth mental health series produced by KET.

Memorial Day - May 27

On Air for Memorial Day

The Ghost Army 
May 24 at 9:00pm
The remarkable story of a US Army unit who used inflatable tanks, sound effects and sketches to create a deceptive battlefield picture and fool the enemy.

Learning Resources

Why We Fight | PBS LearningMedia
While the battle against fascism was won during World War II, in the years following the war, Americans were faced with the existing double-standard of having fought for freedom abroad while cultivating a system of discrimination at home. This video from The Supreme Court discusses how, over the next 20 years, American society and the Supreme Court faced an upward climb to make fairness and equality the law.

Remember Pearl Harbor: A 75th Anniversary Electronic Field Trip
Student reporters hear first hand from eyewitnesses who were 11-20 years of age during the time of the surprise attacks. Also sharing their stories are military survivors who were at Pearl Harbor during the attacks. These recollections will bring the experience to life and serve as an excellent primary source in teaching students.