Directions: Read the summary, watch the videos and answer the discussion questions below. You may want to turn on the “CC” (closed-captions) function. To watch more Opportunity in America videos via the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs (SRL), click here. Once you watch all three videos, answer the following question: What are some factors that tie all three videos together?
First, watch the featured video, “Closing the skills gap” below. Video produced by Ethan Schwindt at Middle Creek High School in North Carolina. Instruction provided by SRL Connected Educator Luis Maldonado. Mentorship provided by SRL associate producer Kristy Choi. Station support provided by UNC-TV.
Summary: In the SRL video, “Closing the skills gap” reporter Ethan Schwindt talks to students and teachers who are taking advantage of a program called SkillsUSA in North Carolina. The program sheds light on the importance of trades’ jobs like technicians, wielders, electricians and plumbers and provides students with the necessary training to enter these fields. According to Peyton Holland, the president of SkillsUSA, there are six million vacant jobs in the U.S., because Americans lack the skills needed to fill them. The average tradesperson in America is 56-years-old and the amount of people working in certain skilled positions is starting to dwindle, according to Holland.
1) Essential question: Why might trade schools be an important option for students?
2) In order to have appliances and fixtures like proper circuitry or insulation in a home, people need skilled workers. Do you think the public needs to have more awareness and appreciation for the importance of the trades?
3) Would you consider going to a trade school when you graduate high school? Why or why not? Do you think there’s a negative stigma around people who don’t follow a four-year college path? Explain.
4) Media literacy: What else can you find out about SkillsUSA, including who funds it?
Next, watch “Breaking stereotypes through dance.” Sumeet Gulati, a student at Pine Crest School in Florida, uses Bhangra, a folk dance associated with Punjabi culture in India, to spread cultural awareness with others. He works with his team captains to teach dances to members of the group who perform for their community.
1) Essential question: How might learning about different cultures be beneficial to individuals as well as an entire community?
2) Is there something you do on a specific holiday that makes it feel special? What is it and what makes it special?
Lastly, watch “Social Connections.” In Southern California, West Ranch High School senior Maggie Lin organizes weekly visits to a local elementary school classroom for students with special needs. Lin is the president of a program called Help A Life Out (HALO). She organizes weekly visits to an elementary school classroom for students with special needs. The program aims to make the students feel welcomed and includes dancing, crafting and other interactive activities.
Produced by Caylen Greenberg, Anne Taguba and Brian No at West Ranch High School in California. Instruction provided by SRL Connected Educator Jennifer Overdevest. Mentorship provided by SRL associate producer Kristy Choi. Station support provided by PBS SoCal.
1) Essential question: Why are programs like “HALO” helpful to student volunteers and those they serve?
2) Inclusion and connection allow us to understand the people and the world around us. There are communities of people, like those who have special needs, that are sometimes left out of opportunities. How can you educate others to be more inclusive? What does inclusion mean to you? If you had the chance to create a program similar to HALO, how would it operate and what opportunities would it provide?
3) Do you have a program like HALO associated with your school? If you were in Maggie Lin’s shoes, what might you hope to take away from the experience?
1. Take a look at other videos from the Opportunity in America project by PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. Choose your favorite story and explain why the opportunities available for students are important in the present and the future.
2. Check out this Daily News Story on Extra, “What does opportunity look like? Student journalists explore pipeline jobs in West Virginia,” and complete the accompanying activity.
Visit PBS NewsHour Extra for more education resources designed to help teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories. You can read the original story here. @NewsHourExtra