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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / WTCI Educational Content Producer Corey Knollinger, front, talks with UTC student Johnny Martin while filming an educational lesson about yoga at WTCI in Chattanooga on Wednesday, March 17, 2021.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's School of Education, Hamilton County Schools and local PBS station WTCI have partnered to record and broadcast short lessons for K-12 students to improve their math and literacy skills.

"The goal is just to serve as an additional learning resource for children, for families, to support K-12 education," said Kendra Duncan, of the UTC School of Education. "Here in Hamilton County, the emphasis is on early childhood education, so pre-K-2, but our UTC students are creating content pre-K-12."

The lessons are typically 6 to 12 minutes in length and sometimes up to 24 minutes. There are also "brain breaks" that focus on concepts like mindfulness or reminding children how to wear masks correctly.

Students from UTC's School of Education will record lessons along with students in other UTC programs, such as the master of public health program. Additionally, teachers in Hamilton County Schools and high school students in the UTC Institute of Teaching and Learning, a Future Ready Institute at Tyner Academy, will record lessons.

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Recording K-12 lessons

The channel is active and broadcasts K-12 learning content from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Alea Tveit, education outreach coordinator at WTCI. Eventually, content made by teachers and students at UTC and Hamilton County Schools will contribute to that 12 hours of programming a day, along with state and national PBS educators.

"That's going to be a combination and is currently a combination of that locally created content coming from UTC students, coming from Hamilton County educators, coming from high school students, coming from community partners," Tveit said, "Basically everyone we're partnering with, we want to make it sort of a collaborative open space for communities to teach to their expertise."

In November, the station received federal coronavirus relief funds to create an education channel. Recording began in January, Tveit said, and teachers from Hamilton County Schools recorded 33 episodes aimed at pre-K through second grade in the second week of January.

Johnny Martin is a UTC student majoring in child and family studies recording a lesson for the WTCI Educate channel. Incorporating yoga and the story "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," Martin's 12-minute lesson includes concepts like math, science, focus and recall aimed at pre-K-2 students.

"They're gonna get the sequencing, the counting, the recall, the focus and concentration, the engagement that we're going to entail into the physical aspect of it, as well as reading a book, because most kids see their vocabulary increase the more words they use," Martin said.

While students were out of the classroom for large portions of the school year, most teacher candidates at UTC could not be in the classroom, either. Recording lessons gives teaching students a chance to practice what they have learned.

"This is an opportunity for our students to still be engaged in significant work so that they can support K-12 learning, and they can continue to practice and use best practices for teaching and learning, they can continue to do all the things that a teacher does to develop aligned learning objectives and learning targets that are based on the Tennessee curriculum standards," Duncan said. "They get to practice all those skills as we ready them to meet their own classrooms by taking part in this activity."

At WTCI, Tveit is excited to work with educators and students to make an impact on education.

"I think knowing that this is intentionally trying to center community, it's sort of the heartbeat of this whole process, and certainly that conversation around educational access and equity and us lending our resources to that is something that this whole channel is about," Tveit said.

The WTCI Educate content airs at channel 45.4 on antenna, EPB channel 304 and online on the WTCI Educate YouTube channel.

Contact Anika Chaturvedi at achaturvedi@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592.

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