Chandler Park Academy teacher Shernita Rodgers is one of the instructors on the Michigan Learning Channel’s new “Read, Write, Roar” program.

Chandler Park Academy teacher Shernita Rodgers is one of the instructors on the Michigan Learning Channel’s new “Read, Write, Roar” program.

Photo provided by Kristin Sokul


New Michigan Learning Channel program features Chandler Park teacher

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published April 20, 2021

HARPER WOODS — A teacher at Chandler Park Academy in Harper Woods will be highlighted on the Michigan Learning Channel’s new “Read, Write, Roar” program.

The Michigan Learning Channel, which launched in January over the air on Detroit Public Television Channel 56.5 to deliver instructional content and programming to students, parents and teachers throughout Michigan, developed “Read, Write, Roar” to help provide at-home support for families, particularly during times when many students are learning from home.

“The whole Michigan Learning Channel was created in many ways because we saw that during the pandemic we were seeing that many students don’t have internet access,” said Gillian Gainsley, the program director of the MLC. “Teachers can’t send internet-related assignments home, so putting resources on TV was a way to overcome that issue. It also lets students further explore topics on their own.”

“Read, Write, Roar” will feature three programs shown back to back, with one aimed at first graders, one aimed at second graders, and one aimed at third graders. Shernita Rodgers, a K-3 teacher at Chandler Park Academy, is one of eight teachers who will contribute on the air.

“I am teaching first grade content,” explained Rodgers. “It’s labeled first grade, but anyone can experience this information. It would be providing lessons on television and offering links on an accompanying website for more resources.”

She said that the goal is to engage students even though they are only watching the teacher on screen.

“We will introduce foundational skills for word building and writing,” Rodgers said. “When teaching virtually, building community is still important. You have a virtual classroom online, so you still want to make sure students still have a voice. When it’s a television program, you can’t answer questions, but you can still ask them. You want to still give them the chance to respond and be engaged. It’s like when you sing along when watching ‘Sesame Street.’ This way it’s not just something they’re watching, it’s something they’re doing. You also want to connect it to their lives and the world around them. You want to make it relevant to them.”

Georgeann Herbert, the senior vice president of strategy for Detroit Public Television, said that bringing in actual Michigan teachers was important to the creators of “Read, Write, Roar.” They also wanted to make sure the teachers would be able to showcase their personal teaching styles.

“We wanted to pull Michigan teachers onto the channel in a big way,” she remarked. “‘Colorado Classroom’ was our inspiration for this program, and they used Colorado teachers. We wanted to bring local teachers who were familiar with Michigan students and how subjects are taught here. … We said from the very beginning, we knew we were very good at the water and pipes or in other words the distribution, but we needed educators to provide the water for those pipes. The first step was that they assembled 14 literacy coaches around the state. They reviewed the literacy materials Detroit Public Television has put out during the pandemic, but we knew we needed to create additional content to meet educational standards and meet the schedule of when things are taught in the classroom.”

Rodgers said this was an opportunity she applied to because it sounded like an initiative that she would really believe in.

“I was on my lunch break and I turned on the television and saw teaching on the Michigan Learning Channel,” she said. “So I sent an email to them and asked if there was a way I could contribute, and I received an email back saying I was selected to participate. I always have wanted to be involved with Detroit Public Television since I was a child, so this was a wonderful opportunity that came true.”

Gainsley said that the feedback they have gotten since “Read, Write, Roar” premiered has been positive, but it can be hard to tell since so little time has passed.

“Two half-hour episodes a week is a great way to keep kids engaged and keep them interested and fresh (with regard to) what they’re learning in school,” she said. “These lessons were developed alongside literacy essentials, which are proven best practices for teaching, so it lets teachers show off their techniques for teaching and engaging students.”

Part of the goal of the program is to make sure resources are available to all families, including those without reliable access to the internet.

“Research suggests that parents are concerned their children have fallen because of the pandemic,” said Herbert. “This is technology they know — just turning on a television. It gives an opportunity for the child with their parent to recapture some of the skills they may have missed or haven’t had to be ready for school in the fall.”

A schedule for programming is available at www.michiganlearning.org/schedule.

“There are two new episodes per week,” explained Herbert. “This series will go through June, and then there is a summer learning program that takes over in the summer.”

Rodgers hopes this will help fill in a gap in education that may have been lacking during the last year of closures and quarantines.

“This is finally an experience students can watch with their friends or classmates, but they also can watch it with their peers, either together or separately,” she said. “It lets them see teaching from a different perspective. They can use the materials provided from the website that go with some of the lessons. There’s lots of opportunities to engage with the program. It impressed me a lot; this way it is an interactive experience.”