Monday, June 27, 2022

8 Entertaining TV Shows for Teachers on Vacation

After another year of teaching during the Covid pandemic, it’s understandable that teachers are tired.  Combined with the economic downturn, school shootings, and political polarization, it’s no wonder teachers need a break this summer more than ever. 
This blog post offers recommendations for some TV shows for summer that are entertaining and escapist yet also have an educational connection, if you truly can’t stop thinking about school while on vacation (or if you are still teaching or not located in the U.S.).  There are many more shows I could recommend but the ones below either released new seasons in the past 12 months or became available to U.S. viewers within the past year.

Black woman pointing a remote control device at a TV
Source: The ESL Nexus
In alphabetical order by streaming service, below are the shows I especially enjoyed.  After describing each show, I include info about the number of seasons and episodes, what the connection is to teaching, and how to watch the show.  (This post contains some Amazon affiliate links.  That means that I make a small commission if you buy any of those products listed below but it's at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!)

Dickinson, on Apple TV+

Synopsis: A coming-of-age story about Emily Dickinson in her 20s.  It’s a comedy-drama with touches of the surreal.  Uses anachronistic music.  Snippets of her poems flash across the screen in every episode.  Includes scenes of women kissing and implied lesbian sex. Dickinson’s poetry is central to most of the episode plots. 
Seasons & episodes: 3 seasons, 10 episodes each.  Episodes are around 30 minutes long. 
Education tie-in: Poetry by Emily Dickinson
How to Watch: Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

Ted Lasso, on Apple TV+

Synopsis: A fish out of water story as well as a sports story.  A comedy about an American football coach recruited to coach an English soccer team. 
Seasons & episodes: 2 seasons.  Episodes are around 30 minutes long (1 more season produced and will probably be broadcast later in 2022).
Education tie-in: Cross-cultural differences, how to adjust to different cultures.
How to Watch: Sign up for a free 7-day trial.

Bridgerton, on Netflix

Synopsis: Historical romance set in the Regency period of England.  Focuses primarily on 2 families of the "ton" and their lives and loves.  Uses clever casting to subvert assumptions about race and classical versions of contemporary music.  Some steamy looks and behavior but only a few actual sex scenes. 
Seasons & episodes: 2 seasons, 8 episodes each (2 more seasons have been greenlit).  Episodes are about 1 hour long. 
Education tie-in: English history, status of people of color in historical periods.
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).

The Last Kingdom, on Netflix

Synopsis: Historical fiction drama about the Anglo-Saxons versus the Danes and Norse and the creation of a united England.  Includes scenes that are quite violent and/or gory but they are never gratuitous.  Based on the book series by Bernard Cornwell. 
Seasons & episodes: 5 seasons, 46 episodes (1 feature-length movie in post-production).  Episodes are approximately 1 hour long. 
Education tie-in: History of England; biographies of Alfred the Great,his son Edward and daughter Æthelflæd, and grandson Athelstan.
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).  Or buy the DVD set on Amazon (affiliate link).

Queer Eye, on Netflix

Synopsis: A reality show about being the best person you can be, with a little help from 5 gay men and non-binary people.  Each uplifting episode focuses on 1 person who gets a home, fashion, food, attitude, and grooming makeover.  (A recent episode showcased a groups of high school students.)  A reboot of the 2002 - 2007 TV show.  
Seasons & episodes: 52 episodes, plus 4 episodes shot in Japan and 2 specials.  Episodes are around 1 hour long.
Education tie-in: LGBTQ+ issues, developing empathy and a growth mindset
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).

Servant of the People, on Netflix

Synopsis: The TV comedy that propelled Volodymyr Zelensky to the presidency of Ukraine.  It’s a hilarious satire that skewers politicians and politics.  Although set in Ukraine — and it’s fascinating to see what Kyiv and other parts of the country looked like before the war — the issues it addresses and its plots are relevant to other countries as well.  Although produced some years ago, it’s only just recently been made available on Netflix again. 
Seasons & episodes: 3 seasons, 23 episodes in the first 2 season and 3 episodes in the final season.  Episodes in Seasons 1 and 2 are 23 - 35 minutes long, except for the first episode of each season which is longer, and the episodes in Season 3 range from 42 - 65 minutes long.
Education tie-in: Current events.
How to Watch: Subscribe here (free trial not offered).  Or buy the Season 1 DVD on Amazon (affiliate link).

All Creatures Great and Small, on PBS

Synopsis: Heartwarming story about a veterinarian in Yorkshire, England, in the interwar period of the 20th century.  A drama about animals and the people who care for them.  Based on the books by James Herriot.  PBS made an earlier TV show based on the books in the 1970s. 
Seasons & episodes: 2 seasons, 6 episodes each plus 2 Christmas specials.  Regular episodes are 53 minutes long, specials are longer. 
Education tie-in: The changing roles of women, socio-economic class issues, England between World War I and World War II, treatment of animals.
How to Watch: Watch both seasons for free with a PBS Passport subscription.  Or buy the Season 1 DVD on Amazon (affiliate link).  Alternatively, you can get a 7-day free trial to PBS Masterpiece on Amazon and stream both seasons (affiliate link).

Outlander, on STARZ

Synopsis: A hard to classify story of time travel and romance about a 20th century English nurse and 18th century Scottish rebel.  Based on the books by Diana Gabaldon.  Episodes in the first 4 seasons switch back and forth between the centuries but the last 2 seasons are set in 18th century pre-Revolutionary War America.
Seasons & episodes: 6 seasons, 75 episodes (1 more season has been greenlit so far). Episodes are around 60 minutes, give or take a few minutes, except for the last episode of Season 2 which is 90 minutes.
Education tie-in: The Jacobite rebellions in Scotland; the Southern Colonies in America before the Revolutionary War; the changing role of U.S. women.
How to Watch: On Amazon, stream Season 1, Episode 1 for free, then watch the rest with a 7-day free trial to STARZ through Amazon and/or pay to stream individual episodes through Amazon (affiliate link).

Quotation  by Aja Naomi King about watching TV
Source: The ESL Nexus

Happy Viewing!


Monday, April 25, 2022

Resource Round Up for Teacher Appreciation Week: Deals for Teachers

My annual blog post with discounts for Teacher Appreciation Week is a little different this year.  Instead of highlighting specific offers for teachers in various categories such as restaurants, stores, and museums, I’m doing a round up of websites that have collated deals from all over.

Find links to special deals for teachers in this resource round up of websites that are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week
Source: The ESL Nexus
The reason is that this year, Teacher Appreciation Week goes from May 2nd through May 6th and many sites that I listed in previous years have not announced their special deals for teachers yet.  However, I want to publish my blog post before the week starts, to give you time to read through and see which offers you’d like to take advantage of.   
So I’m sharing these meta lists with you, and they say they will be updated for Teacher Appreciation Week as the places announce their deals.  These lists also include year-round offers so hopefully you will find them useful longer than for just the week designated for teachers.  (Because, of course, teachers should be celebrated all year long, not just 1 week!) Unfortunately, though, it also means that you'll have to click on the links that appeal to you to see which offers are valid, although in some cases that is noted in their blurbs.  I know your time is limited so sorry about that.

Websites Listing 2022 Teacher Appreciation Week Deals

* From dontpayfull: Teacher Discounts 2022: The Complete List of Offers for Educators

* From Parade: 160+ Well-Deserved Freebies and Discounts for Teachers, Including Teacher Appreciation Week Deals Offered Now
* From dealhack: Teacher Discounts Guide: The Ultimate List of Stores
* From Edmentum: The Best Deals of Teacher Appreciation Week 2022

* And from PTOToday: Teacher Appreciation Week 2022 Resources
The first 4 websites overlap each other and include many of the same resources.  The last one is more about ways families, friends, and colleagues can honor the teachers in their lives.  I haven’t verified all the links so it’s possible that some of them won’t lead to special offers for 2022.
Considering how difficult teaching has been this year and throughout the pandemic years, I hope you find at least 1 thing on 1 of these sites that will make your week a little nicer.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!


Friday, March 4, 2022

How to Support Ukraine and the Ukrainian People

The whole world knows now that Russia invaded Ukraine. Ukrainians are fighting valiantly to resist and preserve their sovereignty.  A week after this unprovoked war began, the Ukrainian people’s resolve and resilience has motivated people everywhere to come together and support them.  Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s courage in leading his country in the face of overwhelming odds is inspirational.
In this blog post, I write about my personal connection to Ukraine and share a list of organizations you can donate to if you’d like to support the Ukrainian people.

Quotation by Ukrainian poet Lesia Ukrainka overlad on Ukrainian flag
Lesia Ukrainka (1871-1913) was a Ukrainian poet

My Ukrainian Family History

My mother's paternal grandfather came from Ukraine. The extended family lived in small villages about 2 hours north of Odesa.  My great-grandfather emigrated in 1904 to the U.S. and several of his brothers followed.  They initially settled in Ashley, North Dakota, and some of my relatives are buried in the Jewish cemetery there, which is on the list of National Register of Historic Places.
But 2 brothers remained in Ukraine.  Some of their descendants survived World War II and moved to Odesa and Moscow, and some of them then emigrated to Israel. About 7-8 years ago, my side of the family re-established contact with the relatives in Israel.  They’d compiled a family history so I now know where in Ukraine they lived. 
One year we did a big Skype chat but mostly we communicate by email.  So when the Ukraine war began, I emailed my cousin to find out how they were doing.  His wife’s father and grandfather live in Kyiv but so far, he says they are fine.
I also have connections to Ukraine on other sides of my family.  My mother's maternal grandparents came from a region of Poland that is now part of Ukraine.  On my father’s side, my grandmother emigrated in 1913 from a village in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that is now located in Ukraine.  In fact, the New York Times has posted articles from the nearest city to her hometown.

How to Help Ukraine in Its War with Russia

So I still feel a connection to Ukraine, and have ever since high school when I learned about my family roots in that country.  When I asked my cousin how we here in the U.S. could help, he recommended an organization called United Help Ukraine.  I’ve donated to them and also to World Central Kitchen, because food security is an issue close to me and I think highly of the work this organization does.  If you want to help the people of Ukraine, I encourage you to donate whatever you can to these organizations.  Thank you!

More Organizations that are Helping Ukraine

* List of 28 organizations compiled by CNN

* List of 9 organizations compiled by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine

* List of 23 organizations compiled by USAID

Ukrainian TpT Sellers

Last but not least, here are links to the TpT stores of 2 Ukrainian sellers:
* Victoria from Crazy Charizma
* Natalie from Math is Easy

Slava Ukraini - Glory to Ukraine text overlaid on Ukrainian flag
Slava Ukraini!

I truly hope this senseless war ends soon, with Ukraine victorious and remaining an independent country.


Monday, February 7, 2022

It's a February TpT Sale: What's Not to Love?!

What do Love, Presidents, and an Irish saint have in common?  They all include my educational resources in my store that'll be available at a discount during TpT’s upcoming winter sale!

Image of gnome holding valentine announcing TpT's winter sale
Find discounted resources in The ESL Nexus store on 2/8/22 & 2/9/22
It’s happening on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 8 and 9, 2022.  And not just Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day, and St. Patrick’s Day resources will be on sale – you’ll be able to get all my products on sale for 20% off. Even better, when you apply the promo code FEBSALE22 at checkout, an additional 5% discount will be taken for a total savings of 25% on all my resources.
Here are some of my resources you can use in the next few months that'll be on sale:

Valentines' Day

Covers of 2 Valentine's Day resources by The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for more info about these resources

Presidents Day

Covers of 2 Presidents Day resources by The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for more info about these resources

St. Patrick's Day

Covers of 2 St. Patrick's Day resources by The ESL Nexus
Click HERE for more info about these resources
Now that’s something to love, vote on, and dance a jig for!  Happy shopping!