How to Group Students - Crews and Jobs

Pending number of students and equipment available, many teachers seem to struggle with how to group the students so they all have a job to do.

What jobs should they have? How should they rotate or be assigned when doing the announcements? What about their video projects? This is another topic I get asked a lot about. I Misty1have actually done this several ways, but I have a list of ideas that could help you.

For the News Show or Announcements, take the equipment, potential jobs and number of students into consideration. Spread sheets and charts can be helpful tools to to use when tracking student rotations. It is good to require every student to learn each job but in some cases you may want to have students earn their positions. Start out by having training and practice time that can double as tryouts and auditions. Then place the students in the positions they are strongest. Eventually, those students can be the official trainers of their job and help other students who need to work their way up.

Type of Announcement Show jobs you can have are: (I have divided them into 4 groups)

(THE LEADERS)
Producer - Organizes the crew, assigns jobs, over-sees whole production, keeps everyone on task..
Director - Calls the camera shots to the Technical Director, gives direction to Floor Director.
Stage Manager (Floor Director) - Maintains order in the studio, cues the talent.

(IN THE CONTROL ROOM)
Technical Director - Operates the video switcher. Listens to the Director.
Audio Engineer - Operates the audio mixer. Balances all audio levels as they happen.
Computer Graphics - Designs and displays the graphics for the show.
Video Playback - Plays the Pledge, Show Open and any other special videos in the show.
Digital Recorder - Records the show.
Teleprompter Operator - Operates the teleprompter during the show.

(TALENT)
Misty3Anchors - write the script for the next day and give it to the teleprompter operator. (It has to be approved by me first.)
Weather Person - Looks up current and future weather conditions, writes script, gets appropriate graphics to the CG operator.
Sportscaster - looks up school sports news, game times, game results and writes their script.

(ASSISTANTS - if needed to give more students a job)
Production Assistant - Cleans up the set, passes out scripts, throws away old scripts - help where needed.
Grip - Help move lights or set pieces as needed.
Audio 2 - Helps the audio engineer with mics / testing sound, etc.
Utility - Helps camera people with camera cables if they have moves during the show.

I’ve used a variety of graphic organizers to help track job assignments for our news show. Starting with spread sheets that have jobs listed down one side, dates across the top and students sign up in the blanks. I have assigned jobs to students and I have had the Student Producers place students using a chart and magnets. I’ve had them rotate both weekly and daily. There’s no one way to do this. It all depends on what works in your specific environment and causes you less pain..

When it comes to Class Projects, after 7 years, I find it best to divide students into groups according to the number of cameras available. They stay with this crew during both the Pre-Production and Production Phase. (see article on The Production Process for specific info on these phases of production) Then for Post Production I divide again, according to how many editors (computers) I have. When they edit, I encourage them to edit using their own style, separating themselves from their crew and giving it their own flare to the project. The fewer students you have editing together the better but, I realize this is not always under your control.  If you have 2 or more students working together for Post Production, try to keep all of them involved. Don’t let one student do all the editing. The others will never learn. Have them agree on a fair rotation and hold them to it. Suggest ways the others can help to stay active and involved with the edit. They must sit together, watch as the edit takes place, make suggestions or help the editor.

I let the class participate with the selection of the crew. This has worked for me in both the middle school and high school setting. First, I give the students a quick overview of the type of project they will have. Second, I go through the crew positions and responsibilities as they relate to that specific project. Then with the whole class, we start out by selecting our crew Producers and Directors. If I have 4 cameras, I can have up to 4 crews but all necessary positions must be filled. This is where you have to be flexible and know your students. The Producers and the Directors (together) get to select their crew.
 
Here are the types of crew positions I have used.

Misty2Director - The creative leader, the one with the vision. Calls Action / Cut and directs the actors.
Producer - Keeps the crew on task, helps make decisions, solves problems.
Actors - Responsible for wardrobe, memorizing lines and must have good attendance.
Camera People - At least 2 - to help set up shots, monitor lighting and sound.
Script Supervisor - Keeps track of the script, the shots, continuity and notes for Post.
Production Designer - The LOOK of the shots / set / props, etc.
Production Assistant - Helps the crew anyway needed or fills in for someone when they are absent. They can also help with lighting or even hold a slate board with the take numbers.

Keep in mind, all of these crew positions are flexible and must be altered to fit your needs. Even in real life video production, the types of crew positions needed for a project depend on so many different factors. Projects with a big budget have more crew members and their job description is very specific. If you have a really large class, think of it like a big budget film and assign very specific jobs to each student. All students must have a job to preserve your sanity, trust me! If you have a small class or small crews, then it is more like breaking into Broadcast News or Reality TV. Each student will have the opportunity to be the camera person, director or talent. But, most  important of all...is what works with your school, your students and your equipment.


Misty_CUMisty Gentle started with long format television programs for Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando, Florida. She worked her way up from a Production Assistant to Producer. Along the way, she worked in a variety of positions from pre-production through post. After that, she worked on shows for the Fox Health Network, Animal Planet, ABC, Disney, The Learning Channel, Discovery Channel and More. Misty has been a writer / director / producer for on-air promotions and corporate productions as well as 2nd assistant stage manager, Script Supervisor, Segment Producer, Associate Producer, and Post Production Producer. In the summer of 2008, she was Associate Producer for Nickelodeon's "My Family's Got GUTS". These positions have given her a broad understanding of production from show concept and development through post and delivery.

She began teaching in 2004 with a full television production program at the middle school level. After 5 years, Ms. Gentle moved up to high school where she currently teaches digital video production to 9th through 12th graders.

She holds a BA degree in Communications - Television and Radio Production and is certified as 'Technical Vocational Education - Television Production'.