Garner Fine Arts Academy

We are the Garner Fine Arts Academy in Grand Prairie, TX. Although we are part of the public school system of GPISD, we are a school of choice.

That means that our neighborhood kids come here as well as all the transfer students in and out of the district that we have room for. You can CHOOSE to come to GFAA! Since weGFAA01 are a Fine Arts Academy, we offer extraordinary Music, Art, Dance, Theatre and Strings classes to all students. We also take care of our bodies through daily PE or Outdoor Learning classes. We infuse arts and project based learning into our core classes and have a variety of after-school clubs to be a part of. Video Crew is one of those. There are many opportunities for involvement in Video Crew. We produce the daily news program: GFAA News, enter contests and create special project videos, and have an Animation Club within the Video Crew!

We are an elementary school with rigorous academics, an exemplary fine arts program, building a lifetime of wellness while nurturing the gifts and talents of all.

Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?

I taught 3rd grade for a long time and used technology and new ideas in my classroom as much as possible. Although I had never made a video before, my principal asked me to learn and become the Video Production teacher for the next school year, so I did! I took a photography class at the local university and used the internet to teach myself how to use iMovie. My mentor, Kyle Damon has also helped me through the process of video production. I learn new things every day and that's what keeps it exciting!

How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?

The district purchased 2 Macs, 3 camcorders, 2 bloggies, 2 iPads, a green screen and a lighting kit to start the program. Other than that we don't get any financial support from the district. Anything we need is purchased from the sale of the DVDs we make of school programs and shows.

Did you have equipment available?

PTA bought us another Mac, so now we have 3, and we raised enough money last year to purchase a DSLR camera and a few other things, but other than that, we are still operating with our original equipment listed above.

GFAA02How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?

Video Crew at GFAA is an extra-curricular club. 4th and 5th grade Students come before school to record the announcements and after school to edit them for the next day. Some students come at their recess time to work on contest and other special projects. We also have an Animation Club that was born from the Video Crew. I had a few boys interested in learning animation, so they started coming on additional days to work with DAZ studio and learn how to animate characters. Now they are their own club that produces animated videos for a variety of projects. In addition, I go into K-5 classrooms to help teachers use video production in their lessons and for projects.

Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?GFAA03

No classes. Video Crew consists of a recording team, an editing team, a special projects team and an Animation Club. The recording team comes in the morning to record the announcements for the next day. Each day I have 2 anchors, a weather person, a camera person and a director. In the afternoons I have 2 editors each day to put the clips together and produce the announcements for the following day. On Thursdays and Fridays, the Animation Club of 4 students meets to work on their projects after school. Every day I have 2-4 students come during their recess time to work on special projects. They are the Special Projects Team. Altogether I have 35 students in Video Crew. Recording Team works solely on daily announcements. Editing team works on announcements and Teacher of the Week videos and any other videos that they have time to help edit. Special Projects team produces entire videos themselves (planning, storyboarding, recording and editing) for the campus and for contest. They have done videos teaching students how to properly recycle at lunch, hallway procedures, and celebrating students for accomplishments around the campus as well as for contests such as the Grand Prairie Get Fit contest (Heart Health awareness) and the White House Video Contest (technology in schools). We haven't won anything yet, but they're hopeful!

How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?

5 record, 2 edit. No weekly broadcast. Special events are covered by Special Projects Team (4 students) and we have a weekly Teacher of the Week video that is an entirely separate project for the editors.

GFAA04Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?

Yes, we have monthly PTA meetings and student performances that we video using 5 cameras and then edit in Final Cut for a professional looking video to sell to the parents.

What jobs do the kids do? Do the kids rotate through on-air talent and crew positions or are they “hired” for a specific task?

They are hired for specific tasks, but mid-year, they are given the option to try a new position if they want to switch it up. We have directors, camera people, anchors, weather people, special projects team, editors, and animators.

Do students audition for on-air positions?

Yes. At the end of the year, I put out applications for the next year's positions. Students have to get parent signatures, teacher recommendations and interview with me.

Do they write the content?GFAA05

Yes. Announcements are not exactly scripted, so students get to add in their own character. Special Projects and Animators write their own story boards and develop their own videos from scratch. The goal is for everything to be student created.

How long does the show run?

Each day announcements are shown at lunch and depending on how much content there is for that day it can be anywhere from 2-7 minutes each day.

Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?

Not yet, but I'll be looking those up as soon as I finish this interview!

Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?

No. The announcements are .mov files that we play over a projector in the cafeteria at lunch. Occasionally I will save an episode if it's an especially good one or if a parent asks to see their child's performance and I put it on YouTube. Our channel is GFAAMedia

Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?

YouTube GFAAMedia

GFAA06Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
2-Sony Bloggie MHS-TS55
3-iPads
3- Cannon Vixia HFR21
1- Cannon EOS Rebel T3i
3- Mac OSX 10.7.5
3- Sony Wireless (external) microphones ECM-AW3
5- Tripods
The programs we use the most are:
iMovie '11 v 9.0.8 (for announcements)
Final Cut Pro v 10.0.9 (to edit multi-angle shows)GFAA07
Splice (on the iPads)
DAZ Studio 4.6 (for Animation)

Have any quick start tips! 
Must have- Whatever camera you can afford, tripod, and external mic, computer for editing and you're set! I would say the most important piece of equipment, next to the camera, is probably the external mics. They make a world of difference. You can slowly build up your studio with the other things. If you can afford it, get a good quality camera and a Mac for editing in iMovie.
Then, dive right in!!! You'll learn along the way and make it work for you and your kids and your school.