Tell us, Kathi, about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production at Maples Elementary?
KB: The program at Maples School is still in its infancy stage. This is the third year Maples Television Network has been broadcasting and my first year as the teacher-in-charge.
Personally, the only video production background I have is from high school in the early ‘80’s. Obviously technology has changed so much since then that I can’t even count that.
I enjoy trying new things, experimenting with technology, and especially motivating kids.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
KB: The Maples Television Network is made possible through a program called IGNITE. This money is to be used at the discretion of each individual school and we have chosen it to sponsor the news team. Our broadcast does not require a huge amount of extra funding as all of the schools in Dearborn Public School are equipped with the video cart through Sound Design Engineering.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
KB: I had to replace our analog video recorder with a digital recorder that we had obtained via some technology grant money. Sound Design Engineering gave me a complimentary copy of the Visual Communicator software that I will try to learn how to use. I have had so much support from them as well as from our own district’s technology team. One man actually built me a new computer-I just hope I will be able to learn all this new stuff. By all means, I am NO computer whiz!
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
KB: This is not a class. It is a before-school program. At the beginning of the school year, I held auditions for any and all 5th grade students who wanted to be on the news. Basically, any student who wanted to be on the team and had the nerve to audition was granted a place on the news team. Because I have lost some students, I am currently rounding up some more students to be on the team.
I rotate the 20-30 kids. There are three spots every morning for the live news broadcast. There are two students on camera and one behind the scenes running the teleprompter and camera/computer switch.
The fifth graders are responsible to know when their news days are and what their job is on that day. They are to be in the news room at 8:15 for rehearsal. We air at 8:43 and they are in their respective classrooms by 8:50.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions? How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
KB: Our live broadcast includes daily announcements, weather, birthdays, lunch menu, a joke of the day, and some words of wisdom. It is a riveting 3-6 minute show that airs daily at 8:43. On Mondays, Maples School recites the Pledge of Allegiance together via the broadcast. Every Friday we have the “Friday Feature”. This is where our students have a chance to showcase the many ways they shine.
Generally, I run the camera and type up the script, but the kids do the rest. They turn the microphones on, start the video recorder, runt the camera/computer switch, and work the teleprompter.
SVN: How many kids do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
KB: Usually there are two kids on camera and one running the teleprompter and camera/computer switch. Once in a wile, a kid will forget and there will only be one student on camera. I have been known to run out on to the playground grabbing kids at the last minute before the bell rings.
SVN: 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?
KB: I am the physical education teacher so I see all the students twice a week. Outside my office, there is a calendar posted with the scheduled students. The news team has the responsibility to check this often. Depending on where their name is, they know what their job is on their news day (camera or behind-the-scenes). There is always one student behind the scenes running the teleprompter (using PowerPoint) and camera/computer switch.
SVN: Do the students audition for on-air positions?
KB: Yes! I encourage personality, but I let anyone on the news team who had the nerve to audition.
SVN: Do they write the content?
KB: Because I have the typing skills, I write the script, but the students are encouraged to provide input. I want it to sound like it is them talking. They help me find the weather on-line. They also find the lunch menu and the birthdays that are being celebrated. They come up with the corny jokes and the wisdom-filled thoughts for the day.
SVN: How long does the show run?
KB: Anywhere between 3 and 6 minutes
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills, Student Television Network or SchoolTube TV?
KB: I have not had the chance yet but I intend to do so. I would like to submit some of our newscasts in a contest that is being sponsored by Sound Design Engineering.
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
KB: Dearborn Public Schools has its own version of UTube. It is called DTube. I have just learned how to get the broadcasts downloaded to it. I am still in the early stages of this and learning constantly.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
KB: I am using a Canon ZR200 mini cam. We have a data switch (camera/computer), a Shure SCM 268 microphone mixer, the Mac for PowerPoint teleprompt and the QuickTime Broadcaster.
SVN: Have any quick start tips?
KB: Don’t be afraid to ask for help!