Welcome to The Green Room: Where Stars Are Born. In the Green Room the daily morning and afternoon broadcast is more that a daily news show.
It has star power! The students at St. James Episcopal Day school love the daily broadcast that is shown on their IWB through an in school cable system. Move over PBS because The Green Room produces shows that not only are educational but are exciting to watch. It’s ratings are very high among students and teachers! The broadcasts for the week are themed to enhance a grade levels project-based learning or a school wide initiative like a community service project, nutrition unit from the cafeteria, or safety unit. Special feature movies are also produced in The Green Room such as the annual Spanish movies, special events and professional development videos. The broadcast studio not only increases a school wide community approach to learning but it exemplifies 21st century skills of communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking. The power of the media can be felt throughout the school!
SVN: Tell us, Alison, about your background and ground and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production at St. James Episcopal Day ?
AK: 4 years ago I was teaching 2nd grade and the opportunity to run the school broadcast came open. I took a giant leap out of the classroom into a brand new position that I did not know anything about. My experience was with using technology including video in the classroom setting with a basic camera. The former school broadcast technician trained me on our basic equipment at the time. Since then I have learned mostly by myself and researching online and attending technology conferences like ISTE. I am a huge follower of School Video News and other educational video websites. I am constantly looking for new and interesting ways to educate students with technology.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
AK: Our school is a private school that did a technology push about 7 years ago. We added the broadcast studio during a huge fundraiser. We now fund it with a yearly budget established by our school board. No grants have been obtained.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
AK: I took over the broadcast when all of the equipment was starting to need replacement. Every year we have upgraded a few pieces of equipment. I have switched from a PC based system to an Apple system in the past few years.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
AK: With the help of the computer lab teacher the video production can be taught during computer class once a week for 45 min. with about 32 5th grader students divided in two classes. We collaborate on different areas of the process for the broadcast. The computer lab class gives me access to the students to video projects for the broadcast. The 5th graders that are the hosts and crew are also pulled from recess and occasionally PE to complete the broadcasts for the week. Everyone 5th grader gets a chance to host the broadcast at least 2 times for one week which is 8 shows. I have a schedule of the 2 hosts and 2 crew for the week.
Every grade level has a chance during the year to be highlighted. I have a schedule of the units of study they are doing monthly and incorporate the weekly broadcasts into themes that highlight their units. The hosts and crew will go to their classes to film a segment or the students in a particular class will be scheduled to come to The Green Room at recess to film with me their project.
All shows are pre-recorded. Nothing is done live. I am very protective of how the students feel about themselves on TV. I want to show them at their best. Live TV sometimes embarrasses the students if they mess up. Having control of the content right now is the best for me. I do plan to try a live show but the parameters have not been set yet.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions? How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
AK: On Monday morning the 5th graders have computer class for 45 min. in 2 groups. I pull my 2 hosts for the week and crew during that time while the rest go to the computer lab to learn more about photo editing, moviemaking software, flip cameras, animation, etc. During the 45 min session we tape the pledge, prayer, lunch and commercials that I have already prewritten for about 4 shows. The students are given their theme and costumes and help in writing the scripts and ideas for 4 more shows. We are very creative with our themes but every show has a learning objective that I make sure is applied. The crew return for the week during recess after lunch and PE for the week until all the shows are pre-recorded. I edit all shows to be put on the air right now. I include video from the students and teachers when they apply to the academic theme of the week.
SVN: How many kids does the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
The 2 hosts for the week do the introduction and closing of the broadcast. Many students and events are included into the show depending on the academic unit.
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?
AK: All fifth grades get to do all positions through the year. There is a rotation cycle. The rest of the school participates in groups or by classes or volunteer. Even teachers come on the show and highlight academic areas. I also work with the Spanish teacher to produces educational videos in Spanish as teaching tools. She and I also work with the 5th graders making a Spanish video as movie making project in which they do the entire process of making a movie speaking in Spanish. The 5th grades are given jobs in all areas of preproduction to production. From script and costumes to sound and backgrounds the students make decisions. The final project is always edited by me with approval of all content by the Spanish teacher.
SVN: Do they write the content?
AL: All shows are scripted by me but with input from teachers and students. I work hard to put academic and interesting content that has meaning for the teachers and students. The content for the week relates to a specific topic with objectives. I have learned that young children need to hear things repeated and they also like to see the difference between wrong and right. I love to put content that has a bad vs good character that learns a lesson. Also, I have learned to use the “to be continued” approach to get the students to come back and watch the next show.
SVN: How long does the show run?
AK: Anywhere between 3 and 6 minutes on Tues, Wed. and Thurs. morning and about 3-4 min. every afternoon.
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills, Student Television Network or SchoolTube TV?
AK: No but I should. Getting permissions for going public is a lot of extra work.
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
AK: No, every video is kept on our school website. They are password protected.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
KB: I am using a 2 Canon Vixia HD mini DV cam. We have a data switch (camera/computer), 27 in iMac, Bointx TV Live software, Final Cut Express, Flip cameras, XLR boom mic, 2 lapel mics, pc teleprompter, Matrox MX80, professional hand held mic. Green screens, 2 Impact lights kits, 2 professional led lights.
SVN: Have any quick start tips?
AK: Use any video camera and make a movie.
Alison Keple is a former kindergarten, first and second grade teacher that has enjoyed the use of technology integration into the curriculum. This is her 4th year working with the entire school while producing a daily 5 minute morning and a 5 min. afternoon broadcast at our school.
She is a member of ISTE and LACUE. LACUE State Elementary Teacher of the Year 2009.Presenter at ISTE, Southwestern Association of Episcopal School, and the Foreign Language Teachers Association in Louisianae
My Broadcast Studio Webpage
Daily Broadcast Show Called Bayou St. James
Special Events Videos