The digital media program at Wasilla High School, a comprehensive high school of 1000 students, started last year (2015-2016).
It began with the first year focus of building a program that teaches basic audio/video production skills. From there the program has exploded into a multi-media school wide service, livestreaming school events, producing student government videos, creating homecoming, prom, and senior skip day movies, and more. The growth of the program’s potential and popularity made it more than evident that a daily news program was necessary to expand the digital experience and service to the school. With that, the Warrior Daily News began live-streaming daily each morning.
Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
My name is John Notestine and I have been teaching English for 10 years. I have experience working in information technology and own a successful sound and lighting company.
I had the idea of starting a digital media program at our school after seeing the success of another program in our district and recognizing the need for something similar at Wasilla. I found starting the program was remarkably easy. I was lucky to have superiors that shared and supported my vision. Having the support of my principal and our CTE Director was also crucial for securing the initial funding, placing equipment orders, and general class support.
How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
Initial funding was provided by our district CTE department. We are looking at unique ways for continued funding including livestream donations and paid media advertising packages. Our packages will include business promotion on our live events, daily broadcasts, and our student produced newspaper.
Did you have equipment available?
Very little equipment was available before the initial purchase.
How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
There are currently 47 students in the digital media program, enrolled in Digital Media I and Advanced Digital Media. Our school announcements are broadcasted live. The Daily News solicits students from throughout the school, not just Digital Media students although initially the Daily News staff are Digital Media students. The News collaborates with the school’s print journalism students who write the ledes for each announcement, and help produce special edition video segments.
Digital Media is designed as a 4 year course of study in our district. Students begin with an Introduction to Careers in Communication/Digital Communications class and progress to Fundamentals of Audio/Video Tech, Intermediate Audio Video Tech, and finish with Advanced Audio Video Tech. Colony High also supports a Digital Media course and Wasilla High collaborates and shares with this rival program constantly.
Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
The Mat- Su School district runs on a 7 period day with a block schedule. Two days a week bookcase the week with 47 minute classes and two longer days are 68 minutes long.
Students, using Google Classroom in a pre-loaded flip model, work on a variety of projects dealing with audio, video, and broadcast production/distribution. They are required to complete a variety of skilled tasks each semester at their own pace and increase with difficulty. Students are also required to sign up and work up to two outside of school events livestreaming, filming, or sports casting. Colony High and the Wasilla program share Classroom assignments and believe that this type of digital collaboration is key to the success of any digital media program. I’d be happy to share my Google Classroom with fellow media teachers –
How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
Each morning by 7 a.m. the video studio fills with 5-6 students before the 7:45 a.m. live broadcast. Students filter in and manage one of the three cameras we have, the tricaster, the teleprompter, the audio mixer, and the rundown schedule of written and updated ledes. The broadcast runs five days a week and lasts anywhere from 3- 5 minutes in length. Teachers are requested to show it on their promethean through a shared link on the school’s homepage.
Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
Digital media students livestream many school events complete with multiple cameras and student broadcasters. We have also livestreamed regional tournaments throughout the district. The community has also reached out for our skills and students have worked and produced video or livestream for the local rock gym, public relation videos for the school, and the Alaska State Student Government Association.
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?
Students volunteer to work as on-air anchors, teleprompter operators, technical directors, or show producers.
Do students audition for on-air positions?
It is currently done on a volunteer basis.
Do they write the content?
The Wasilla High journalism program writes the content. Announcements are gathered from school staff members using a Google form. Students use rundowncreator.com to create the show and produce the content for the online based teleprompter.
How long is the show?
The daily show is 3-5 minutes in length.
Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?
Not yet, but we do have a couple local Alaskan contests we participate in - ASTE (Alaska Society for Technology in Education) and Alaska Skills USA.
Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?
Our livestream events and daily announcements are currently on Livestream:
www.livestream.com/matsutv is a page we created for multiple schools in our district to post content.
We periodically post student produced content on our school Youtube page:
Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
Tricaster 460 Standard Edition
Sony PXW-X160 Cameras
Canon 70D Camera
Sony A6000 mirroless (for Ronin use)
Mackie 12-2 VLZ4 Mixer
Behringer XR18 Mixer
MXL BCD-1 Microphones
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
Marshall field monitors
GoPro Hero 4s
AJAX HDMI to SDI converters
Manfrotto tripods with fluid heads
Clearcom base station and headsets
Comstar wireless station and headsets
Sennheiser EW G3 mics
Rode Reporter mic
Teradek Vidiu Encoder
Teradek Bolt Wireless
DJI Phantom 3
DJI Ronin M
Multiple green screens (portable and fixed)
Ikan 5 piece Chroma light set
Zoom H4N Recorders
Seagate external hard drives
27” iMac editing computers
Adobe Premiere Pro
Homemade 17” Teleprompter
Have any quick start tips!
Organization is key to maintaining equipment. Make sure everything is labeled and has a proper spot.
Also, learn how to say no. Everyone will want to utilize your students and program. Before committing to a new project I always consider if it is going to enhance student learning.