Here at Alice Buffett Manget Middle School we produce a daily news show called BBTV.
However don’t call us simply a morning announcements show! Our episodes are jam packed with news packages, interviews, local and national stories, sports coverage, 3 day forcasts, interactive segments, and more!
Mr. Torpin and Mrs. Chytka are the two teachers that lead nearly 100 students in the writing and production of BBTV. With a full studio and control room we are one of the few middle schools in the nation that create a daily show at this caliber. While focusing on professionalism and stories that engage our audience we put out a product that has “pride” written all over it.
Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
I have a background in Business Education so teaching Broadcasting definetly wasn’t something I ever thought I would be doing. I got started teaching this out of kind of blind luck. I was teaching in a small rural school and decided to move to Omaha Nebraska to be closer to family which meant I needed to find a new job. During the interview at Omaha Public Schools I shared that my favorite class I have taught was Multimedia. That kind of lead to them having me check out an opening for a Broadcasting job that would use those skills daily.
How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
Our school is a Communications Magnet which means we received special funding to set up out studio. When I took over in 2007 most of the equipment was already there but they were lacking a lot of necessary upgrades like a teleprompter, a better video mixer, and a wireless microphone system. I am lucky to teach in a school that has a very supportive administration that is always eager to provide the necessary funding for our program.
Did you have equipment available?
Yes, we had the basics when I took over but over the years we have replaced a majority of it including student cameras, microphones, lighting, green screens, video mixers, teleprompters, etc.
How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
Our 7th graders take a semester class called Broadcasting 7 which teaches them the basics of filming, editing, and interviewing along with other broadcasting concepts. Then in 8th grade they can choose to take a full year of Broadcasting 8 where they produce our daily news show.
Out of all the choices our students have, broadcasting is typically the most popular. In 8th grade we will have about 100 students in our program. This is broken down into 4 sections of about 25 students each.
Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
Our students meet on an A day/ B day schedule so I see each class every other day. The students will prepare scripts and stories on the first day and then film them the second day. It’s kind of wild because we have two teachers who teach 8th grade Broadcasting so there is always one class filming and one class planning. This allows us to run a daily show.
How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
We do a daily broadcast that is uploaded to YouTube and then shared during our extended lunch hour. Our viewing size is anywere between 800 and 1000 students every day depending on which teachers end up showing the episodes (days where teachers give tests, are absent, or just teaching an extra long lesson unfortunatly will put our show on the back burners)
Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
My goal of teaching this class is to have my hands as far away from these episodes as possible. I believe that if it is a student ran news program then the stories should be student chosen. Some episodes will feature a lot of school events like sports, assemblies, or after school program but others may feature very little school news and more local or national stories. It really all depends on what the STUDENTS want their show to become. My role is simply a facilitator, however if we have special requests by teachers or administrators to cover certain stories, I’ll certainly encourage the groups to cover them.
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?
The first three quarters of the school year I have students rotate through all the jobs you would typically find in a news studio. Some of the different jobs they rotate through are: Studio Director, control room team, cameraman, main anchors, sports anchors, weather team, editors, news package team, graphics creators.
During the fourth quarter of the school year I will have them sign up for specialized positions that they will apply for and stick with for the entire quarter.
Do students audition for on-air positions?
The students do not techniqually audition for on-air positioins, but they do film what I call an “audition” at the beginning of the year. This is all the kids reading the same copy and the clip gets saved. I’ll then have them read the exact same story at the end of the first semester and again at the end of the year. This is useful for me as the teacher so I can easily see their progress and assign grades.
Do they write the content?
YES! The students come up with the ideas and write the content. I will provide editing before the show gets filmed, but it is definetly their content! The exception to this is the school announcements which I add in right before filming.
How long does the show run?
Our shows are anywhere between 6-12 minutes long depending on the length or number of packages we have.
Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by NATAS or others?
We have in the past but I’m not a hugh fan of contests. With the exception of the ASB contest ran by Dave Davis very few contests actually provide feedback and are very expensive. Instead I like to run internal contests between the 4 classes that produce our news show. It provides a little competivness between the students.
Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
We used to only store our shows in our internal servers for teachers to access but we’ve been trying to push our content out to the world in the past couple years. Once a year we will do a live show that is aired on local cable access, but for the most part we just stick with uploading to YouTube after it’s edited.
Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? Other?
We post to our YouTube page which can be found by searching “OPSBBTV”
Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
Student Cameras – Canon Vixia HF R30
Studio Cameras – Sony HDR-FX7
Tripods – Magnus VT300
Microphones – Audio Techniqa atr3350
Studio Mics – Shur Wireless Mic System
Video Mixer – Roland V4-EX
Software – iMovie
Have any quick start tips!
My advice in no particular order
- Find a format that works for you and stick to it. I think the audience appreciates consistancy and it will make knowing what needs done easier. For my episodes we always start with annoucements, then do anchor stories, then sports, followed by weather, then the daily feature.
- Don’t be afraid to kick kids off of the camera. If you see a student not taking the anchor position serior find someone who will!
- Professionalism doesn’t mean boring. Try to teach this concept
- Students will want to use YouTube videos…Don’t let them
- A student creating a video about “why not to run in the halls” is NOT news. PSA’s can be effective, but if they are done in a joking manner 99% of the time they will do more harm than good to your program.
- Let your students fail! Having a segment that is a dud will provide amazing teaching opportunities.
- Remember who’s program it is! Don’t start to write scripts for them if you expect them to do it themselves in the future.
- Attend the ASB Workshop in Springfield Missouri with Dave Davis! It will change your program and it’s dirt cheap!