DeLaura Middle School has, for the first time, incorporated a television broadcasting elective course open to a class of 23 students.
In years past, the television broadcasting class was very limited in scope and numbers of students. Now, the foundations of the course are expanding to incorporate not only a television broadcast but a full-fledged course that includes investigative reporting, research, special events coverage and more. It is an exciting year for me and the students because this fledging program is rapidly becoming a rigorous course built on both teacher and student input and creativity.
We had an opportunity to talk with Chris Zeuli, the class instructor about the program.
SVN: Chris, tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
CZ: Since I use a lot of technology in the classroom, my administration asked me if I was interested in taking up TV production as an elective class. I thought it would be a great opportunity to have fun while learning something new.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
CZ: Currently, there is no funding for this program. The television production equipment used has been collected and fit together over time.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
CZ: Yes. However, much of the equipment is old. For example, we are taping the broadcasts a day prior on a VHS tape.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
CZ: The TV broadcasting class is a one period a day class. I am primarily a 7th grade Social Studies teacher. There are currently 22 students in the class. It is a full year elective class. To keep all students doing something meaningful, I have broken them into three teams. Each week we have a new team working TV productions while the other teams are conducting investigative reporting, and reading articles about TV production.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
CZ: The class is 50 minutes long, Monday through Friday. In addition to broadcasting and conducting investigative reports, students are brainstorming ideas for quick interesting and fun video clips of activities around the school.
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
CZ: There are approximately seven students per team (3 teams). We do daily morning news broadcasts that last approximately 5 minutes. Teams not working the morning news that week are conducting investigative reports (i.e. cyberbullying, teen drug prevention, etc...). They use Flip cameras to record interviews, perform skits, and provide commentary. Microsoft Movie Maker is then used to create the video segment. Since this is the first year that I have been teaching TV broadcasting, we are brainstorming other creative ideas to insert into our morning news program.
SVN: Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
CZ: Historically and currently no. However, I intend to have them cover these special events.
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?
CZ: Students are all rotated into different positions. My goal is to have everyone competent and able to run/direct the entire production. However, some students are very reluctant to be anchors. I’m working on their confidence with that one!
SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?
CZ: No. They are primarily selected based on willingness to perform as an anchor. However, all other positions are required to be mastered.
SVN: Do they write the content?
CZ:Many times yes. However, teachers and other faculty members often provide us with information that they wish to have broadcast in a certain format.
SVN: How long does the show run?
CZ: 5 minutes
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
SVN: Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?
CZ: The programming is taped (VHS tape!) and broadcast on our school’s broadcast channel.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
CZ: I do not have an equipment list to brag about yet but am willing to share anything new that I can acquire this year. I’m working on that!
SVN: Have any quick start tips!
CZ: Break up students into teams. Give them something meaningful to do. Rotate them out to keep the variety flowing. Empower the students to be responsible and creative in a preset framework. Have fun!