When SVN was at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference, we had the opportunity to run into one of our long-time subscribers, Jim Meta.
As always, Jim's upbeat enthusiasm for his students and the quality of work they produce got us to squeek the Olentangy Hyatts profile in under the wire. Here's what we found out about their program.
SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
JM: I am on my 17th year as a teacher. I taught 10 years as a 3rd grade teacher, and now I am in my 7th year as the Technology Teacher at Hyatts Middle School. My Undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education from the University of Dayton, I have a Masters degree in Educational Technology from Ashland University and I earned my technology endorsement from Notre Dame College in Cleveland, Ohio. When I taught 3rd grade, I had my 3rd grade students using video cameras and iMovie so when the job as the Tech Teacher opened it was the right spot for me. So now I teach 6-8th grade technology classes including Media Production/Eagle News elective to the 8th grade.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
JM: When we opened Hyatts Middle School, there was initial funding for the program. So I purchased about 9 video camera using digital video tape, 9 digital cameras, some microphones, and a lab of Mac Minis and a couple of iMacs.
I get some funding through the school district, but I fundraise money through conducting a film festival for the students to participate. This event, on it’s 5th year, brings in about $2500 dollars in which I use some of the money to fund additional equipment including new lighting, new cameras, replacements, etc. Check out the Hyatts Film Festival at hyattsfilmfestival.weebly.com
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
JM: When Hyatts opened I was able to purchase with that initial budget basic studio equipment, an analog mixer, wires, cameras, the basics for a program that I didn’t know how to run. We did borrow from some of the other middle schools if we needed any odds and ends.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
JM: This year, about 189 students in the 8th grade take Eagle News. These students are spread out throughout the year, as the class is broken into 6 week intervals. 153 of these students can take it a second time for more advanced projects. Right now I have about 60 students who have decided to take Eagle News for the rest of the school year. These students take more advanced projects as the year moves forward, so at times I have students at three different levels in class.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
JM: Every day I have two sections of Eagle News. Each class is 45 minutes long. My morning class has 42 kids and my afternoon class has 62 kids. I know, it sounds like a lot, but these students come in ready to work, I teach a mini-lesson and then they are off to videotape, edit, interview, etc. to complete their projects.
The projects they work on are PSAs, interviews, classroom updates, music videos, the crews cover sporting events, in-depth reports about miscellaneous topics, Movie/App/TV Show/book reviews, 6-word stories, etc.
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
JM: We need 18 students to do the morning broadcasts. 4 students to work the mixer, computer, sound boards and live shot cameras. 8 students to be the “talent.” These students are our head anchors, and 6 live shot reporters, covering sports, weather and lunch. Then we need 2 student on cords, and 4 students on the teleprompter, live shot cameras and iPads(holds for the live shot reporters). We don’t have weekly broadcasts, but that is something that will happen next year if the program continues to succeed.
SVN: Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
JM: We cover Hyatts sports events and assemblies, musical performances if students are available. As students work in Eagle News longer, they are required to cover live events for Hyatts. We don’t cover board meetings.
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?
JM: This is the hardest part of Eagle News. Because of the number of students taking the courses, this becomes difficult. I do have students who like to be on-air and I have students who like to work behind the scenes. What happens is I put the scheduling of the morning jobs in the hands of the students. For example, my class of 62, I have split them into 3 groups of approximately 20 kids, from the group of 20, they decides who does what. The students organize who does what, with a little guidance from me, and they start practicing their lines for the broadcast.
SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?
JM: No, but they decide whether of not they want to be on-air talent. So the more they work on-air, the more comfortable they feel. Some students do want to work on both sides of the camera, but for the most part, if they like it, then they will continue to work on air!
SVN: Do they write the content? They do not write the content of the broadcasts at the beginning of the class, but as the students stay in Eagle News, they do write all the content except for news that the teachers want reported on the news.
SVN: How long does the show run? On a regular day, a broadcast is 13-15 minutes long. On a 2 hour delay schedule, we run a 5-6 minute broadcast.
Do you submit programming to independent contest?
JM: We did a couple things that we entered in Schooltube, but for the most part we don’t enter contests.
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
JM: We shoot our broadcast live every morning, so the entire school is watching then I post it on www.useducationtv.com where we have a site set up through their platform.
SVN: Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?
JM: I also have the students upload their work on Schooltube.com and then they have to embed their work on their own blog site. We just started doing this in January of 2014. You can read their blogs and feel free to comment on their work at ohmseaglenews.weebly.com. Their blogs are linked under UA1 and UA2 Blogs at the top of the main page.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
JM: I don’t have a quick list but here is what I can think of now….
20 Canon Vixia RF400s-A great camera with microphone input. I advise all programs to get Canon video cameras because of the microphone input.
1 Canon Vixia RF G20-A professional camera that is used by my more experienced students.
7 iPads-We use different apps to do different kinds of projects and take pictures and videos.
10 digital cameras-Don’t use these much because of iPads and the RF400s
10 flip cameras-Don’t use these much anymore
2 Audio-techina lapel microphones for live broadcast
15 computer USB-microphones
3 Macbook pros-We use these for editing and to produce our broadcast.
28 Mac Minis-editing
SVN: Have any quick start tips!
JM: Make sure that you have a way to get your program online and accessible to all the classrooms via web stream or dedicated channel. Having an authentic/global audience really brings out the best in their work. Have your administration behind your program (as I do)!