ABE-TV starts the day out right for the 650 students at Amy Beverland Elementary in Indianapolis, Indiana!
Amy Beverland is a magnet school with a focus on Communications.
Sixth graders run the show, but every grade gets involved by leading the pledge, sending in jokes and creating video commercials and features for the show.
SVN: Jamie Strebing, Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
JS: I am the Information Specialist at Amy Beverland, which means I am in charge of the Media Center and all the technology for our school. I hold an elementary education degree with a computer endorsement along with a Master’s in Educational Technology. For many years, I had done simple video announcements once or twice a month, but when we became a magnet school for communications in fall of 2010, we got a new studio and ramped up to an every day show with a student crew. My video skills are mostly self-taught and I discover new things all the time!
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
JS: Our school district provided funding for the basic studio equipment (Tricaster production unit, cameras, mics and wiring). Our parent organization has been very supportive of our studio and purchased a green screen, lights and smaller supplies we need. Soon after we began production, our district received a Federal Magnet Schools grant that will provide additional funding for the future.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
JS: The equipment from our original studio (a storage room off the media center) was over ten years old and very dated. We use a few of the older cameras for taping events outside of the studio and one of the mics is in our new studio.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
JS: We don’t have a class, so my kids get on the job training! I run 5 daily crews of 7 kids on each crew. I switch out the anchors at semester, so I have 40+ kids on the crew throughout the year. We also have 5 pledge leaders each morning, so by the end of the year, our whole school should get a chance to appear on ABE TV! In May, we identify some strong 5th graders and train them for the last month of school. This allows us to hit the ground running at the beginning of the school year.
We recently started an after-school video club for 4th & 5th graders. They are learning the basics of video and creating features for ABE TV and for YouTube.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
JS: We meet in the morning at 7:40 and ABE TV goes on the air at 8:00. We try to get through 2 good rehearsals and go!
The ABE Video Club has 20 students each semester and they meet for 45 minutes after school, one day a week. They learn the basics of creating videos and make features and commercials for school events.
SVN: How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
JS: I have 35 kids on 5 daily crews. We want try to accommodate every 6th grader who fills out an application. We have fun specials days (spirit days, Talk like a Pirate Day etc.).
SVN: Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
JS: We try to feature stories that the students are interested in. When the high school that many of our kids will attend went to the state finals in football, we played some video of it on our show. We also highlight events happening in our school. Recently, our school district had a vote to change the school calendar and a group of 3rd graders created a video debate to show both sides of the issue.
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?
JS: Each day, we have 2 anchors, a camera person, sound, teleprompter and two tricaster engineers who run our broadcast computer. Our Music teacher, Mary Buckalew also helps in the studio each morning and directs if I am absent. Every child fills out an application for their position and the anchors audition. The crew positions can switch around, if needed, or we can call in a sub from a different crew if a child with a key role is absent.
SVN: Do students audition for on-air positions?
JS: Yes! The anchors have to audition and are rated on a rubric I created. I try to create dynamic teams that play well off of each other.
SVN: Do they write the content?
JS: I have 6th graders assigned to write each day’s script. We meet after school one day a week and they find fun facts, this day in history events and other tidbits for the show. Students from all grades turn in jokes for our joke of the day, and I gather announcements and information about school events that need to be included in the scripts.
SVN: How long does the show run?
JS: We aim for 3-5 minutes on most days.
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by StudicaSkills and SchoolTube TV?
JS: Since we are a relatively young program, I have not entered any contests, but am looking toward that for the future.
SVN: 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?
JS: We post the show on YouTube each day and then embed that video in our school website.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
3 lights with stands and shadow box
Green screen (bought in a studio kit with the lights)
6 channel sound mixer
computer and 27” TV monitor (teleprompter)
2 JVC Everio cameras
switched “Recording On-Air” light
SVN: Have any quick start tips?
1. Start with the equipment and expertise you have and grow as you go. Whenever I discover a new feature, I incorporate it into the show.
2. Be organized! I always have scripts written a week ahead and then each day I take a few minutes to finalize the script and print directions for my crew. I also check to be sure that any graphics or video for the next show are loaded and ready. It’s nice walking in every morning knowing we are ready to go on air.
3. Let the kids train each other. When we switch crew positions, I provide a week or two of overlap and have the new crew train with experienced members. This frees me up to direct the show and the kids do a wonderful job of teaching each other.