At River Trail School, we pride ourselves with integrating new, fun, and interesting content to the students; and that is exactly what Channel 56 is about.
Channel 56 is a student run program for seventh and eighth graders at River Trail School with our teacher as the facilitator. Ms. Diana, the technology teacher at River Trail School, provides a way to reach out to get equipment and software for the students to use. She also helps to communicate with Teradek, the live streaming company we use. However, it is the students who run the camera, commercials, and activities. The students are also responsible for training the next generation of Channel 56 workers.
Teradek helps us show the daily program to all the classrooms as well as connect our commercials and give content to YouTube. Teachers use their computers connected to their smart boards to watch the stream each morning with their students.
The current 8th graders also helped with product development for Teradek.
Teradek’s iOS Developer sent us a beta version through a service called TestNav. When using the app everyday, the students helped them develop, debug, and test it until Teradek was ready to make the app public. It allowed us to run a smooth production with very little errors. The production of our newscast would not be possible without them.
Our school runs on a four quarter system. For two quarters at a time, the middle school students participate in electives of their choice. The students who choose the tech class participate in the Channel 56 Program. We use hands-on team building skills, problem solving, and diﬀerent ways to use technology. Ms. Diana helps to teach and problem solve with the students. She also assists the school with getting much needed equipment and software to run the program. She is the main reason Channel 56 exists, and without her, we would not be able to function.
We at Channel 56 always work to add new things to the broadcast, like the Pledge of Allegiance and promotional commercials for the fundraisers at our school, like popcorn, hotdogs, and pizza. For instance, we pre-record The Pledge of Allegiance with students from Kindergarten through fifth grade. Students set up a green screen and record two to three classes a day until they have all been completed. Then we work to edit and replace the green screen with an American flag. The students then transmit the videos from computers to the iPad, we use for the broadcast. The current camera worker switches between all of the pledges throughout the course of the year. The same process is adopted for the other commercials like pizza, popcorn, and yearbook. We start by recording the anchors in front of a green screen. Then we edit the correct background in, play music, and put it on the iPad for the students to see.
Everyone who is a part of broadcast deserves some recognition for the amazing work they put in to make Channel 56 possible. First, Ms. Diana, River Trail School’s technology teacher. Second, the 2016 eighth graders, who started the program. They first had the idea to try Channel 56. Each class adds their personal touch to the program and new ideas.
Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching TV/Video production?
I have always had a passion for technology and teaching. I worked for a major technology company for 5 years. However, I missed the interaction with students, and the personal satisfaction I received from the profession. I decided to go back to the classroom, and was lucky enough to get a job teaching my first love, technology. My administrator told me they had been trying to get the school announcements to be broadcasted, and asked if I would be willing to try to make it happen. I was up for the challenge, but explained that I had no background in it, so that it might take some time. I worked with my students that year to develop a plan of action. After numerous trial and errors, we finally were able to get the broadcasting channel going for our school.
How did you obtain initial funding for your program? How do you fund the class now?
After deciding to take on the task of creating a morning broadcast for our school, I created a Donors Choose to help get some of the basic equipment for the studio. We received the green screen, special lights and tripod from that endeavor. Currently, there is no funding to add for any additional equipment or supplies, but now that our operation is successful, I think it might be easier to obtain.
Did you have equipment available?
Our school has 1:1 iPad for every student. We use an iPad as our camera with the app Live:Air.
How many kids are in the TV/Video Production classes? How is it broken down? Is it a multi-year program?
Class size range from 19-25 students. and they are in the class for one semester.
Can you tell us a little more about the sessions: How long are the classes? How many students? What types of projects?
The class is 42 minutes per day and spans 2 quarters. Class size is usually around 18-25 students. The first semester is 8th grade students and the second semester is 7th grade students. The students do the broadcast each morning, video editing, coding, STEAM projects, typing preparation, and 3D programs with Tinkercad.
How many kids to do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
I try to use everyone in the class to produce the announcements. On a minimum, it takes seven students to make it happen. We currently do not cover special events, however I have students that are working on a highlight video from the Student/Staff basketball game and PBIS videos for the school.
Do your students capture other school events? Sports? Assemblies? Board meetings? Musical Performances?
Not currently, but we have discussed adding this to our class. Somestudents from a previous class have used their lunch and recess time to create a highlight video of a Student/Staff basketball game.
The jobs for the broadcast are:
- Co-directors- The Co-directors are to make sure everyone is on task and prepared for the morning broadcast.
- Anchor- The anchors report the news and information to the school…
- Script Crew- Updates the script each day for the announcements and follows up with any emails to Channel 56.
- Camera Crew- The Camera Crew is responsible for recording all
- Set Crew- The set crew creates the set, maintains the studio and makes sure the lighting is right for all recordings.
All of the students must help with the editing of previously recorded videos. They also must learn each role so that in the event that someone is absent, we always have a backup. If they enjoy a certain role more than another I allow them to do that role the most. However, they all know if someone is absent then they might have to be in a role that is not their favorite.
Do students audition for on-air positions?
No. Everyone has to be willing and trained for every position.
Do they write the content?
The students write some of the content. Teachers email submissions to be included in the broadcast ahead of time. However, students are responsible for writing the content for public service announcements, upcoming events, and fundraising activities. They are also responsible for preparing the entire daily script ahead of time.
How long does the show run?
The time varies depending on the amount of announcements each day. Usually, 3-5 minutes per day.
Do you submit programming to independent contest such as those sponsored by STN, SkillsUSA, NATAS or others?
No but we would be interested in doing this in the future.
Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District- wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web-site?
Yes. It is broadcast on YouTube for anyone to see. We share the link with parents in the school newsletter.
Where do you post programming? YouTube? Vimeo? SchoolTube? SVN-TV? Other?
Our program is live each morning on YouTube, and then remains posted for the week.
Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
- Green Screen
- Apple Computers
- Teradek App
- The announcement set is a backdrop that looks like brick, small table with black cover, 2 stools, and coffee mugs that have the student designed logo and a large logo behind the anchors.
Have any quick start tips!
Just do it! We started ours with an essential question and I learned with the students. The students will appreciate you learning with them and will amaze you with their talents and perseverance.