With changes happening daily in our digital world, students have to have the knowledge to keep up and grow.
In the 21st century, we are teaching the “digital child”. Technology is what they know and are comfortable with. Giving students the tools they need to work to their potential in our technology driven society is our privilege and responsibility. Broadcasting is one way to give them the tools they need to succeed. Wyandot’s NewsHawks broadcasting club helps give our students the opportunity to develop creativity and increase technological skills. They learn the importance of working as a team to accomplish one common goal. One of the Michigan Educational Technology Standards is to “Use technologies to input, retrieve, organize, manipulate, evaluate, and communicate information”. We are meeting that challenge everyday at Wyandot.
SVN: Tell us about your background and how you decided to start teaching video production.
My name is Paula Goosen and I have been a middle school Library Media Specialist in the Chippewa Valley School district for 10 years. I also worked as an elementary media specialist for one year. Prior to that, I taught first and third grade in another district. I received my undergraduate degree in Education from Wayne State University, my Masters in Library Science, and my media endorsement from Wayne State University. The schools in our district were upgraded to include broadcast capabilities with a technology bond passed in 1998. After everything was installed I approached our administration to ask if I could take over the daily announcements and put them on the air. Up to this point, the announcement “club” was a group of students who read announcements over the PA twice a day. Since our district had invested so much money in technology, they were very supportive and more than happy to let me take over. As a media specialist, I am faced with the challenge of integrating technology and a love for reading into every day classroom activities and projects. This was one way to showcase students in a way that interests them and, at the same time, reinforce importance skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, editing, and so much more. The broadcast club is cross curricular, allowing members to become specialists in communication. The students have stronger skills in writing, language arts, and technology. Students gain confidence in themselves and their ability to work under pressure and still shine on camera. They are exposed to video editing, digital storytelling, power point, digital cameras, podcasting and public speaking. I know that a greater number of students listen to important announcements because they are visual.
SVN: How did you obtain initial funding for your program?
The majority of the equipment needed came from our district and the technology bond. We have added cameras, software and microphones from fundraiser money over the last few years.
SVN: Did you have equipment available?
No equipment was available to us prior to the technology bond which really helped launch our program. Previous to this generous bond, the students did all announcements over the PA system.
SVN: How many kids are in the TV production Class? How is it broken down? Is it a multi year program?
We are not a class, we are a club. This year we have 25 students. They are divided into 5 person crews and are rotated throughout the year. Each crew is on for one week at a time. Three eighth grade girls are also responsible for shorter afternoon announcements. Through their enthusiasm, they make the afternoon PA announcements more fun to listen to.
SVN: Can you tell us a little more about the sessions? How long are the classes? How many students?
Since the majority of our students arrive on busses, we do not have much time to meet in the morning before they go Live at 8:05! Usually the entire crew is here by 7:50, and they work very hard to get ready by air time. Everyone has a job to do and it gets done! After announcements, they stay to do important prep work for the next morning (changing PowerPoint slides, updating the teleprompter, going through and editing announcements, just to name a few), then they head to first hour. They are responsible for keeping up with their classes and any work they miss.
SVN: How many kids do the morning news broadcast? Do you also do a weekly broadcast? Special events coverage?
Five kids are in charge of the broadcast every morning. We do not do a weekly broadcast, however, we have done “special news bulletins” when something comes up that needs coverage. We broadcast the school spelling bee, geography bee, and chemistry bee. We have done special coverage in the afternoon for teacher of the year and special holiday events and raffles. Whenever it is requested of us, we try to accommodate.
We do special events coverage throughout the school year to highlight events or group accomplishments. The NewsHawks work on their lunchtime to complete these special events which air on the morning broadcast. In the past, they have highlighted our “Volunteens” many times, Student Council events and the school plays. They have interviewed basketball, football, volleyball players and coaches. They have created commercials for school dances, for yearbook sales and candy sales. During Spirit Week last year, the NewsHawks filmed a segment where they tried to get into the penny counting room to get the scoop on who was winning penny wars. They did not find out the winner, but created a very funny clip for our viewers. Last year, our group filmed a 15 minute video to show incoming 6th graders important things about our school. They interviewed teachers, talked about opening lockers and did a video tour of the building. The students also did a special for Teen Read Week, and interviewed students at lunch about their favorite candy.
This past fall, after adding a large addition to our school, we welcomed 300 additional students to our building. These students came from other middle schools in our district and had to switch schools when the district boundary lines were changed. The NewsHawks stepped up and put together a special video called “Wyandot’s Top Ten”: What students, staff and parents like about Wyandot”. We showed this to incoming kids, new parents, and new staff to help them feel welcome at our school.
Our Volunteens are a community service group of 8th graders who do tons of community service every year. One of the events they participate in every year is the Run Wild at the Detroit Zoo. Our NewsHawks went to the zoo, covered the event with video tape and interviews, and came back to school on Monday ready to show their special report to the school. This year, we covered the Volunteens Big Bag Wrap up. See our video report on this website!
This past fall, the NewsHawks were chosen to work with Channel 4 News and become members of the 4Casters Club. Channel 4 is working to connect to our school. They have installed a weather tower on our roof, and soon our students will be bringing the weather forecast to the channel 4 noon news, the all weather cable channel and website.
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?
We have two anchors, a weather person, a camera person and a tech support person who work every morning. The members of the crew rotate every day so they each have a turn at every job, plus get to anchor twice during the week. Occasionally, I have a student who is only interested in the technical jobs, and chooses not to anchor.
SVN: Do the students audition for on-air positions?
Every year in April, I pass out applications for the following school year. After I collect applications, students are invited to audition to become part of our club. I have two additional teachers watch the auditions with me. I hold auditions for two reasons. The first reason is because it really helps me decide who is really serious about being a part of this club. Because we are so short on time in the mornings, I need kids who are dedicated and who show up when they are scheduled. The second reason is because it gives the students a chance to be on camera and try it out. We tape auditions and show each person their audition tape. (The actual audition takes about 30 seconds. They bring a prepared announcement and read a short script. ) We look at the tape together and critique how they did. We offer suggestions and ask questions. Most kids who take the time to audition are accepted into the club. Over the years, we have had special education kids audition and do an incredible job. We have one student this year he is very shy and quiet in class, but on camera, he shines!
SVN: Do they write the content?
Sometimes students are asked to write content or storyboards for commercials or special announcements. Mostly, they edit and read messages given to them by teachers, coaches and other students.
SVN: How long does the show run?
3-6 minutes every morning
SVN: Do you submit programming to independent contests such as those sponsored by Studic Skills and School Tube?
Last year, we won first place in the Sound Engineering Live Broadcast Contest for the middle school news category. Sound Engineering is the company who installed our equipment. We have not submitted to School Tube, but hope to do more of that this year.
SVN: Can your broadcast be viewed outside the school? District-Wide? Local cable access? On your school/district web site?
Anyone within our district can view our broadcast over the district network. We put a daily podcast on our own website so parents can listen to the news from the morning.
SVN: Do you have an equipment list you can share with our readers?
We currently use a JVC digital camera mounted on our broadcast cart. Everything on the cart (VCR, Camera and Document camera) is connected together and is controlled through the document camera with switches. We have a Dell laptop connected for special effects and we use a desktop monitor connected to another computer as our teleprompter. Our two Shure microphones also connected to the broadcast cart and are controlled by an audio mixer on the cart. We currently use Windows Movie Maker as our editing software. We use our desktop with another microphone to record the podcast using Audacity as the kids are on the air. After they are done, one of the students will edit the podcast, and I will put it on our school website.
One of our goals is to raise money for a video mixer so we can add cameras and multimedia equipment to the cart. The mixer will allow kids the opportunity to create smoother transitions between cameras and other equipment. We would also like to add a title maker and a green screen to the broadcast.
SVN: Do you have any quick start up tips for other schools?
My advice would be to just find some willing students and give it a try. When I look back at tapes from our first year doing this, I can’t believe how far we have come. We started in a classroom with a camera so big that two people had to carry it. We had no backdrop or lights, and no laptop for any kind of special effects. We now have a better camera, better microphones, great backdrops (thanks to our talented art students) and video editing capabilities. Equipment used in video production is more accessible and costs less every day. Companies have worked hard to make the video production equipment very user friendly.
We may have lacked the bells and whistles when we started, but we never lacked enthusiasm. Students worked with me to create a plan for the broadcast. They wrote the script and came up with fun things to do every day. Students love to see their classmates on TV doing the news. The proof of that comes on the days when, for technical reasons only, we do not broadcast. Students come down all day asking me what happened and why the news was not on. We try not to let that happen very often! It is good for students to see other students work hard, have fun and sometimes even make mistakes!