Monday, February 1, 2016

Green Shirt and Green Screen... Oops.

In October, I began my first attempts at putting together a student new broadcast. The students and I learned lots of things in the first few months as I wrote about in a previous post. We learned how to use the iPad to record, how to utilize Google Docs for script writing, and how to use iMovie for editing among other things. We are still working on fixing some of the problems we noticed way back then, but we have also made other improvements along the way.

One of the problems that we noticed initially is the sound quality while recording with the iPad. This is still an issue that we are battling. We have tried a few different microphones and have not had a lot of success. There is one microphone we borrowed to try out that seemed to work well, so we are in the process of ordering that microphone. In the meantime, it has meant telling the students to speak up and adjusting sound in iMovie.

iMovie: When you click on volume on the bottom,
 you can raise up the sound levels.
Writing the script has been somewhat of a challenge for the students. Some kids are just better writers than others. This has meant that I set the students up to type and allow them to try their best, but then I end up looking it over to make sure everything is correct. When the students have done a good job, there's not much I need to redo, but sometimes the kids do very little and I end up rewriting the whole script. It's ok though because it is all about the experience.

We have made a few improvements over the months since I last wrote about the student news. Our first improvement was to get rid of the printed scripts as seen in this episode:

We replaced the printed scripts with a teleprompter. Our teleprompter consists of a LCD projector on a cart connected to my laptop which has the script set up in The script is projected onto a portable screen.

This improvement has meant that there is no more shuffling of papers while a student is speaking and the students are now looking up rather than down at their papers. The end result looked like this:

This was a great improvement, but after attending the TIES conference in Minneapolis this year, I just had to have a green screen. Luckily our previous Media Specialist, the great and powerful Tom Gilgenbach, gifted us the app Do Ink Green Screen. Our custodians were kind enough to paint one of the walls in our studio (back storage room) green over winter break. This has been such fun! We still record using the iPad, then we import the video into the Do Ink app to add backgrounds, save the video to the camera roll, and finish editing in the iMovie app.
Do Ink Green Screen App: Super easy to use!
Even my 4th graders can do it!
The green screen can end up looking really cool, like in this video:

But we have run into the issue of students wearing green shirts, like in this video (oops!):

Looking forward, there are still a number of ways we would like to improve the student news. Ordering the microphone to improve sound quality will be a great help. We are hoping to paint the two walls on the sides of the news desk to improve the adding of backgrounds. Each week we announce winners for good behavior and we announce birthdays daily. We will try to start adding photos of the students as their names are announced.

Looking to next year, I am considering different ways we could have students involved. Currently, all the students have an assigned date to type the script and to be an anchor. Some students dislike typing and others do not like being an anchor. I have had students help with recording and editing in minimal amounts. Next year, I am thinking that I may have students broken up into groups based on which role they would like. Perhaps some students will be our reporters and gather information for our script writers to write into the script. The script writers would perfect their writing skills in scripts that the anchors would read. While the anchors read there would be a director/ producer directing them when to speak, slow down, and speed up as they record on the iPad. After the recording is done, the editors would then put in the green screen background and edit the video in the iMovie app. This would mean that all of our 5th grade students would be involved in some way in the announcements, but in the way that they would most enjoy. This is still a thought I will be pondering for a while.