Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Teaching 5th Graders to Create Video Announcements

Last school year, I began my journey as the Media Specialist at Pinewood Elementary. One of the most challenging, but most enjoyable parts of this journey has been the creation of our daily student video announcements. I began last year winging things a bit. I had edited videos before. I had used an iPad to record. I had used YouTube and Google Drive. However, I had never done a daily broadcast or taught students how to be news anchors. This process was a learning opportunity for both myself and the students. You can read about the process a bit in two of my previous posts: "What Student News Has Taught Me and My Students" and "Green Shirt and Green Screen... Oops." With all that I learned from last year, I began this year with a new strategy to prepare our students to really take control of most of the production of the student news.

To begin the school year, I set aside my first three lessons to teach students how to be quality producers of the student news. The first thing that this new group of students needed to understand was the process for creating the announcements. It was really difficult to find a way to explain so that they understood the three day process. I needed to explain that on day one of production two students would write the script that the students who had Media the following day would be recording for the announcements that would be shown on the third day. This is a really hard concept for students to understand, and something that I am still working on explaining. One of the things that seemed to help with this explanation was creating a schedule of student jobs and posting the schedule outside our studio. This allowed the students to see when they would be performing the jobs of script writer, producer/director, and news anchor. Teaching students this process was part of our first lesson on the announcements.

The main objective of our first lesson on video announcements was how to write the script. This involved teaching the students how to open Google Drive, locate and access their Shared with Me Folder, and locate the two documents that would be necessary to write the script. The students work as partners on the student announcements, so one child opened the announcement bulletin and the other opened the announcement script. They then worked together to write a practice script.

The objective of our second lesson was to learn how to record the announcements. This meant teaching the students the basics of using the iPad to record a video and the exact process we used when recording. When recording the announcements, four students would be back in the studio. One pair would be the producers/directors and the other pair would be the news anchors. The director would hold out a whiteboard with the date of the announcements for the camera to see and pull it out of the way thus directing the news anchors to begin speaking. The producer would get the iPad zoomed in on the news anchors and press the record button to begin recording the announcements. The news anchors would then use their wireless mouse to control the teleprompter and begin reading the script that had been prepared for them by the previous day's class. I explained this whole process to the class and then had every student come back to the studio to practice a mini script so they had a better idea of the process.

The objective of the third lesson was to increase the students' confidence in being a news anchor and make them aware of the importance of projecting their voice and reading fluently. We talked about what reading too fast and too slow looked like and what that did to the feel of the announcements. We talked about what reading too loud or too quiet did for the announcement recording. We then practiced reading a script together as a class trying to keep to a good pace and good volume. After practicing the script a few times, we talked about ways to loosen up your body and mind so that there was less nervous energy when recording the announcements. We also talked about ways to warm up your voice for better sound. Finally, we talked about what it looked like to be a news anchor. News anchors smile and have fun, but still remain professional and do not act like clowns. This third lesson was in my opinion one of the most important and one of the most fun.

This year the announcements are being overseen and edited by a committee of teachers. I really appreciate this as I am currently out on maternity leave and will not return until mid-December. I feel that this committee and the lessons that have been taught to the students will allow announcement production to go smoothly in my absence. Next school year, or perhaps even towards the end of this school year, I would like to further place the production of the student news in the hands of students by creating a group of students interested in editing the announcement video. I have had a number of students ask about this possibility and I would love for this to be a truly student centered program. Whenever I decide to go ahead with this, I would create the group of students that would meet once for training on how to edit the videos and meet monthly afterwards for further training and feedback. These students would have a schedule for days on which they would come in during recess to edit the announcement video for the following day.

Our video announcements continue to be a daily learning opportunity. They are an area of growth for our staff committee, our students, and for myself. I look forward to seeing the ways in which this program will evolve.