Taught by Amy Flanders, the juniors and seniors are required to complete two video projects. One is their newscast. Students start by writing a memo to set up an interview. Next each student shoots an interview for a classmate and completes an on-camera interview of his or her own. These interviews are incorporated into a newscast. "We try to make the newscasts look live and seamless," Flanders said.
Preparing a video for television requires teamwork. The students work in groups of six to create a newscast. Roles include two students as anchors, one operates the boom mic, another is on mixer, one is the VCR manager and a camera operator.
The students have a make-shift studio set up in the corner of their high school classroom.
"Some students are initially unsure about using video technology, but with practice they gain confidence," Flanders added. "Video production also encourages students to practice poise and it is an excellent tool for self-assessment."
Flanders said the elective speech course allows her to teach in a different way. "I become more of a facilitator than a traditional teacher," she said. "I provide students with tools and guidance and models of work from previous classes. Working independently or in groups, students are responsible for following directions and meeting deadlines—just like the real world."
Flanders added that probably the toughest part of this style of teaching is managing time and equipment. "Often projects run concurrently, so I need to juggle cameras, tripods, monitors and audio equipment while keeping track of student progress," she said.
For the most part, the students use equipment that was at the school. The only items that needed to be purchased were microphones, headsets and a VCR. The monitors were castoffs from an old computer lab.
The students are finding the projects fun as they get to see how they come across on camera.
Flanders added that as part of the elective speech course, the students also present plays to middle and elementary school students. They not only get a chance to act, but the speech students need to work as a team during rehearsals. Students also complete small group communications/problem solving activities as well as traditional speeches.
Video newscasts to be aired on Channel 6
Wednesday through Friday, May 20 to 22, the elective speech class newscasts will be aired on the local cable station, Channel 6, at 6:30 p.m. Topics to be covered include school as well as community news.
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