and a recipient of a 2019 MSLA President's Award.
Interested fifth graders apply to be a news reporter at the beginning of the year. Each week, four to five students work together to interview staff and students about school events. (We rotate through all students who take the application seriously. This year almost half the fifth grade class applied, so they each participate every 6 weeks.) Each week I pull together a list of events and topics to start us off, but students often bring ideas of local news stories. We also use “filler” news stories as needed (This Week in History, Interview a Staff Member, Book Review, Weather, Joke of the Week, etc.) to make sure that each student has two news stories each week. On Mondays, the reporters for the week decide who will report on which stories, including if they will work alone or with a partner. They spend the next few days writing interview questions, interviewing people around the school, and writing and editing their script in a shared GoogleDoc. Students also either take photographs or select images acceptable for re-use for their backgrounds. On Thursdays during their recess, students record each other using a green screen, and on Fridays they use the app DoInk to put the images and video clips together to create the final video. They also self-assess their work over the week with a rubric and are able to see how much they’ve improved through the process. The video is then aired for the entire school to watch the following Monday.
Working out the schedule and the time to do the work was definitely the most difficult part. Fifth grade teachers agreed to give up the few news reporters during their morning meeting time (30 minutes) three days a week. I don’t have a class during that morning time because students use that time to check out books, so the library is extra busy those mornings, but it’s definitely worth it! It can be difficult when students are reporting who may need extra help with the writing, but we always manage to work it out. Some students choose to continue to work during lunch, recess, after school, etc. When students apply, they agree to give up their recess two days a week on the weeks they are reporting to do the recording and editing of the video. Also, the Speech and Language Pathologist often helps. I asked her initially so that the video would still happen even when I was out for a day, but having another person to help is great, and she often practices the speaking with her students who do the reporting.
What technology do you use?
I have a greenscreen and stand, an iPad with an external microphone, and an iPad adaptor for a tripod for filming. [All specific materials I use are included in the attachment at the end.] I was lucky that the PTO agreed to pay for the most of these materials. Before that, I just hung up a green tablecloth, so you really don’t need anything fancy. If you are using a cheap tablecloth, I recommend doubling up so it isn’t quite as transparent. The external microphone significantly improves audio quality which is a huge help when showing the videos in a full classroom, but we didn’t have one when we started. I project the GoogleDoc script on the board so students aren’t looking down at a paper while reading, which is nice but not necessary. We record the video clips on the iPad, and then use the app DoInk to put the video clips and images together. DoInk is only $2.99 and is easy to use once you’ve figured it out. Once the video is finished, I put it in my GoogleDrive and share it with the staff. Each classroom watches it during their lunch on Mondays, and it’s also put on the school website and the local DedhamTV news station so that kids can share the videos with their families at home.
Do you have anything I can use that might help me get started?
Absolutely! Here’s the presentation I shared at the MSLA Conference in March. I’ve included attachments to the beginning of year application, a sample news report, filler news story ideas, a checklist, the self-assessment rubric, end of year reflection survey, DoInk directions, links to the greenscreen and filming materials I use, and more. Feel free to edit and use anything as you’d like. And if you have any questions I haven’t answered, please reach out to me!