Sarah Bickel, Librarian
How does it work?
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 more than half the fifth grade class applied, so they each participate every two-ish months.) Each week I pull together a list of events and topics to start us off, but students often bring ideas of local news stories. I 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 have three days to write interview questions, interview people around the school, and write and edit their script in a shared GoogleDoc. Students also either take photographs or select images acceptable for re-use for their backgrounds. On Thursdays, 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. The video is then aired for the entire school to watch the following Monday.
This seems like a lot of time! How do you do it?
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 (20-30 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 got a green screen and iPad adapter for a tripod for filming. (I was lucky that my principal agreed to pay for the green screen this year. Before that, I just hung up a green tablecloth from the Dollar Store, so you really don’t need anything fancy.) I recommend a microphone to better pick up the sound, though ours is super old so I don’t recommend that specific one. 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 (directions here). Once the video is finished, I put it in my GoogleDrive and share it with the staff. The school watches it during lunch once a week, and it’s also put on the school website 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! I’ve attached many documents I created that I use for the process. Feel free to edit and use as you’d like. And if you have any questions I haven’t answered, please reach out to me!
- Application Form
- Student Introduction
- Weekly News Schedule
- News Report Checklist
- End of Year Reflection -- I haven’t actually done this yet. My plan for the last edition is to record students sharing some type of reflection about the experience, and to include a compilation of these along with bloopers from the year. Ask me how it went in a few weeks!