Example Raptor Vision Videos:
Future Ready Presentation
Creating a Television Production program in a middle school.
I thank you all for coming! This session is 55 minutes and I regret to inform you that it is presentation based. Sadly do to this program taking place outside of my own place, it was not feasible to create a more hands on experience as I would have had to make sure any and all devices you had available were working on the same page and with being asked to do this so late in the game, I just didn’t have the time to prep a hands on workshop. So I apologize before hand that this will be more of me talking and showing. It is meant as an informational introduction to creating a program in your own school. I intend to talk for about half the time, show examples of student work, and answer questions and give advice.
So I will talk about several topics.
Minimum requirements to start the program and procuring them.
Finding the time.
In this presentation I will be discussing starting a program from the ground up. The program is not just about making videos though.
Minimum requirements to start the program:
First: Starting a program from scratch. What did I do? When I came to Stamford I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to do a kids show. When I taught as a sub in Westport their middle school had a great morning show. Every room and a Close Circuit tv and in the mornings they were set to broadcast the show. It was set with a splash screen and a fun song that played every day until it was time for the show to start then it would go right into the pledge and announcements. The show lasted just a few minutes and this was how every teacher in teh school accepted that the day was supposed to begin. Which may be one of your first big hurdles… convincing the staff that showing the show is a good thing at all. But that is a different monster.
So now Smart Screens have replaced the CC Tvs and live broadcasting programs have replaced the hard wired cable. Where do we start?
I started with my own Youtube channel. I create tutorial videos for painting miniatures and playing a game with them called Warhammer 40k. When I started playing the game I looked online for videos demonstrating how to paint the soldiers and frustrated at the lack, started making my own. These videos exploded in popularity and I became an internet celebrity in a gaming culture I didn’t even know existed. It was fun! and I wanted to share it with the kids.
I started with my own camera and 4 kids in an after school club. We did our best to simulate a news show with world news, sports and weather. We would hand draw backgrounds and do the show with the camera without any special effects or any thing. We used Windows Movie Maker to put it together. The kids also did reports around the school, covering the special events and interviewing kids about their opinions on cafetria food and other must know topics. But it was very rough.
The second year we managed to get a computer and camera through the 21st century program. We also bought a green screen, and I bought a more powerful program for video editing called Sony Vegas. I published a series of gaming DVDs through a successful kickstarter and used the program to make the DVDs. I had to figure out the program myself through trial and error, and again resorting to Youtube videos to teach myself. I shared this experience with the kids.
The kids started making awesome videos. For example they made a video pretending that the ground was erupting with Lava by pretending to shake around then adding the effect after. They also vastly upgraded the news show. At this time we still didn’t know much about how to do a real show, but nailed ours. We turned my closet into a studio and set up the green screen. Then the kids would record themselves doing the news stories, and in editing add the images to the background relating to the topics.
We also started covering assemblies and “Streaming” them live. The first useful application of this was when we live streamed the graduation for a few dozen family members that were unable to get seats in the auditorium. They watched from the cafeteria instead! At this point administration had secured some TVs to be intalled in the Hallway upon which we could play our recorded shows which we were doing weekly at this point. The exposure got more kids interested. Then last year I managed to turn this into a full class. The class embraced the challenge of what I warned as “The single hardest thing they have ever tried to do”. These kids did a phenominal job producing daily shows and turning the TV program into what I have now.
The class came up out of necessity. Your first hurdle is going to be to find the time to get access to the kids, and accepting that you are probably going to have to sacrifice a lot of your own. At first we were doing it as a once a week after school club so it was barely more than a 45 minute weekly interest group. Then I talked kids into coming in at 7am and working with me for 25 minutes before school began and we started producing some real shows. But even that was not enough time. It was not until I convinced the principal to create a class that met every other day for the entire year that I finally managed to get it going. This was a deviation from the norm. Usually kids had art every four days. This arrangement meant that they would be having it double time. In my particular school there happens to be another class however, called Design. So I pitched the class as a half year of Art and a half year of Design. During the art portion we looked at video making from the artistic point of view and learned about framing shots, directing and drama. The kids made some great videos about anti bullying.
Then we switched gears for the second half of the year to Design where the class was more about project based problem solving. Here is where I put into place my Digital Citizen curriculum which is the other element of the Television Production and Digital Media class. More on that in a bit.
For now I would like to spend a few minutes showing you some of the kid made content. First we would watch videos made by other kids or adults to get inspiration. Then I unleashed the kids to make their own.
Before I move on to the second part of my presentation I want to wrap up starting the class.
What you need:
An HD Digital Video Camcorder. Most decent camcorders in the 300 dollar range will work well. I am a fan of Canon. After producing our show with the camcorder that we had I managed to convince admin and the PTO to fund the group by buying us a very nice replacement. This is the top of the line “Civilian” camera available. It was 700.00. In addition to this I also secured a wireless microphone. I did this by showing them what we could do. I did the skype chat with soldiers and other wonderful projects. Once I showed the potential, the powers that be were more likely to find money for me.
A green screen set. You can find them on Amazon. This will include the collapsible frame which holds the green screen backdrop and some lights. About 200.00
A decent computer. I was lucky and got mine through the 21st century grant which meant it was sort of off the grid. This gives me the ability to manage it myself and install programs etc. You will likely have to go through the district IT department. As I expanded the program admin got me another powerful PC that had Photoshop on it.
I use Sony Vegas. The “Platinum” version of the program is affordable and works fine. I tried many programs, from Windows Movie Maker to Vegas an found Vegas to be the most powerful and least glitchy of them all. It is recognized as one of the most user friendly and cost effective programs. That is not to say that the free programs don’t get the job done. I taught a PD last year showing how to edit video in much the same way using a free downloadable program.
A group of kids! Your first group is probably going to be small, and will likely be made up of the more “fringe” students. But the biggest challenge is find time for them to meet. At this point you are taking what you can get. The more you produce, the easier it is to make changes and get special consideration. I got permission to use my morning time as my collateral duty so as not to break the contract which is a very important consideration. At all times when trying to create a passion based program like this you have to be mindful of respecting the contract. It is very easy for us to let little things slide here and there. This is not in your best interest no matter how much you love it.
Finally I come to Digital Citizenship. As I was working this project, I obtained my masters in Ed Tech. It was here that the class came into focus for me. While it was wonderful to be teaching the kids real world skills that they could apply to the workplace immediately, I needed something more to flush out the program. I needed something more for the kids to do now that I had them every other day! They got pretty good at producing the morning show and I needed to fill their time.
As part of my program at ECSU we had to create a unit plan based on digital citizenship. Digital Citenship is the concept of creating and following a set of rules for online use. I introduce it to the kids by asking what it means to be a citizen today. We get lots of answers about following the rules, not speeding, shoplifting… etc. But then I ask them how long it took it for us as a society to come up with this list of rules that a Citizen should follow. The answers vary but the truth of it is that we have been working these rules since the dawn of civilization! Greece, Rome, Egypt… all of these ancient civilizations contributed over thousands of years towards establishing our list of rules we have today which citizens agree to follow as part of a society. Again, speaking very generally. 🙂 But then I ask them how long the internet and digital media have been around. The accepted mainstream date for the birth of the internet is the mid 90s with the explosion of AOL. Sure it started ten years before in 1985, but it was not until the mid 90s that computers became truly common place, and internet service started becoming part of the norm. It was 1993 for example when I got my first email address, and not until 1996 or so that I made my first non college email address using Yahoo.