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Member Kudos: TV & Broadcast Media Program at Frederick V. Pankow Center, L'Anse Creuse Public Schools

2015 Education Excellence Award Recipient

DashBoard, July 1, 2015

The 20 recipients of the 2015 MASB/SET SEG Foundation Education Excellence Awards are some of the greatest examples of unique and innovative public school programs in the state of Michigan. Over the next few months, MASB will share the details of each program from their applications, presented in alphabetical order by district. This week we highlight the TV & Broadcast program at Frederick V. Pankow Center at L'Anse Creuse Public Schools.

Description: TV & Broadcast Media allows students to leave the confines of the classroom to expand learning opportunities offering authentic, performance-based, hands-on learning experiences. Students take a look at real issues in their community and report their research through first-person interviews and third-person research, broadcasting their findings. Students learn through a variety of methods, experiencing how news is reported and how films are created using the latest equipment in filming and editing. They study news broadcasts, commercials, kinetic typography, public service announcements and filmmaking techniques through a variety of media. Then, they create the best methods to convey messages through video stories based on the class discussion, projects and real-life experiences with the goal of eventual employment in the industry.

Funding/Resources: The TV & Broadcast Media program began with implementation from a district bond issue which updated technology and facilities throughout the district. Working collaboratively with the district administration and district technology staff, the existing structure was re-designed from a traditional classroom setting to an iMac lab and studio space. With updates to the control room, field cameras, studio cameras, sound equipment, and the infrastructure, the TV & Broadcast Media students are learning on state of the art equipment in a beautiful facility. The district TV studio and the station manager were moved from the technology offices to a hallway near the student classroom where students have been interns for LCPS-TV. To help maintain the facilities and provide additional funding for a program like this, DVD’s are sold of concerts and events that are filmed in the auditorium using studio equipment. The instructor donates his time at these events so that the students can learn multi-cam event filming techniques while providing a valuable community service.

Outreach: Each project in TV & Broadcast Media is designed to improve student skills in communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration by providing opportunities for students to broadcast their work to the greater L’Anse Creuse community. Students focus on the art of communicating ideas through the medium of video. In TV & Broadcast Media, the focus is not on the technology, but rather how to utilize the technology as a tool for telling compelling stories that focus on community issues.

Students work together to discuss how to approach a concept. The process continues through storyboarding, scripting and revising plans finding a way to make the largest concepts possible in a limited time and budget. Then the students collaborate with their classmates, friends and family to serve as camera operators, sound designers, lighting crew and talent to realize their creative visions.

The key ingredient is not only making the projects meaningful to the students, but being able to broadcast them to the greater community and receive feedback from those outside their classroom walls to further enhance future projects and to fuel their passion for filmmaking. Constantly seeking unique projects that help others in the community, my students will work both competitively and collaboratively to earn the client’s trust and create a product that helps outside agencies. My students have participated in the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth video series, worked with former Sherrif Mark Hackel’s department on police safety videos, collaborated with the Macomb County Juvenile Justice Center to create a video for incoming offenders that is used statewide to induct new clients into the system. We’ve worked with the State Parks and Recreation department to create videos that promote their unique shelters. This type of work encourages the students to learn business communication skills by continually checking in with their clients through phone calls, email and meetings in the classroom to monitor the client’s satisfaction with the project.

Each year we work with the Career Development Facilitator to create promotional videos for the Frederick V. Pankow Center and continue to update these on an annual basis, challenging students to surpass the quality of prior commercial work. Students are encouraged to compete in local, state and national video competitions evaluating past winners and working together to earn cash, scholarships and other awards beyond a classroom grade.

The main reason that this course succeeds for so many students is the large number of opportunities to display their success, to feel pride and to come to work every day with their second family. To walk into the classroom on most days students are actively engaged in planning, filming, editing, evaluating and broadcasting in teams outside the classroom and throughout the building. We trust each other, respect each other and truly enjoy our work together as we create meaningful and special projects for our community.

Results: One of the best parts of a course like TV & Broadcast Media is that evidence of the work is broadcast outside the classroom to be seen and evaluated by a larger community. Students create projects because they know that others are watching, and that these people rely on their work ethic in the studio, in the editing lab or out in the field to provide a quality product. Student success can be seen anytime on the L’Anse Creuse Public Schools TV station, on their Frederick V. Pankow YouTube page or on any number of DVDs that were purchased by the community to commemorate graduations and concerts in the performing arts center.

However, to truly provide evidence of a successful learning environment in this type of setting, students would need to receive jobs in the industry based on the authentic learning experiences received in the TV & Broadcast Media class. George Mikla, Class of 2008, is the technical director for in-house video operations at Comerica Park, is the TD for America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and works in the control room for the Pistons. Austin Drake, Class of 2009, runs the graphics for Fox Sports Tigers’ broadcast. Both of these former students left the TV & Broadcast Media class and received employment opportunities right out of high school. Joey Battaino broadcasts for a minor league hockey team in Texas. Alex Jacobson, only three months after graduation, had one of his films shown at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas and continues to work with Ric Viers, one of the most successful audio effects designers in the country. Last year, Breana Schmitz received a $500 cash prize in one video contest and two of my students were hired by a local videographer as video editors while they were in high school. Karlin Hilai won $500 and found work as a cinematographer for a wedding videographer, also while in high school. Lauren Mueller, Class of 2014, graduated with enough money in cash and scholarships from her video work in TV & Broadcast Media class to pay for her full tuition in college her freshman year.

These are just a few names of the students who recently graduated and the work they received during and immediately after high school based on the training they received in TV & Broadcast Media. Individual student success with the continual community outreach, video competition success and the funds raised through increased DVD sales annually combine to accurately measure the results of the program on student achievement.

Check out our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/LCTVVideos to see for yourself what our students have created!

This is a course that has picked up in popularity the past few years due to continually re-establishing itself. While each year has some similarities, every year the curriculum is tweaked to reflect the changes in technology, the changes in the industry and, of course, the changing tastes of the student body.

Students share documents on Google Docs, research interview styles on Vimeo and find many of their lessons online in our Blackboard site, in case they are absent or need a refresher. We reflect on lessons both as a group and individually in face-to-face discussions and on personal journals in Blackboard. Each unit is self-contained on the assignments tab with the elements of each assignment contained in a binder for students to access anytime during the length of the unit.

While all of this innovation is worth noting, it is the family factor that has students excited to come to class and to stay in class. In fact, these students enjoy being in the atmosphere of this video course so much that an advanced level course for multi-year students is being piloted this year called Broadcast Journalism. Unlike the other segments in this form that are generally quantifiable, it is difficult to quantify the feeling of a family atmosphere that engages students to work the moment they walk in the door. These students understand their expectations, are genuinely excited to be in class and can’t wait to get moving on their projects.

This year the Broadcast Journalism students have created more studio productions in one class than all three of the TV & Broadcast Media classes combined. These students are already getting jobs in the entertainment field as sophomores in high school as sound technicians, grips and scenic construction workers based on their resume, interview technique and work ethic from Broadcast Journalism. They’ve created special reports on “Depression During Exams,” “Plagiarism,” “Cell Phone Abuse” and “Living With Autism” to name a few from this school year alone. Creating a family workplace atmosphere in a high school classroom is one of those intangible innovations that may have an old sound to it, but it drives their passion to come to school and excel in the first year of this new extension to our existing program.

Program Coordinator:Michael Kaufman, Teacher, kaufmmi@lc-ps.org

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