Tuttle Middle School | Print |
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Written by Jay Hoffman   

I was originally trained as a “shop” teacher which evolved to Industrial Arts and presently is referred to as “Technology Education” (better known as; Tech. Ed.). During my 14 year tenure at South Burlington I sold all our heavy duty shop tools and machines in favor of a contemporary Tech. Ed. Program.

Six years ago while attending a National Technology Conference in Redondo Beach California a colleague and I caught a vision for a broadcasting program that combined the Arts with Technology. Together we acquired a grant of nearly $40,000 dollars from a local Community Education Fund. The grant allowed us to buy the very basics that we would need including a TV for every room in the school, (45) front office included. We had no equipment prior to this.

That is where it all began. I had no experience at all in this field. What drew me to it was learning how valuable this approach could be for students in terms of equipping them for 21st century job skills. The amount of technology applications, team building, problem solving, information assessment etc… that could be taught through such a program was amazing to me.

I enlisted the help of our local public Educational Television station to train our kids in running a studio. SBNN (South Burlington Network News) became official in February of 2003. I soon became involved with local Public Educational TV Station Channel 16. As a board member I work on their Strategic Planning Committee. As of this year my lab is fully digital including brand new state of the art sound rooms.

There are 10 -12 students on our News Team. It is a multi age group; 6, 7, & 8grades. They are chosen via application process. Their grades must be in good standing and they must be good role models for their peers. They report directly to the studio before school starts. What most schools refer to as Homeroom we call TA (Teacher Advisory) It is a time when we can connect with kids through community building activities as well as time to just read. However in our studio we are busy all year producing and working on delivering the news to the School body.

We broadcast once a week every Friday. The kids developed the script, and run virtually every aspect of the studio. It is truly the News Kids Choose, Hence our Motto. Our team members rotate through each job so they become proficient at each studio position. They do however gravitate to specific areas based on their gifts and talents. Our show duration is 9 – 10 minutes. We use a combination of prerecorded video stories and live anchors. Stories are broadcast directly from the computers. One unique feature of our show is that we like to incorporate music in our pieces when ever possible.

There is wide spread support of our program by our administration both building level and district level as well as within our community. Local Cinemas show our students work on special occasions. Our local police dept. drives students to outside shoots when ever possible. So do parents. A lot of our stories are community related.

Period eight classes are elective and students can choose broadcasting class as an option. This allows wider participation by other students in the school. This class produces much of what is aired on the Friday Show. In this class 3 or 4 experienced student editors are always kept on to help train new incoming students.

Four years ago three of our female students entered a nation wide video competition sponsored by CNN. They finished fourth in the middle school division and split a $500 dollar cash prize. In the past two members of our team were selected at two different times out of all New England to be Fox44 Kid Sportscasters. They actually MC live on camera handing out an award at half time during the Boston Celtics Basketball game at the Garden.

This year four Members of our news team competed in a national competition sponsored by eSchoolnews.com. They were recently honored in Washington DC for their First place finish in their division.

Our team speaks all over New England at Educational Conferences both as keynote and as workshop hosts. We are presently working with our district network folks to set up a streaming process that will allow us to link our shows to our school web site.

Here is a list of some of our equipment:

Cameras:2 Cannon GLII
2 Panasonic AG-DVC30
1 Panasonic AG-DVC7
1 Panasonic AG-DVX100B
2 Panasonic PV-DV4020 Palmcorders
DV PRO Mixer 3 (field mixer)
3 Azden 100series wireless on camera mount mics
2 Azden 105 series wireless on camera mount “
1 Azden 100series camera mount Shotgun mic
1 Rode camera mount shotgun mic
1 Sennheiser shotgun/boom pole kit with wind sock
4-5 mix of XLR omni and unidirectional Shure mics
3 lapel XLR Shure mics –Studio

Yamaha MG206c Digital Sound board.
Panasonic Digital AV Mixer AG-MX70
JVC Pro SR-DVM600 DV/HDD/DVD recorder
Sony DVD player
2 iMac desk top machines
1 iMac laptop (for student take home)
Light Tronics TL-3012 (10 cans)
Panasonic Flat Panel monitor
8 Production Intercom Inc. hardwired head sets

Portable Shoot:
Videonics AV Mixer MXPro
Tota Light kit w/umbrellas, 3 lights
Manfrotto tripods ; 745B/701RC head, 3246/503 head, 475B/701RC
Lots of cables
Firelite external hardrive USB

Quick tips.

Buy turnkey packages if possible. Visit studios already doing what you want to do. Hook up with your local public access TV Stations as a resource for training and guidance. Start small. Have Fun!