Air Times: Friday 9:05, 10:00, 10:35
Station: Channel 3, Madison School (closed circuit)
Our news show covers the happenings of Madison Elementary School. The show runs Live! each Friday morning at 9:05, or just after the morning pledge. We rebroadcast the show at 10:00 and at 10:35 for those classes that have scheduling conflicts with the live airing. The show plans to debut in November, giving time for selection and training of the new crew.
The cast and crew are made up of 5th graders from both classes. We are chosen after all 5th graders are introduced to the news during a tour of a local TV station's news department. Following the field trip, our crew looks at the positions available, and then we apply for our desired jobs. We are interviewed by the Producer and the Editor-in-Chief, who is hired first.
There were 29 students, more than half the 5th grade, working on the news staff last season to produce the weekly program. The curriculum ties are plentiful: grammar, paragraphing, main idea, details, pre-writing, interviewing, sequencing, reading fluency, and the list goes on. But the amount of higher order thinking skills used to create a show from scratch each week, to innovate new elements to the show, to troubleshoot problems as they arise, to evaluate one’s performance, and to lead others through the process, adds up to an immeasurable opportunity for each 5th grader.
Our show started four years ago in the spring, 2006-07, airing six episodes. We originally called ourselves 'Mustang Live Action News.' PTA kicked in some equipment so we could edit the videotape. We broadcasted straight from camera to VCR with the playing of the tapes overriding the camera. You could hear the switching of tapes during the stories, since each video story had to be on a separate tape, or cart, to be cued up ahead of time. The audience saw the on-screen VCR commands, but that wouldn't dampen the interest in the show. Anchors were Kaitlin, Lauren, David, and Paige.
2007-08 we introduced applying for the various jobs and making it run like a company. Students could be promoted, apply for multiple jobs, and also be laid off; a code of standards was set for being on the staff. More freedom to go about the campus was needed to cover events as they happened, and so citizenship began to play an important role in job selection. We began calling ourselves 5 Live! News (coined by Eileen Crowley.) Still using VCR and tapes, production quality was lacking. And again, the production started after the New Year. Anchors were Holly and Dixie.
2008-09, PTA kicked in again and allowed us to switch from VCR to DVD technology. Also, we began using a video switcher to switch inputs from camera to DVR, and we now can use a 2-camera setup. There is no need to switch tapes, so we can cue up the next video electronically with the DVR. Another innovation for that year's crew was the use a laptop to scroll the stories for the anchors, acting as a shoestring budget's version of a teleprompter. That was also the first year that the entire show was student produced. The editorial staff eats lunch together on Mondays to set up the show for the week, we film and interview throughout the week, and we stay after school on Thursdays to finish up, outline the order of the show, and perform a run-through. Our anchors were Tyler and Tyler (T'N'T in the Morning), Koral, and Lexie.
2009-10’s first show was delayed due to the extended flu season. Our goals for the year were to enhance our set design, to boost the signal strength, and to go online showing webcasts of the show a week delayed. The show did go online, with help and guidance from Leslie Caton, and for a bit more money, the video files remain private and cannot be copied from online. The webcast is edited slightly from the original show for privacy issues. The webcast can only be seen from the website. Also featured on the site is an archive of recordings from previous years.
However, not all went as planned for better and worse. The library location of our 'studio' began renovations and we had to move out. This hampered most goals for the year, but opened up some new opportunities. We took the show on the road and began broadcasting from different classrooms. This became popular and was a great public relations boost, with most classes hosting the show. We also filmed our first outdoor broadcast during the Walk-a-thon in the spring. Anchors were Hammy and Dori (HDtv), and Carly.
2010-11 has started off faster than any previous year, thanks to all the innovations made in previous years. We have had a record number of applications, 37 of the 47 5th graders, as the interest keeps growing. There have been many innovations this year. A sports department was established after the success of last year's 'sports center,' weather has been added utilizing the new Promethian Boards, and Today in History is a regular spot. Also, since moving from the library, 5 Live! News is now in a classroom across the hall, using 1/3 of the room during broadcasting, a vast improvement in work space.
Technology continues to improve. Some goals this year are to offer HD video on the website, provide a slide show of behind the scenes photos, refine the studio presence, use a live two-camera technique in studio, and with the help of PTA, to film and publish in wide-screen in anticipation of streaming the show next year. A Facebook group has been established, currently with 85 members, to communicate any special events or releases and to let staff members comment on the show. Once again, our Editor-in-Chief works collaboratively with all staff members, and the writing staff is producing excellently formatted material.
All stories and videos are assigned, completed, edited, and produced by the students. All staff members make themselves available to the students and help us out, all classrooms watch the show on Fridays, and all students are glued to their seats enjoying the show.