In April of 2017, Kenilworth Junior High Schoool teacher Laura Bradley wrote an article for KQED’s In the Classroom website. The article – Broadcasting Class Creates an Authentic Real-World Learning Experience – described Bradley’s student-run television station KTV and the KTV daily news broadcast.
Some months after the article was published, Henry E. Huntington Middle School teacher José Caire read the article and found himself inspired to start a student-run news broadcast program at the school.
Step #1 of his plan? See what the kids enrolled in his journalism class could do without a studio and using nothing more complicated than their cell phone or SLR camera to film the broadcast.
Less than nine months later, mission accomplished. Caire and his students had posted to the middle school’s Hunting Horn online newspaper the first ever Huntington Middle School news broadcast.
The Back Story
During the summer before the start of the 2017-2018 academic school year, Caire was asked by his principal to teach a class on how to create an online school newspaper. Such a newspaper had never before been produced by Huntington Middle School students. In fact, the school hadn’t produced any kind of newspaper in about five years.
Nonetheless, Caire agreed to take on the challenge. His initiative surprised no one. Ever since coming to San Marino Unified near Los Angeles in 1995, Caire has developed a reputation as one of the district’s all time great utility players, someone who, year in and out, would consistently demonstrate both the ability and the versatility to take on a variety of new tasks, challenges, and entirely new responsibilities.
Mr. Caire is also a nationally award-winning yearbook adviser. Under his advisement, his high school student-produced yearbooks have received Pacemaker awards from NSPA, Crown Awards from CSPA, Gold Medalist Publication rankings, and All American Publication rankings.
In any event, 16 students enrolled in Caire’s one semester broadcast elective. And several months after that they had indeed produced the desired online publication.
It was while working to produce the online newspaper that Caire read Bradley’s In the Classroom article.
One paragraph of the article particularly caught his attention:
Far more meaningful than grades, the daily publication of the KTV students’ efforts provides a steady stream of feedback, affirmation and ownership, while also strengthening their ability to work in a self-directed environment. The work they do on any given day in the KTV studio is informed by their previous work, as the class critiques the published episodes, discusses what worked and what didn’t, and moves on to the next episode with specific plans for improvement. In addition to building academic skills such as writing, proofreading, presenting and speaking, KTV students practice professional broadcast skills, such as media production and behind-the-scenes technology. And woven through all of their work are skills critical to our professional and personal lives: collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, responsibility, flexibility, and the problem-solving prowess that comes from working under pressure to produce a daily news show in a room full of people and unreliable technology.
It was after reading this paragraph that Caire decided to call upon his students to try to produce a digital news broadcast of their own.
The entire work, according to Caire, was student-produced, including the drone film footage of the school that opens the broadcast and the accompanying music.
Plans for the Future
Caire was so satisfied with this first ever HMS news broadcast that he committed himself to doing the following three things between now and the end of the school year.
- Encouraging his students to produce at least three more news broadcasts.
- Exploring, with his middle school principal, the possibility of purchasing a green screen, and using the newly remodeled maker space of the school’s library as a more ideal indoor filming environment.
- Connecting with Bradley in a phone or email conversation to see if she could provide any great second-year pointers.
And what did Caire think about all of this?
“The kids who produced each of these news broadcast have worked extremely hard and they are now in the process of completing their fourth broadcast,” Caire said. “And this in a little more than a month. And why – because they have complete ownership of the project. If you have high expectations, the kids will not disappoint.”