Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hitting their stride at RTV

Signs of Success
Today I am home with my son Jack who is sick. After a couple games of Star Wars Trouble and watching an episode of House Hunters International (you like it too) I noticed it was almost time for the RTV News at Cold Lake High School. Our school uses Ustream each day to broadcast our news show. I was pleasantly surprised to watch the anchors Kyle and Tyson present their team's brand of news complete with Wayne and Garth 'party on' sign off today.

Shining Stars Are Developing
Each week students have shown improvement and I'm really proud of the work they are doing. Students this week did pan to keys, two shot interviews, live in house segments, and produced great packages. Both weather anchors are developing their own unique personalities. Adrien is simply known as 'the weatherman' now! Yesterday's newscast was probably their best to date.

While we always have some audio and composition issues, these are items students are conscious of and are trying to improve on. They've become their own critics, and have really stepped up to look at each time they go air as a chance to get better.

The segment that Tyson (2:48) did really showed his hard work. He signed out equipment, went to the protest event and got the interviews. Audio quality aside, this showed he was willing to do the hard work to put his story together. He even called the Walmart store manager for an interview. Here's some background on this story from Global Edmonton. Yesterday he did a live in studio segment. He really knocked it out of the park this show. A possible "muggie" award nominee for September! (each month I give an RTV mug to an outstanding student in the newsroom).

Working on Blogfolios
One thing we are still working on is our blogs. I think I need to spend a bit more time with each student as they are blogging on Friday to make sure they understand the process of communicating their learning and demonstration of the outcomes from our first unit. At the end of each unit I really want students to identify how far they've improved each week and communicate that in their blogs. I may have to change my guiding questions and get some feedback from them on this as well.

We're off to a good start, the RTV news crew should be proud of their accomplishments so far!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

One Year Later...

Note: I started this post over a year ago after listening to Brian Crosby speak. I've mulled over it, and updated much of it. What is in italics is what I wrote originally. What follows is my current situation and how I'm going to address these cold hard truths about my teaching.

This is going to be a blog post with two purposes. A serious look in the mirror at how I teach multimedia, and how I have been doing things for the past 3 years. Some of it is going to be BRUTALLY honest. ALL of it is going to be for the purpose of reflecting and making my class a more engaging place to be for students.

I went to ISTE in Denver this year with some colleagues. After all the sessions I went to, it was TedXDenverEd that stood out as the highlight for me. One talk in particular from Brian Crosby has completely transformed my outlook on education. I think that after 3 years of doing things pretty much the same way it's time to face some hard facts.

Fact 1: After 3 years of teaching multimedia, concentrating on video arts, I feel my program is stagnant and is often boring for students. Those who are intrinsically motivated to create video projects will always do well, but usually there are only 4-5 true "AV Geeks" in my classes each semester.

Fact 2: I have struggled with assessment in video arts. I don't know if I have all the answers yet. Developing quality assessments for projects is tough. Getting buy-in and getting students to be active participants in the process and stages of their own learning is a dream of many educators. Students know the game of school too well...

Fact 3: Students have been 'going through the motions' in my class and don't feel connected to the projects they are working on. New project ideas need to be integrated. 

Wow. There it is. Here's some thoughts about these three statements 1 year later.

What Are You Excited About This Year?
Stagnant Classroom? Get a project. Last year I started RTV with my students. I took over my media arts class and made it happen. It's going even better this year. I believe this made my 2010-2011 school year. I dove head first into an experiment that was bumpy but rewarding for myself and most importantly my students. RTV is now running quite smoothly with some key changes and I look forward to the work that we will do in the 'newsroom'.

However, I do need to shake things up this year. This is why I'm going to introduce something totally different than I've done before: 3D modelling and printing. Starting in November I'm diving into uncharted territory and going to capitalize on students' inner child by letting them learn about design, and then actually getting a tangible plastic model of what they have created in Google Sketchup and other open source software.

Assessment Challenges Ahead
With my RTV students all demonstration of their competencies will come in the form of reflections on their blogs. Assignments are given with the outcomes at the beginning of the project, and student will be asked to give evidence from their project work, team work when creating the daily news, and their own research and investigations. An ongoing part of my life is working on this.

Connections to the Projects
This is one I am still working on. How do I make it real in the confines of a school. People tout about 'real world' all the time in education, but very few actually do it and do it well. In previous semesters we've worked with our Peace Officers to make PSA style videos and we've even editing HD footage of a professional commercial, but all the 'real world' projects I threw at students still seemed a bit contrived. One way of connecting students to projects is for them to guide their own learning in areas of interest. This idea comes from some posts I've read about Google's 20% time. What if I gave my students Friday to work on multimedia projects that they develop, set goals and work towards achieving? I think this will be another post unto itself.

So there you have it. Brutally honest, but with excitement in my words, I'm looking forward to dealing with these 'truths' this year. It's kind of neat to have this post sit for a year and now be able to write back to myself about what I've done to work on each "fact". 

BTW- How could you incorporate 20% time into your classroom?


My Response To

  1. Jared Nichol
    on Sep 25th, 2011
    @ 11:25 am:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    While I do understand that principals are under enormous pressures from many different angles it seems to me that your frustrations about Facebook are from primarily negative experiences.

    Students who use Facebook to bully and harass others should be dealt with strongly and that is covered in your discipline policy somewhere at the school or district level. Or even the police if needed.

    No doubt students and parents misuse Facebook in ways to slam teachers and schools on a regular basis. Is this any different than the coffee crowd getting together to complain? The coffee crowd is now on Facebook. Let’s meet them online instead of hearing the gossip at PTA meetings and in the stands at basketball games.

    If you were my principal I’d want you to embrace Facebook as means of positively promoting the school with our own school page, and working with teachers to reach students with their own class pages.

    Fscebook is where students and parents are. If you model appropriate use of it from the school it sends a message to all in your community. Get parents to post comments on the wall about he awesome things they think about your school.

    It seems a shame to dismiss Facebook like this.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The 'Formative' Newsroom

First post of the year. Welcome back y'all.

There are some major changes in store for RTV. First and foremost I got my proverbial crap together and purged all my old useless resources that I had and changed my classroom into a meaner, cleaner, news making machine!

But now to the good stuff. Once again, I'm turning my class upside down and starting from scratch with a totally different approach. I HOPE that with the help of my tweeps and my assessment gurus on call that I can help my students to the next level. What is that level? I hope a group of students that are more purposeful and reflective about their work.

Here's the plan.

Where do I Start? I'm new!
Students in RTV Broadcasting will be in one of three levels. These are based on the Alberta Education CTS modules at 1000, 2000 or 3000 levels. Newbs come in doing the lower modules and work their way up.

Two Teams
Students have been placed into two teams. Team Black and Team Gold. It's actually Team Black vs. Team Gold. I would like to have a little friendly rivalry to push effort and help motivate them a bit. Maybe vote off a students at the end of each week like Hell's Kitche
n (kidding). There is a good mix of 1000, 2000 and 3000 level students on each team. (10, 20, 30 in my class).

Are you ready for a Challenge?
On our class wiki each week, students will be given a challenge. These challenges are related to a job in the newsroom and linked from the curriculum. Students will have to work with their team to get the news done as well as complete the challenge at their level. The teams will be given a challenge for the week with instructions for what I'm looking for in the newscasts. We aren't going to be good at the beginning, but we will be constantly working to
be better.

Where do we get the time?
Here's what is new for me. Last year was a crazy pace for our news team. It was time to switch it up. Instead of rushing to get things done daily, each team will only do two newscasts a week. We flipped to see who was going to go first. Team Black starts tomorrow. I have done this to allow teams to have a full day in between to prepare graphics, stories, do editing, promotions, and anything else I throw at them.

When do we get the time to stop and THINK?!
I didn't give students the number one thing they were asking for and that was TIME. So, I'm going to give it to them, but they need to be accountable for this time. Several thing will happen with this time, and most of it is on me. I will sit down with the team after each newscast and give them time to talk about how their efforts ahead of the newscast and during the newscasts contributed to the quality of product we saw broadcast that day. This is where I can give my feedback and talk to individuals about changes they need and to see how their stories and newscast will change for the next day. They will then get the rest of the day to prepare in their team.

The Director will watch me run the first post-mortem of the week and it will be his or her job to run the second one with me present. By the end of the first month I hope that I will only be a fly on the wall in that post-mortem meeting, with small additions to help refocus on the challenges and outcomes.

Reflection Fridays. Putting it all Together.
I've pulled newscasts from Fridays. We have many Fridays off in our district as it is, and I want students to have a showcase of their learning from the beginning of the semester to the end. That's why on Friday they will blog and have lots of ammo to show evidence of their learning.

Here's an example of a beginner level students challenge for the week. I will be showing them about "streeter interviews" and they will pair up with 20-level students to complete a news package. Their challenge is to create the lower third identifiers and tell me why they have
chosen effective fonts and contrasting graphics:

Assignment 2- Our First Week of Broadcasts

Due: Sept 9 by the end of class

Team Challenge: Add lower third text to news broadcast and packages

Outcome: describe the impact of each element on the visual message; e.g., line, shape (2D) or form (3D),

colour, texture, depth (perspective), light, direction (motion), mass (visual weight), tone (black

and white) or value (colour), space (positive and negative)

Outcome: Discuss the use of the elements and principles of design in purposeful text creation; e.g., attention-getting text versus readable text.

1. Read up on what the priniciples and elements of design are here.

2. Read up on font terms. What type of font did your team choose and why?

(capline, topline, midline, baseline, beardline, serif, san serif, ascender, descender, bowl, counter)

3. Comment on the font choice that your team has made. What characteristics of your font choice make it appealing for the news? Use font terminology to explain. How is readability of your text? What other font could you choose? Share it in your post.

3. How can you take what you learned about the priniciples and elements of design and apply them to the text and lower thirds on the news? Give an example of your Team's Text Graphics from this week (photo, video) Embed it into your blog. Evaluate your team's graphics. What needs to improve?

4. How was your first team debrief? What are your team's strengths that you will be building upon for next week?

5. What are you wanting to do to improve personally next week?

6. Share the resources you have found with us in your blog post at the end of the post. Embed the links in text. (I'll show you how).

More contacts, more feedback.

I'm excited will have so many chances to give feedback to students. From their individual packages, to team challenges, to post-portems, to helping one on one with setup/teardown, I hope students will really be thinking about their work each day as a way to meet the challenge and the outcomes. I'll probably need some advice about their weekly blogs so they don't get too repetitive in nature and so their summative reflections remain purposeful and deliberate.

Also another thought for my next post: What if my students can demonstrate that they have achieved or exceeded the outcome through their daily work and reflections? What does an 84% reporter look like? Why is there a mark needed if the student communicates effectively that they know what they know? What happens if a student "doesn't demonstrate" an outcome in the first unit, but does in our second? Shouldn't their mark change for the first?

Your thoughts on the two team idea? Days dedicated in the week for preparation and reflection for the teams?