In 2000 I started a Video Production class. There had never been one before that was to feature a live morning news broadcast. All I had was a classroom and two old video cameras. In the summer of 1998 I did a summer externship (where teachers work alongside a business to learn new skills for the classroom) learning the basics of video production, and my project was to produce a short video to recruit teachers to Carson City. During the of 1999 I did a summer externship at KRNV (Channel 4) in Reno. I learned a great deal about putting together a news broadcast. I also found out the CNN was looking for schools to partner with and provide training. That was a tremendous resource. I wrote a number of grants and in 2000 we were getting started with a video production class that had some real equipment and some real life projects. I wanted to really teach a class that had viable content with career possibilities for students. I wanted projects that were tied to the community so the students could have real-life projects that would let their “voice” be heard. The results were spectacular!
Here is a very brief snipit of what our video production classroom looked like. It was actually three classrooms that were turned into a full on broadcast studio and editing suites. There is large windows separating the control room from the studio. Each student had a job and they communicated though headsets, just like a real newsroom.
It has always been my belief that if you make the learning meaningful and create opportunities for students to engage with real-life outcomes, they will always rise to the challenge and thrive. These projects show that.
One of our most daring projects occurred in 2006. I had seen a grant that was about students raising awareness on driving and making a positive difference. During the summer of 2004 I got together with leaders in the community as well as with the sheriff’s department and fire department. We came up with some possibilities for projects. In order to get student’s involved, I had to let them make the final decisions and take on active rolls in the entire project.
Here is a video showing the work that went on with the students and community to make a movie about a driving situation gone bad. The filming involved shutting down the main street in front of the high school on a Saturday morning. With tremendous support form the fire department, we had two cars set to look as if they had just collided. We had coordinated a full response scenario with emergency personnel throughout the entire city (from sheriff’s, to fire fighters, to ambulances, care flight helicopter, and ER staff at the hospital). We had students with cameras in emergency vehicles and throughout the crash site, even a student up high on a city truck used for trimming trees or fixing electric power poles. They managed to do it all seamlessly, never getting in another’s shots. The accident scene was filmed live and all worked in one take!
And now, here is the video with all of the action. It was shown at an all-school assembly and the reaction from the students was amazing!
Our project placed in the top ten in the country out of many for the State Farm Project Ignition Grant. We were asked to bring the students to a conference in Long Beach, CA to present their project. I brought the younger students in the class who could do something more if they felt like it. Five of the students that presented the project in Long Beach were fully inspired and fired up to do their own project. Together we all wrote the grant. Each of them chose a different part to the entire project. Along with the video production classes, and again tremendous support form the community, they made a huge, multi-faceted project that really made a difference.
Not only did they place again in the top ten in the nation, the governor of Nevada, Governor Kenny Guinn, took notice and held a ceramic in the state capitol where he presented them with a letter of proclamation and gave each of us a specially minted silver dollar with his image on it.
Here are some news story coverage that the Reno News Stations did on some phases of the project:
Now, here is the summary video we made to show the entirety of the project:
And, here is the news coverage of the bigger part of the project:
Here are two very touching stories the students put together about real life tragedies from car accidents with significant consequences:
And this one:
Here are other videos the students created for the Project Ignition grant. First, they created four commercials that broadcast throughout the school on the morning announcements to raise interest for the student body: