A visit to Toby Johnson Middle School’s Video Productions class is like stepping into a whirlwind of amazing media activities. Throughout the classroom, students are teamed up and collaborating to meet a variety of production deadlines. Student groups may be working on Public Service Announcements, commercials to promote school activities, movies to be used for instructional purposes by other teachers, news reports for the morning show, instructional videos, documentaries, music videos or digital story telling assignments.
All Toby Johnson students begin their day connecting through media through the live daily news show, First Things First on TJ TV, which, while only in its first year, has already become an integral part of TJMS’s school culture.
Video Productions teacher Dana La Chapelle started transforming her vision for a student-run school TV program into a reality over the summer. She remodeled what was originally an adjoining wood shop class into a state of the art – on a shoe-string budget – production studio. Thanks in part to funding from a Carl Perkins grant, obsolete equipment donated by CSUS, and a lot of help and technical guidance and equipment donations from Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) production manager Doug Niva, La Chapelle’s students were able to go live with their first TJ-TV show on the first day of school. “Without SECC, we wouldn’t even have known what equipment we needed” said La Chapelle, “thanks to Doug Niva, we had a wish list to start with and set out to find a way to bring the needed items together. After we gathered the equipment, SECC stepped in again and helped us to put it all together. Doug spent two twelve-hour days helping me (and my family) put the studio together and many hours since offering technical support and guidance over the phone,” La Chapelle continued. “There is absolutely no way we could be doing any of what we’re doing today without the help and tremendous support of Doug Niva and SECC.”
In addition to the TJ TV shows, students are involved in creating a range of public service announcements (PSAs) that will go out to the TJMS community and beyond. The winning middle school entry for the Elk Grove Unified School District’s 1st Annual Internet Safety Video Contest, for instance, was produced by one of La Chapelle’s video teams. Much of their focus in recent months has been to create winning entries for the upcoming Student Educational Video Event (SEVAs) and to complete a video series about the changes that students experience during their middle school years to be broadcast as part of the school’s Advocacy Program lessons. Throughout all projects, LaChapelle weaves in lessons on ethical and legal use of the Internet, including copyright and fair use issues.
“My goal for the Video Productions class is to engage students in learning new technologies and production strategies that will prepare them for success both in school and in the future,” explains La Chapelle. “To be literate in the 21st century, students need a wide range of abilities and competencies, including the ability to create, analyze and evaluate multi-media texts – and to understand the safe and ethical use of new technologies. Most importantly, I want students to learn that what they think, feel and have to say is important. They have so much to contribute inside themselves. I love being able to show them how to share their voice in such a compelling format.”
As the video below illustrates, there is no “down time” in Video Productions. From a student perspective, the class provides a variety of experiences. As Jessica, a 7th grade video productions student explained, “Video Productions is a great way for us to get involved with student-made voices!” Seventh grader Enshika added, ” I really lie Video Productions. It gives me a chance to be creative and use my imagination. There are no boundaries or limitations.”
To learn more about the Video Productions class and TV program, please contact Dana la Chapelle at email@example.com.
If you know of other school programs that integrate Internet Safety into the curriculum, please contact 2WebWatchers at 2WebWatchers@egusd.net.