From WILL - Education Highlights -

Illinois Public Media helps Stratton students produce newscasts

WILL's Henry Radcliffe talks to students operating video cameras.

Henry Radcliffe works with student camera operators. Photo by Michael O. Thomas

Illinois Public Media is teaching students at Stratton Leadership and Microsociety Magnet School how to produce video newscasts for their Strattonville microsociety.

The case of the missing corn snake headlined the first school newscast in December. Student newscasters Lihi and Terry reported that the snake was assumed to be loose in the school after its cage door was accidentally left open. Although the snake was harmless, “it would still be helpful—to the snake—if it were found,” Lihi said.

The newscasts are part of the “media venture” project of the school microsociety, named Strattonville by students. WILL received a grant from Unit 4 Schools to provide training for both students and teachers.

A team of 10 students produced the news show, which premiered during a school assembly in December, after other students reported stories, wrote scripts, and filmed and edited video. It also featured weather and a video story about the media venture project. Each time a new newscast is done, students upload it to the Web, where teachers in each classroom can access it and play it for students. It’s also available for parents and others to see at strattonsociety.org/.

Illinois Public Media’s Henry Radcliffe and College of Media intern Alison Marcotte are teaching the students TV studio production; Kimberlie Kranich shows them how to interview, report and research; and Molly Delaney teaches them media literacy skills. Stratton teachers Erin Uppinghouse and Monty Rose are working with the students.

Students spent two months learning their jobs, and becoming familiar with the equipment. At first, they didn’t know that “stand by to cue the talent” meant “get ready to cue them,” not “go ahead and cue them.” Learning to read the teleprompter without moving their heads left to right was another challenge. And camera operators were still working during the first taping to remember to hold the cameras still.

As they crowded around a monitor to watch the playback after completing the taping, students had big smiles on their faces as they saw themselves and heard their voices. “You’ve really come a long way,” Henry told them. “You should be proud.”