Gearity broadcasts the news
Gearity Professional Development School has its own weather boy. That’s right. He’s Fin Mouncey, a first-grader, and he opens his daily forecast with: “Good morning. This is Fin and I’m still your weather boy.”
Mouncey is not simply reading the morning announcements over a public address system, as is common in most elementary schools. Instead, he stands in front of a green board (a bright green sheet hanging in Principal Katrina Hicks' office) and points to invisible icons of the next day’s projected high and low temperatures, while being filmed for his brief segment in what will become a two- to three-minute video newscast. (See the videos at http://www.chuh.org/morningannouncements.aspx.)
As part of Gearity’s focus on digital literacy, Principal Hicks has students record news segments that are shown each morning on every classroom’s SmartBoard.
She currently selects students from kindergarten through fifth grade to serve as reporters for one week. “This gives us a chance to learn what it might be like to be a real newsperson,” said fourth-grader Sean Egbert, who added that such a job might interest him.
The video newscasts are one way that Gearity, a STEM school, is integrating technology into students’ lives and introducing them to potential career options. The videos also provide an effective vehicle for capturing the attention and imagination of students.
“My classmates are much more likely to pay attention to these announcements than the old kind, because kids like watching TV better than just listening,” said fifth-grader Nya Williams, who performed a short skit on social skills with third-grader Imani Harris for an April newscast.
Hicks agrees. “The students are so excited,” she said. “And so are the adults. Everyone just loves it.”
Hicks spends the middle part of each day pulling her reporters out of their lunch periods so they can record their segments. The video includes everything from the weather and lunch menu to daily news and a recitation of both the Tiger Pledge and the Pledge of Allegiance.
After the segments are recorded on an iPad, Hicks edits them and adds backgrounds (an American flag for one pledge, a Tiger Nation symbol for the other), music and text. She hopes to have students take over that part soon, so they can learn the full range of skills required to produce a news broadcast.
“They are already learning so much,” said Hicks, “from the importance of articulating when speaking publicly to the technology behind videography and editing. And I have more students wanting to participate than I have opportunities.”
Krissy Dietrich Gallagher
Krissy Dietrich Gallagher is a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, a graduate of the Heights schools and a former Coventry Elementary School teacher. She is a freelance journalist under contract with the CH-UH Communications Department. A version of this story appeared at www.chuh.org.