Banks students produce weekly newscast

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 30, 2009

Teachers are always searching for new ways to keep students’ attention, and that’s just what two teachers at Banks School have done.

English Teacher Latoya Gay and Gifted Specialist Carol Macchia have joined together to help their students learn to make a podcast.

According to Gay, there are currently about 20 eighth grade students participating either on camera or behind the scenes doing camera or other technical work.

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“These students are from my eighth grade study skills class,” Gay said.

Gay’s students aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits.

“We are also working on getting Ms. Macchia’s sixth grade gifted students involved by producing commercials for our segments,” Gay said.

Macchia said there are five sixth graders involved and hopefully they will not only be able to produce commercial for events but also have local businesses who would like to be a part of the broadcast.

This project has only been in the works for about two or three weeks.

They are currently running two newscasts per week, Gay said.

“Since I have two study skills classes, we show one class broadcast on Wednesday and the other class broadcast on Thursday,” Gay said. “We record on Tuesday afternoon during study skills. We practice on Mondays.”

Students are responsible for working on their stories during the week and are expected to be ready for Monday’s rehearsal.

The newscast has segments ranging from school and local news to sports and weather to interviews with students and staff.

This week, students even had the opportunity to do onsite reporting from the Johnson Center for the Arts, Macchia said.

Gay said having a news broadcast is something she’s wanted to do for a while, and she’s explored many avenues to try and get this started.

“I have always wanted to do a news broadcast with my students,” Gay said. “I spoke about this with length with Dr. Head.”

“Anytime I can find a way to make literature and language meaningful for students and provide real-world connection, I am for it,” she said.

Pike County Schools purchased podcast equipment, and Banks Schools Principal Mark Head thought it would be a good means for doing a broadcast.

“Dr. Head brought up the option of doing our news broadcasts this way since money was limited with proration,” Gay said.

According to Gay, she got Macchia involved because she’s technical savvy.

“I am very good at journalism-type stuff, like speaking, writing, articles and interviewing, while Ms. Macchia is very good at the tech stuff,” Gay said.

“I think it’s a match made in heaven.”

Macchia said she too had wanted to teach students how to produce a podcast.

“I am always looking for way to introduce new technology and software programs to my gifted students,” Macchia said.

“When Miss Gay asked if this was something we could do, I was all for it.”

Students who participate have the opportunity to gain additional experience in English and Language Arts.

“This is a great learning experience for English-Language Arts, as they are writing articles, interviewing people, and working on their speaking skills,” Gay said.

“They are also incorporating technology skills into this project by learning to use behind the scenes equipment.”

Macchia said one thing she hopes students take from this experience is a better understanding of a more advanced technology.

“They will eventually have to become comfortable with using a MacBook, which is what we are using to produce our podcast,” Macchia said.

“As you know, this is a big change from the PCs that most students are familiar with.”

Students will ultimately write and produce every aspect of the podcast.

The recordings are available on the Banks School Web site at Click on Bobcat News WBTV, which is located under News and Events.

“The students also really seem to enjoy it and are so excited about it,” Gay said.

“They response has been overwhelming, especially for our first time.”