Lady's Island Middle School students learn broadcast news skills

abredeson@islandpacket.comAugust 11, 2013 

From left, Trinity Beale and Kirsten Workman speak during a live production of "Cougar Track News." Students in Scott Shipsey's media arts class at Lady's Island Middle School take turns running the TV program that is shown in each homeroom class every morning.

A class at Lady's Island Middle School teaches students the ins and outs of radio, television and electronic media while reinforcing what they are learning in their core classes.

Students in Scott Shipsey's media arts class work together to write, edit and produce news content. That news is broadcast on the school's radio station, by video to all classrooms and soon via electronic newsletter.

"We've got our own little newsroom right here," he said.

Shipsey said his class, which is offered each semester to fifth- through eighth-graders, strengthens what the students have learned in science, ELA and other classes. For example, they learn about the food chain in science class and then create a claymation project about that subject in his class. The claymation is then used in the TV program. He said a project such as that one also strengthens students' ELA skills because they have to develop a script and storyboard ahead of time.

"This approach allows the students to incorporate a hands-on project with technology," Shipsey said. "The end product is a 30-second video written, created, directed and edited by students that supports what is being taught in the classroom."

Shipsey's students create two live productions of their TV program, "Cougar Track News," every morning during homeroom -- one for middle school students and one for the intermediate school. Each show is between five and 10 minutes long, and includes the pledge of allegiance, a moment of silence, announcements, sports, weather and more.

Shipsey's students also produce a radio show that airs on 1630 AM. The program is about two minutes long and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The students update the messages when needed.

Shipsey said the radio signal has a range of about a mile in diameter and is aimed at parents who are sitting in the car pickup line.

"The parents like hearing their children do the work," he said.

Shipsey said he rotates the students who go on air so everyone can get a chance if they want one. The radio station began last year, and he said it has been a success.

"The students are the backbone behind it," he said.

The third and newest aspect of the media arts class is an electronic newsletter, which students will begin working on this fall. Students will be able to download it to their iPads at school, and parents will get a copy as well.

Shipsey said the students get a lot of hands-on experience in his class.

"The students are hardly really sitting in their seats looking at a board," he said. "They're at the computers, they're back at the studio, they're in small groups doing claymation. They're working on questions of the week. It's a very active place, and for middle school kids from my experience all these years, they just need to stay really busy. It keeps them focused. So parents love it. And I know the kids do too because we really enjoy our time together in here."

Follow Amy Coyne Bredeson at twitter.com/IPBG_Amy.

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