2018-04-29 / Insight

North Branch students host thrice-weekly news broadcast

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese@mihomepaper.com


Fourth-grade students Wyatt Oland and Logan Burack work as anchors during recording of an episode of NBE News. 
Photos by Nicholas Pugliese Fourth-grade students Wyatt Oland and Logan Burack work as anchors during recording of an episode of NBE News. Photos by Nicholas Pugliese NORTH BRANCH — The 18 students in North Branch Elementary (NBE) teacher Sarah Hyde’s multi-age classroom are more than just a collection of young students — they’re meteorologists, producers, anchors, writers, camera operators and more, as part of the school’s NBE News.

The students, enrolled in the school’s COMPASS Program (or, Creating Opportunities to Meet Potential And Stretch Skills), which provides unique learning opportunities for its students including multi-age learning environments, accelerated curriculum and project based learning, produce a thrice-weekly news broadcast that features weather reports, birthday announcements and interviews with fellow students as well as school staff.

This is the first year of the program, and Hyde said it’s been a great learning experience for both the students and for the program. “It’s the first year it’s been a project-based learning activity,” she said. “I’m just a facilitator, we started with a question: how do we get information out there to the school?” Hyde said they considered a school newspaper, blog and podcast before settling on a news broadcast.


The NBE News meteorologist, fourthgrade student Joe Pittenger, utilizes the school’s Prysm Digital Workplace Platform to interact with real-time maps during filming, including dragging icons onto the map to represent weather patterns. The NBE News meteorologist, fourthgrade student Joe Pittenger, utilizes the school’s Prysm Digital Workplace Platform to interact with real-time maps during filming, including dragging icons onto the map to represent weather patterns. “Mostly what we do is film a short, say, like the weather for North Branch,” said fourthgrade student Joe Pittenger, the squad’s resident meteorologist, who uses the school’s Prysm Digital Workplace Platform to interact with realtime maps. “It’s pretty easy actually.” Each episode is around six minutes long and is shared throughout the school and to parents on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, where it’s played by the teachers for their students to start the day. As a result, Hyde’s students spend parts of Tuesday, Thursday and Friday preparing and filming the next day’s broadcast, learning about deadlines and division of labor even at ages as young as second grade. To date, they’ve recorded 43 episodes throughout the year since the first production on Oct. 11.


Fourth-graders Adam Bowler, Joel Bruman, Riley McConnell and Sophie Proctor were hard at work on segments for an upcoming NBE News broadcast. 
Photo by Nicholas Pugliese Fourth-graders Adam Bowler, Joel Bruman, Riley McConnell and Sophie Proctor were hard at work on segments for an upcoming NBE News broadcast. Photo by Nicholas Pugliese The job of keeping fellow students on target to meet these deadlines falls to student director Annika Kage. “I keep people on task,” she said. Kage enjoys her role so much that she even job shadowed earlier in the year at Channel 25 to see first-hand how a director handles a bustling television news studio. “Sometimes they don’t listen,” she said of her classmates/crew. “But mostly they do.”

The face of NBE News is the anchor crew, and according to fourth-grade anchor Logan Burack, they play a critical role in the continued success of the program. “We’re basically the main part of the news,” he said. “We talk about lunch choices and guide the broadcast. We read everyone’s script and tie each segment together.”

According to Hyde, while students might have preferences toward one aspect of the production or another, she encourages each student to try their hand at every job. “Throughout the year everyone’s had a different role, and some students choose not to be in front of the camera,” she said. “So they become editors, camera crew, producer or director.”

Hyde said her students also have fun with it, as evidenced by “Birthday Bobby,” a hand-puppet that’s responsible for reading weekly birthday announcements. Earlier in the year, it was a static affair, but as the students become more comfortable with the routine of producing a news program, they begin to experiment, including a more recent episode featuring animation with Birthday Bobby. “We’re always trying to add new things in our broadcast and review each show to make it better,” said Hyde. “We’re evolving all the time – one of our goals is to replace the morning announcement, which would be every day.

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