It's News to Me: Using Video Production to Teach Students News Reporting

Dana La Chapelle - Toby Johnson Middle School

Subject Area: English/Language Arts, Media Literacy
Grade Level: Middle School (adaptable to all grade levels)

Overview: Students identify what’s happening on campus and learn to report the news by using simple video filming and editing techniques. Working in tea ms of three, they will select a subject, find pertinent facts, and report a story. Project requires students to incorporate video elements in news stories, such as interview sound bites, reporter stand-up, b-roll footage, on screen text and reporter narration.

Objectives:

  • Students will plan and manage projects with multiple steps
  • Students will identify audience, purpose, and goals,
  • Students will researching and select a news story focus
  • Students will write a script - using an active voice - and create a storyboard
  • Students will develop a shot list, use a variety of composition in filming, shoot a sequence, shoot b-roll footage
  • Students will record a voiceover
  • Students will apply basic editing in iMovie or Final Cut Express to put the pieces together


Procedure:

Planning a News Story (Suggested time: 50-100 minutes)
1. Discuss the goals of this project:

  • Learn the “Recipe” for the news.
  • Plan, shoot, and create a news story.
  • Use video editing techniques.
  • Shoot and edit b-roll footage.
  • Record and incorporate narration.
  • Conduct and film interviews.

2. Show students the “It’s News 2 Me” presentation with embedded video samples. Have students take notes on the main Ingredients:

  • Intro
  • B-roll with Voice Over
  • Report
  • Outro

3. As students view the presentation, discuss the journalistic code of ethics and the following concepts:


  • Truth: Journalists should be honest in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
  • Accountability: Journalists are accountable to their audience and colleagues.
  • Fairness: Journalists should present the news impartially and fairly, clearly representing various perspectives in a story.

Note: A list of suggested websites for more information about the journalistic code of ethics is included at in the resources section of this lesson.

4. Assign the class to small groups (3 students per group is ideal) and provide students with guidelines for the final videos, such as:

  • The video must a minimum of 8 shots (1 for the intro, a minimum of 5 for the B-roll, 1 for the report and 1 for the outro. Extension opportunity: assign more shots for each category or include interviews.
  • Students will create a script for all spoken elements of the video.
  • They must submit a project proposal, storyboard, and shot sheet.
  • The video must include b-roll footage and reporter narration, voice over, to accompany the b-roll.
  • The video must properly use copyright citation and fair use guidelines where applicable.
  • The video must apply the journalistic code of ethics.
  • Students must evaluate footage upon import using the shot sheet and guidelines taught in class.
  • Students will assemble their edited footage, b-roll and voice over into a completed video that should be 30 seconds to 1 minute in length.

5. Reintroduce video shooting tips from previous lessons. Discuss the following concepts and tips to help students plan the production of their news stories:

  • Use a tripod
  • Handheld mics should be held just below the chin
  • Avoid too much headroom
  • Avoid backlighting
  • Use the rule of thirds when framing all shots.
  • Use a great variety of composition when filming b-roll
  • Shoot more footage than you think you’ll need.
  • Write your script in the active voice.
  • Use notes and resource guides for more assistance.


Developing Content for a News Story (Suggested time: 200–250 minutes)
6. Instruct each group to select a story to report that is connected in some manner to the school (for instance, an upcoming event, a change in school policy, the success of a sports team, a profile of a teacher or student, or a popular school trend) and use the “It’s News To Me Pre-Production Planning Guide” to plan the following elements:

  • Project proposal
  • Script that includes the Intro, voice over narration, report and outro.
  • List of 10 B-roll footage ideas (with composition specifications)
  • Storyboard
  • Shot Sheet
  • People to interview (extension activity only)

7. Instruct each group to complete each part of the “It’s News To Me Pre-Production Planning Guide” and bring each element to the teacher to approve and grade prior to beginning the next element.
8. Allow groups time to research the news story topic and acquire any needed permission for filming on school grounds, researching their topic and so on.
9. Allow students time to research content for their news stories. As they research content, ask them to evaluate the validity, currency, and bias of the content they are including, specifically when they find the information on the web.
10. Allow groups time to identify and write interview questions they may use to find out more information about their topic. Ask students bring questions to instructor approval.
11. Students will list a minimum of 10 ideas of b-roll that they can use in their report.
12. Using the information they’ve collected, students will write a simple script using the sample script provided. Students are to turn the script in for approval and grading prior to beginning their storyboard.
13. Students will complete their storyboard, identifying the composition (frames and angles) that they’ll use for their intro, b-roll, report and outro. They will bring the finished storyboard to the instructor to have it approved and graded.
14. Students will complete the following portions of their shot sheet: The scene# and shot #, the location that the shot will be filmed, the abbreviation for the planned frame and angle. Students will enter the “date” and “shot by” areas of the shot sheet upon shooting the shot. The evaluation areas of the shot sheet are to be used after the footage has been imported. Students will discuss preparations for filming, such as microphones or special lighting needed for their shoot. Those items can be listed in the “notes” area of the shot sheet. The Shot Sheet will be brought to the instruction for approval and grading prior to filming.

Filming a News Story (Suggested time: 90 – 200 minutes)
15. Students will practice the various parts of their intro, voice over, report and outro prior to filming. They will then work outside the classroom to film their planned shots according to their storyboard and shot sheet. The use of tripods and hand held microphones is required.

Building a News Story (Suggested time: 150–200 minutes)
16. Students will import their footage using a video editing software. They will then evaluate each shot using the evaluation areas of the shot sheet. For each shot, students will evaluate the following audio elements: Do we need the audio in this footage? Y/N; Can we hear it well? Y/N; Is there background noise? Y/N; Can we use the footage? Y/N. They will then evaluate the following video elements: Did we film the correct frame? Y/N; Did we film the correct angle? Y/N; Is our lighting good? Y/N; Are there background distractions? Y/N; Is the camera moving? Y/N; Can we use this footage? Y/N. Students will circle any problems identified in each shot.

For every problem identified during the evaluation, students are to circle the problem and add one circle to the scene/shot number on the storyboard. The more problems identified in a shot, the more circles that scene/shot number will have. This process allows for easy prioritization of shots that need to be re-filmed.

17. If there is time, students may be allowed to re-shoot selected shots, choosing the shots that have the most circles first.
18. Using basic editing skills, students will assemble their items in the proper order. Students will extract audio from the recorded voice over and place it in their timeline. They will then place selections from their b-roll in the video portion of the timeline above the voice over.
19. Pair student groups and have them review each other’s videos, providing comments on how well the video meets the project proposal and finished movie rubric.

Revising (Suggested time: 90 – 200 minutes)
20. Have each group implement the peer suggestions to improve their news stories.

Sharing/Presenting (Suggested time: 150–200 minutes)
21. Demonstrate how to share or export the movies in the desired format. Give further instruction as to where to save the exported file for playback to the class, uploading to the class/school website or for broadcast to the school.

Student groups can present their news to the class and explain what they learned in doing this project, what they liked best about the project and what they would like to learn next to further their skill set.

Materials:

  • Digital video cameras
  • Tripods
  • Microphones
  • Movie editing software installed on student computer(s) such as iMovie, Final Cut Express, or Movie Maker


Lesson Extensions:

  • Have the class create an entire newscast with several news reports (sports, politics, weather) and roles (anchor, reporter, weatherperson, and so on). If possible, broadcast the newscast on the school’s televisions.


Lesson Resources:



Student Products:

Standards:

ISTE NETS:

  • Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
  • Research and Information Retrieval: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
  • Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate technology tools. Students:
  • Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
  • Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.


Common Core Standards:

  • Cross-curricular - Production and Distribution of Writing # 6; Integration of Knowledge and Ideas #7


California Content Standards:

  • English/Language Arts - Grade 8:
  • Speaking and Listening: Analysis and Evaluation of Oral and Media Communications
  • Writing Applications (Genres and Their Characteristics)