Start a News Show 

The following activity is part of a series we’re creating to support students, teachers, and caregivers, during this unprecedented time. Read more about the project here. If you try this activity with your student(s), we’d love to see what you do. Share your journey via the #Inspired2Learn hashtag on your preferred social platform. 

Created by: Jenna Fournel
Discipline: Literacy / Journalism / Art
Age level: K-12
Time: Generally takes at least an hour per show

Materials: A digital recording device, video-making software such as iMovie (though there are many free apps that do this and clips can even be pasted together using PowerPoint)

Chances are there’s a lot more news playing in your house these days, and as citizens we can often feel powerless in the flood of troubling stories, new recommendations, and daunting statistics. Many families are trying to limit exposure to this firehose of information, but older students with access to technology are still quite aware of the headlines, youtube videos, social media posts, and conversations with friends that make the news of the day ever present. 

But what of our own news of the day? This activity puts learners in the role of journalist, capturing what’s happening in their day and offering a more local approach to news for friends and family. It’s a great way to connect with others remotely and develop storytelling, public speaking, presentation, and creative thinking skills. 

What to do: 

Brainstorm
Discuss the elements of what makes up a news show with your learner and brainstorm a list. You may want to watch a clip ahead of the discussion to provide examples. (I highly recommend John Krasinki’s brand new Some Good News show.) Your brainstorm may include: 

  • It occurs at a regular time. 
  • It has an audience that looks forward to watching it. 
  • There is usually a person or team of people who narrate or lead the show.
  • There are often different stories during each show. 
  • Video footage shows what the anchor is talking about.
  • Show has a name and logo.
  • Recorded in a studio.

Plan
Ask your learner what their own news show would look like. Discuss how each of the elements in the brainstormed list would play out in the context of a home vs. a studio. Map out what an episode might include and think through where footage could be collected. Here are some examples of potential segments: 

  • Exercise of the day
  • Snack break (demonstrating how to make a snack) 
  • Mindfulness tip
  • Interview with a family member
  • Wildlife special (learning about a pet, an insect, or some animal you can study online) 
  • Daily dance routine
  • Song of the day
  • Book/movie recommendations
  • Neighborhood news (highlights from nice things neighbors are doing in this time) 

Have your learner design a title and logo for their news show. Depending on the video editing software you are using they can even work on creating an intro using the title and logo, or this may be something they write on a sign and post behind them when they record the opening clip.

Record
Begin collecting footage, this can be done with a phone, iPad, or other recording device. Try to keep all clips under 2 minutes as this will make editing the piece together much easier. Your learner may choose to narrate during the clips or between them. 

Paste together the video clips using your video editing software or app of choice. Give your learner time to experiment with adding music, transition effects, different audio levels, filters, etc.. Have them consider including something at the end that invites viewers to share their own videos. These can be incorporated in future shows!

Share
After the edited video is final, determine your mode of distribution. Considerations: 

  • Since in most cases the creators of this news show will be minors, you’ll want to make sure anyone pictured in the video has the permission of a parent/guardian for it to be shared. Even if you use the most “private” approaches recommended below, the videos can always reach a wider audience so permission in advance is the best way to avoid trouble.
  • If the entire video is under 3.5 minutes you can generally distribute it as a file via email and this helps with privacy concerns if you do not want your learner’s likeness on the web. 
  • You can also load videos into Vimeo or YouTube and make them “private” so only people with the link to the video can watch it. (Added privacy features sometimes include a fee.) 
  • Google Drive is free and can house larger videos. After loading a video into the Drive right click on the file to “share” and you will get several options for privacy settings. The share feature gives you a link that can then be sent to your audience. 

Extensions: 

If you are a teacher and are considering doing something like this with your class, individual students can record segments, email them to you, and then these can be assembled together into something to share with the class. 

If you are a parent or guardian with multiple children in the home, have them work together as a “news team” to create the show. Note that with tools like ZOOM (a free platform that can now require passwords, a security feature we recommend) you can record video calls so interviews with friends and family outside the home can be included in the show. 

For an added element of literacy, have students write down “scripts” to use for introductions to clips or even during them. These clips often work fine without a script, but writing one will help learners to plan in advance rather than having to do several re-takes. In addition, if you’re using a platform like Vimeo or YouTube, you have the option to include a closed-caption transcript. This is a good idea for accessibility and transcribing the language from the video can be a good learning experience for students. 

Inspired Teaching Connection: 

An immersive activity like this includes ALL the Inspired Teaching core elements. Learners are creating something with Purpose (informing and entertaining others) that also involves Persistence and Action. This is intense but Joyful work. The product as well as the process provide Wide-ranging Evidence of Student Learning. Children are quick learners, even when it comes to new tools like video editing apps, so giving them the freedom to learn and execute each news show on their own positions them as Experts of both the medium and the message. And most importantly, watching their production with appreciation for that expertise demonstrates Mutual Respect. Such a rich learning experience is also full of the 4 I’s, as Intellect, Inquiry, Imagination, and Integrity will all be hard at work. If your learner chooses to make this show into a series you’ll see the Wonder-Experiment-Learn Cycle play out again and again. Each show will get better than the last! 

See our instructional model here.