Learning Center Students Shine in Annual Newscast Project

June 01, 2018

For fifth grader Ryan Flynn, the best part of his class’s newscaster project was counting down his favorite sports moments on camera. For classmate Kevin Cooper, it was the chance to interview the Lincoln Titus Elementary School principal. Fourth grader Kimora Jackson, meanwhile, said the best part was being the center of attention when she delivered the weather. 
But there was one thing that all the students in the PNW BOCES Learning Center Class at Lincoln Titus could agree on: Creating and starring in a news-style video production is the best project of the year!
“I love it,” said Kevin, a Mount Vernon School District student.
“It’s so much fun!” agreed Lakeland student Allem Guzman.
“It’s very fun!”  said Ryan, a Highland Falls student.
The annual project is always a favorite of students, according to teacher Richard Norris. Along with being fun for the students, however, it’s also an opportunity for them to showcase their progress in language arts. The project requires students to use their social skills to plan the newscast and work together to create it, he said.
“It’s a great project on so many levels,” Norris said. “The teamwork is a nice piece of it, the presentation piece is important and of course so is the writing. For students this age, getting up in front of the camera is a big deal.”
The project begins in early May when the students decide their roles in the newscast and whether they want to be on camera or participate behind the scenes. By class tradition, the fifth graders are the anchors – so students who were in the class last year as fourth graders have looked forward to a chance to sit at the anchor desk all year.
With a little guidance from Norris, teaching assistant Denise Andersen and other support staff, the students plan and then write their parts of the newscast. Before his interview, Kevin came up with a list of questions to ask Principal Elizabeth McGowan, ranging from, “What do you enjoy doing in your free time” to “How many fire drills does the school have to have each year?”
Ryan, who describes himself as a “big sports fan,” watched sports shows and games before writing his segment. “The project is very challenging,” Ryan said. “We have to do research, we have to practice our lines and we have to practice recording them.”  
Other classmates worked on different parts of the newscast, including segments on current events, school happenings and the monthly school award given to the grade with the best behavior in the cafeteria. For the editorial, Allem recorded a “That’s My Opinion” spot urging movie theaters to allow outside food. Fourth grader Jordyn Frias, a Peekskill student, talked about “Charlotte’s Web” in his book review and classmate Tristan Gironda of Blind Brook counted down his favorite movies.
The students help Norris film the segments, and then he edits them into a 15-minute show.
Once completed, the newscast will be shown at an end-of-the-year premiere party in class open to guests.
“The students love having the opportunity to invite their families to see it,” Norris said. “They are really proud of it, and it also demonstrates how much progress they’ve made in their writing and other areas since September.” The newscast is also shown to administrators from PNW BOCES and Lincoln Titus.
Norris said this year’s students have worked so hard on the project that there have been hardly any on-camera mistakes and very few retakes.
Joked Norris: “I’m going to have a hard time coming up with a blooper reel!”     
News1 Teacher Richard Norris reviews the morning’s taping with a group of students.