ASB Workshop: That's a Wrap

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Thirty teachers from across the map journeyed to Springfield, MO for the 2018 ASB Workshop for broadcast and video teachers.  After five days of presentations, field work, writing, editing, and the big finale--two magazine shows created in about 36 hours--the attendees walked away better prepared for the coming school year.  How do we know?  We checked Twitter:

"Feeling empowered after Day 1 of  #asbworkshop. Learned ways to impart technique from seasoned teachers, collaborated w/others on lesson ideas & witnessed the magic of a local news broadcast."

"Incredible week at the #ASBWorkshop Everything I needed to reenergize my program!"

"Here we go - at #ASBWorkshop learning from best to bring the best back for our @AquinasNation students."

"@AshleyReynolds Thanks for taking time to share your reporting tips and guidelines with our #ASBworkshop group today.  I really appreciate your sharing Mia's story and Mia's Mission." 

 Teachers worked on four separate assignments during the 2018 ASB Workshop. Edit bays at Hillcrest High School, home of HTV Magazine, were humming throughout the week.  

Teachers worked on four separate assignments during the 2018 ASB Workshop. Edit bays at Hillcrest High School, home of HTV Magazine, were humming throughout the week.  

Coaching Baseball Be a Lot Like...Coaching Broadcasting

We have heard about "coaching in the classroom" for years, so I thought I would try to break it down based on my background between the lines.  I was a baseball coach before I started a broadcast program at our school many, many years ago.  (Don't ask how many--that's rude)

Coaches...have very specific goals in mind.  They communicate them every day, every week, every month, every season, every off-season.  They do not mince words, and kids buy in.  Our goal is to finish the season with a win in the state championship game.  Everything we do points to that.  As a broadcast teacher, are you as specific in setting goals for your kids?  Do you have a solid plan to get kids from point A to point Z by the end of the year?  And do they buy what you are selling?

 Baseball coaching and broadcast coaching share several characteristics.

Baseball coaching and broadcast coaching share several characteristics.

Coaches...believe repetition is crucial.  They oversee the same drills at practice all the time.  Not much is new when it comes to the fundamentals of any sport, and how you perfect them.  As a video teacher, are you as diligent in requiring kids to practice the basics over and over until they become second nature?  A good second baseman knows how to use several different pivots to turn a double play.  Do your students know how to make all the adjustments on their cameras to account for the different conditions they will be shooting?  They do if they practice regularly. not praise what is routine, what is expected.  A shortstop who fields an easy two-hopper and throws accurately to first base for the out is just performing an expected act.  No reason to jump off the bench and applaud.  Do you often find yourself so happy with video that has accurate color and decent audio that you lavish praise on the students who recorded it?  Don't.  Put that stuff under "Doing what is expected."  It is a subtle way to raise the bar.

Coaches...push a team when it is going well, and encourage a team when it is struggling.  I used to be hard to live with when we were winning.  Never satisfied.  That was because when you start patting yourself on the back, you can lose your edge.  If your kids bring in a big award, have pizza and cake the next day, then move on.  Shift into "coach mode" and ask them what's next?  

Coaches...take the heat off their kids.  If a player makes a bad base running decision and it costs us a game, as a coach, I take the blame.  "I shouldn't have sent him."  Your broadcast kids might do a poor story, full of lazy writing or bad video, and maybe receive criticism for it.  You might need to shoulder the blame a little.  "I was going to help them clean it up, but I ran out of time.  We will do much better next time."  Kids can get discouraged easily in sports, or in broadcasting.  There is always a fine line between letting them grow by handling criticism, and preventing them for losing heart.  

So there are some coaching techniques that definitely translate to your video classroom.  It is up to you to decide which ones work.  From personal experience I can tell you most of my HTV students felt they were being "coached" a lot more than they were being "taught," and I am okay with that.





What I Learned: Year 28

I just wrapped up my 35th year of teaching, and my 28th year teaching Broadcast Journalism.  I keep teaching, and I keep learning.  Here are a few thoughts from this past year...

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*Classes like mine are not classes, really.  They are much more.  They are work sites, they are creativity zones, and hopefully, they are safe places for kids who have no other home in the school.  This is true of other destinations in our building--the theater, the choir room, and the gym come to mind.  All provide kids a sanctuary during hectic times, a place to visit with peers interested in the same things they care about.  Most important of all, they provide a place of acceptance.  "You get to be a video nerd in here.  We all are."

*There is nothing wrong with new approaches.  There is nothing wrong with tried-and-true approaches.  The challenge is when to use which.  My comfort zone is journalism, and beginning-middle-end storytelling, so I am not always patient with news pieces that wander off topic.  For some of my film-ish kids, a good story is often less linear, and less obvious.  Subtlety is a tool for them.  So I am learning to be a more patient viewer of the "creative" content. 

* I am a believer in the podcast format.  We started one last fall, called "Bay 11," and I am so excited about this form of storytelling, and can not wait for our second year of shows.  Podcasting emphasizes so many skills that translate to video, but that is just a side benefit, and not one I care much about.  Our podcast crew of four is actually separate from our HTV staff, and I do not expect them to suddenly turn around and start shooting video stories.  They exist on a different island, not tied to our video expectations.  BUT...the TV kids have a lot to learn from the podcast stories if they pay attention.  I will see how it goes next year.  I hope our video is more "sound" than ever.

Have a great summer.  I'm ready for the ASB Workshops--all four of them--coming in June and July.



The One Day Show

Here is an idea to help prepare your incoming broadcast staff.  I call it the "one day show."

The idea is to get your kids to one location for a day, have them all shoot stories, then edit them back at school the following week.  In just that one day, if all goes well, your kids shoot six or seven segments, and you have a final show of the year to post.

It can be a spring festival, or just a visit to your downtown area, where the kids can find unique characters or local businesses or events to feature.  Thematically, the show is simple to approach:  "A Saturday in Downtown Anytown."  Or "The Anytown Fish Fry."  Whatever is going on, chances are, your staff can find seven nice angles.

 Find stories fast in your own backyard for the One Day Show.

Find stories fast in your own backyard for the One Day Show.

The benefit of this modest location shoot is it provides a great chance to let your new staff feel like a team.  It is one of those "bonding" opportunities, but it does not require much stress.  By focusing on just shooting short feature stories in a day, it lets everyone take their time and look around a bit.  The editing, and anchor intros, all the post-production, happen the following week back at school.  The one day show is all about the shoot.

Of course getting all of your kids to show up on a Saturday in spring is likely impossible.  My advice--don't sweat it.  In fact, count on it.  If 14 kids can show up, but eight or nine can't, so be it.  Those who miss out probably will make sure to be part of your next big staff event after they hear how much fun the others had on the one day shoot.  



ASB Workshop(s) Update

We still have openings for our two ASB Workshops this summer in Springfield, MO.  

The Returners-Only version is June 23-26, and you are eligible to attend that one if you previously attended any of our workshops, including the one in Springfield, or the ones we do on the road.  


The oldest, and still popular workshop for first-time attendees, happens July 8-13, and it's filling up.  We expect to close registration in a few weeks.  This workshop has been around since the summer of 2000, and has trained teachers from coast to coast, and from several foreign countries.  It is mainly for high school and middle school teachers, but we have also enjoyed having elementary video teachers join us at times.

So what's new at the workshops this year?  Here are some things to look forward to.

*Returners will enjoy new sessions we have not offered before, including comprehensive presentations about starting a podcast, and about live streaming events.  In addition, the hands-on assignments, always a part of any ASB workshop, will be new and "different" because we always keep this workshop as fresh as we can.  After all, why return for the exact same stuff? 

*The regular workshop in July, which caters to teachers in the early stages of running a video program, but also to experienced teachers looking to re-charge their batteries, will continue to incorporate our tried-and-true approaches.  BUT...we also pride ourselves on keeping the week fresh, and up-to-date, so that means some new content can be expected.  As always, expect some great local cuisine and a field trip or two you won't soon forget.

So come to Springfield this summer.  We promise some memorable lessons, some unique challenges, and a week full of great information, and hands-on experiences, you will re-visit often during the coming school year.

Register on this website under the "Workshops" tab.

STN: My Takeaways

We returned safe and sound from the STN convention on Sunday night.  No gear lost, no kids lost.  So how did it go?  Here are some reflections I have about this annual gathering of 3,000 broadcast and video production students and teachers.

*Energy.  It is the first thing that hits you in the face when you sit down for the opening ceremony on Thursday evening, for the film and "Excellence" awards presentations on Friday night, and then for the Sunday morning closing awards ceremony.  Loud, a little crazy, with chants, flag-waving, pep-rally-style energy.  And that is contagious, and just a lot of fun to see and hear.  

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*At those events listed above, the in-house and online live broadcasts have gotten more and more professional.  Great graphics, solid production values all around.  Well-done, Texas High School, the school behind those productions.

*Tompkins.  Rose.  Huppert.  The list goes on of outstanding, top-level presenters who challenge their student and teacher attendees to think in new ways, and to be better journalists.  Story telling is at the heart of it all, and that is something STN continues to value.  It has since the beginning, and the "Tell the Story" logo remains a staple.

*Film kids are killing it.  Full disclosure--I am a HORRIBLE film viewer.  I have a hard time sticking with most movies I try to watch out of Hollywood.  I find them cliched, pointless, with too much CGI and not enough heart, or they are overly violent or vulgar, and just not that interesting.  But Hollywood better get ready for a new generation of storytellers, based on the creative, captivating work I saw at the film ceremony at STN. 

*Journalism kids need to step it up.  We are seeing plenty of great depth-of-field video, but we are not seeing nearly enough depth-of-story.  Recent activism by teens, and an overall restlessness with the status quo among young people, could (and should) seep into their journalism.  At least I hope so.  The film kids are probably a little ahead of the J kids when it comes to getting beyond the obvious.

*The Crazy 8 contest is so short (just eight hours to create a show) that there is little time for real depth.  It is just a who-works-fastest kind of competition.  BUT...hang on.  I mentioned to my kids on the way home that I think we should sit it out next time, and use that as a travel day.  Rebellion.  They loved the event, and the staff bonding, which is probably the main reason to participate.  So next time we attend, we will be there, slugging it out in the Crazy 8.  

*My kids, like a lot of them in the audience at the closing awards ceremony, gasped when they saw the DQs in some categories, especially the disqualification of the winner in the "Tell the Story Editing" competition.  But I LOVED it.  Good on you, STN.  Students who misbehave and break the code of conduct should be DQed.  Boozing it up in the hotel, or breaking curfew, are not appropriate, and I thank STN for the added clout you give me as a teacher to hold my students accountable.

*No event goes off without a hitch.  The late start of the closing awards ceremony was annoying, but blame the late-night misbehavior, and the resulting disqualifications, for forcing a delay in preparing graphics and script for the final ceremony.  Adjustments had to be made.  So be it. 

*The size of the event is impressive.  It started in 2004 with 500 attendees.  Now it is six times bigger, and with schools around the country emphasizing video as a skill all kids need, even beginning in elementary school, there is no reason this convention will not grow more.  

*The event features both journalism and film/production tracks and contests, and some teachers on the outside looking in do not believe you should have both at the same convention.  But one can actually motivate the other, and both provide teachers plenty of critical viewing lessons.

*Finally, Hawaii.  It is our 50th state, but it may be the number 1 state in STN.  What a fun group to witness, the pride they have in each other's achievements, their kindness to others, that "aloha spirit" they bring to STN every year.  They have some of the best video producers in the nation, both middle school and high school.  In fact, their middle schools kids' work was the most impressive thing I saw this year at STN.  Keep that "Hawaii" chant going, kids.  You are setting the bar high for all of us.     

STN: My Five Goals

It was my pleasure to be the chairman of the first five STN Conventions from 2004-2008.  I was a full-time broadcast teacher in Missouri, running a national convention in LA, trying my best to pull it all together and keep my HTV world in tact.  After the fifth one, I was able to step away knowing the event was in good hands, healthy, and not going away.

The conflict with our spring break usually makes it hard to get kids signed up.  But this year, we are in, and I am excited to see friends and enjoy a few days in Music City.

                                                                 Image from the website

                                                                Image from the website

I would like to share some of my goals for my group as we head head to STN.  Maybe it will help some teachers attending for the first time.  Anyway...


1--Soak up the atmosphere.  Just take in the site of 3,000 or so kids and teachers who are really into video production and broadcasting.  It is something to see (and hear).  Lots of energy, lots of fun.

2--Listen to the messages of the speakers.  Really listen when the great Boyd Huppert does his keynote address.  STN gets some great professionals to contribute--like Les Rose, a regular presenter at the event--and it would be silly not to soak in all they have to say.

3--Meet other teachers, get that "community vibe" that large events like this make possible.  We are all in this together, teachers, since most of us are a department of one at our schools.  

4--For your students entered in the contests, make deadline.  That is goal number one.  Do not focus on winning an award.  Instead, focus on meeting the assignment to the best of your ability.  The thing about subjectively-judged contests, like ALL journalism and video contests, even the Emmys and the Oscars, is that human beings will decide if your entry is the best.  You can not please everyone, so just please yourself with the best entry you can create, but really, JUST MEET DEADLINE, because the clock is always ticking. 

5--See the city.  When you have time, tour Nashville and see what it's all about.  There are great things to do, lots of opportunities you should consider taking advantage of as plans are made for the trip.  

Those are five pretty basic goals.  No need to over think some of it.  Students should be reminded to behave and just follow the rules.  To be good sports.  Teachers, let the kids sink or swim in the on-sites.  And if you entered a Crazy Eight contest, dive in and have some fun as a group.  This is a once a year opportunity.  ENJOY IT.


If I Can't Hear Your Story, I Don't Need to See Your Story

I have written this advice before, but with many of you taking students to the STN Convention in a couple of weeks, where they will participate in pressure-filled, TIMED contests, this might be a good time to re-visit the topic.  It has to do with editing a news or feature package.

The simple advice, to save time, and focus a story from beginning to end, is this:  Edit. Audio. First.

 Sound bites need to be edited and placed on the timeline first in the editing process.

Sound bites need to be edited and placed on the timeline first in the editing process.

When my students ask me to look over their stories, the main thing I do is "listen" to them.  Video is important, but I have to hear the story first.  Sometimes, I simply turn my back to the monitor and have them play the story for me.  If it makes sense, and the voiceovers  and sound bites are solid, then we are in business.  It means I can hear a story.  Seeing it will be fun after that.

Many times, students will return from their shoot and start dropping all the video sequences they shot onto the timeline first.  I hate when they do that.  Sometimes I drop by an edit bay, where I highlight all their edited video clips, and happily hit "delete" as they look on in horror.  Well, I told you...EDIT.  AUDIO.  FIRST.  

It really saves time, because it forces you to first organize your sound bites and write your script.  Dropping in visuals and natural sound is fun, but that comes after you edit your audio.

Kids may not understand at first, but as soon as they edit a story this way and see how much easier it is, they will never again just start randomly dropping down video clips.  Plus, it will save them time, and keep their evil teacher from swooping in and deleting their timeline.