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TWINSBURG -- Many remember the days when sports updates and other school news were issued through a public address system.
Dodge Intermediate School still has its morning announcements -- but now a group of students there is bringing information and its dissemination into the 21st century, once a week, with "Dateline Dodge," a news program of Dodge students, by Dodge students.
Dateline Dodge's first video was launched in early November, said Brandy Correia, an English teacher who guides the students as they conduct interviews, plan features and edit the video.
Assistant Principal Beth Mariola said the program began as a way to "do something in-house to convey our announcements" that wasn't the PA system. Videos are created and uploaded using Google Docs.
Correia said that Dateline Dodge began with four students, who used their "I/E" [intervention and enrichment] time to study the greenscreen app.
"We are still learning quite a bit," Correia said. "Right now, we are just using roll paper, a great roll of green paper, for the greenscreen."
Correia said students used Do Ink to film their segments.
"The students edit all the clips into one cohesive broadcast, and we share it over our Dodge Google Drive," she said. "This makes it so that the only people able to view it are those people the videos are shared with on Google. Teachers are then free to show it whenever they have time in their schedules using their classroom whiteboards. The majority of the classes show it at some point in the day on Friday, or some I have heard show it on Monday mornings. These are really completely separate from the daily morning announcements."
The original Dateline Dodge students include Sean Shirokob, 11; and Logan Drab, Lucas Kristophel and Quincy Newsom, all 12.
Sean said one of his favorite projects was a special edition of Dateline Dodge that honored the district's Board of Education members, aired during the Board's Jan. 23 meeting.
"That was fun," he said.
A typical Dateline Dodge includes news updates at Dodge, the school lunch menu and book reviews, Correia said.
"(Sometimes) we just start doing riddles," Lucas said.
"For a prize," Sean added.
Mariola said this was one way Dateline Dodge reaches out to students and gets them to participate.
Lucas said his favorite part of working on Dateline Dodge was interviewing people for stories.
Classrooms made a point of watching the videos, and have even begun to approach the Dateline Dodge team with story ideas.
"More and more classrooms are really watching it," Mariola said. "They are making it a part of their day."
Lucas and Logan shared one story that highlights just how popular Dateline Dodge is becoming.
"When we came out in the hall with the microphone, students just surrounded us," Logan said. "They were excited to see us."
Quincy said the most challenging part is speaking in front of the camera. The others agreed.
"I freeze up," Logan said. "I get there, thinking I know what I'm going to say but then I forget what I am going to say."
Correia said the way the students get around this is to write up a script outlining what they want to say. They also devised their own "cue cards," by projecting the words on a wall so the students are looking up at the camera as they read their script.
"We work in 45-minute increments," Correia said, "and we try to have a video up by Thursday."
Correia said students use an iPad to take and edit video, as well as the tools found in Google Docs. Students have begun to experiment with other software, such as iMovie. Studentw are also looking into composing book trailers to go with their book reviews.
The Dateline Dodge crew has come a long way since October, Correia said.
"The first time we downloaded the app, we were going down the hall, just experimenting, filming everything," she said. "We didn't know what we were doing. We practiced on various students and items in green. It was definitely a trial and error lesson."
The experience has spurred an interest in media careers. Logan said he would be interested in going into news, and Lucas and Sean said they would be interested in the technical production aspect.
Quincy said he wasn't interested in a career in communications, but his experiences with Dateline Dodge have spurred him to talk to his father about his career as a DJ.
Working on Dateline Dodge has allowed the students to hone many skills, said Mariola.
"They work on video editing, writing, speaking skills and interviewing," she said.