Chapter One

Class Administration

For continuity purposes, the chapters in this book are organized topically. However, there is no requirement that they be covered in the exact order in which they are presented. This arrangement might be frustrating to those who prefer a textual organization where subjects are grouped in thematic units that are taught sequentially. But, to accommodate the major goals and objectives of this course, some adaptations to the traditional textbook sequence had to be made. This course is an attempt to move away from what Desmond refers to as a "deficit model" towards the "acquisition model" of media education, as referenced by Kathleen Tyner in her book, Literacy in a Digital World. In short, it is an effort to balance the educational needs of a "contextual analysis of culture" (p. 131) with the practical and technical aspects television and multimedia production. This process is more clearly laid out in practical terms in Chapters Two (Media Literacy), and Five (Developing Visual Awareness). It is duly noted that these lofty goals most probably will be met with some resistance. Students generally do not mind discussing literacy topics in class, but they are also quite anxious to handle the equipment. Often, they view academic class time as detracting from the limited quality time they have to work with the equipment. It might seem easier just to give into the pressures they place by simply dispensing with the discussions. However, that would obviate a very significant teaching moment. A good compromise appears to be to intersperse short, formal class sessions with practical work and portfolio-building activities.

To do this, a compromise had to be made in the way the course is presented. The actual teaching sequence is presented in this chapter via two teaching chronologies. The first accommodates the traditional academic calendar and is organized for a semester system where students take courses for an entire school year. The second serves non-standard scheduling such as block schedules where students meet for extended time-periods either every other day, or daily, but only take the course for part of the year. This second schedule can also be modified to fit the needs of those who wish to select only portions of the course because they meet with students for less than a semester.

This chapter also serves as a catch-all that ties all the administrative details together. Often, these items are found in appendices of textbooks. They are presented first in this book because it is a Coursebook that is intended to help the teacher understand how the course is laid out and help him/her accomplish his/her teaching goals. Specifically, this chapter is a teacher’s toolbox that contains, in addition to the Teaching Chronology, information on the philosophies behind using the supplementary web site and how the projects are sequenced, as well as several supplementary teaching and administrative aids:

- An alphabetized glossary of the terms.
- Daily Grades Worksheet.
- Equipment Competency Checklist.
- Examinations & quizzes w/ answer keys.
- Interview Worksheet.
- Footage Log.
- Project & Activity Planning Sheet.
- SWEEPS segment Assessment Checklist.
- Scorecard/Assessment Models (7).

Integrating the Web-Assistant

The Web-Assistant presents information in such a way that it can be used as a standalone support site for anyone interested in media education. It is divided into separate framing sequences. The first follows each chapter in support of suitable objectives and activities for each. Reference to the web site is made in each chapter throughout the text, when appropriate. In most cases, the web site provides detailed information specific to class discussions. Each chapter also contains a Digging Deeper section that provides supplementary material for teachers or students who wish to review more, in-depth literature or research on a given topic.

The Lesson Sequence

There are two Teaching Chronology models, but the sequence is identical. The difference between the two models lies in the time needed in between each classwork session and the total elapsed time allowed for completing the projects. The first chronology model is reflects a 4x4 Block schedule in which students meet every day for approximately an hour and a half. These students complete the course in a single term. The second model supports those schools on a traditional calendar. There are several other variations of these two schedules. Some schools operate on an A/B Block in which students meet every other day. The 4x4 block accommodates these schools with minimal modification.

Future releases of the Web-Assistant web site will provide a way to obtain the actual template used to create the Teaching Chronology models.

The First Few Days

The first few days of class are special. They are also critical for assuring the overall success of the class. First, students will be quite anxious to get going on the equipment. However, it is necessary to cover some specific items that, if they are not covered very early, will loose their impact. The first few days provide the opportunity for the students to get to know each other. In addition, the media issues are quite important to the overall tone of the class, and it is very important to set the context in which the class discussions will operate. Teenagers do not innately understand that the specific media and visual awareness issues even exist, let alone that they are something that need careful consideration. Setting up the contextual background to describe the issues is important in creating relevance; a necessary learning prerequisite.

Following are activities that are best covered early in the course. They are listed in the Teaching Chronology but are reviewed in detail due to their importance to setting the proper tone for the educational issues that follow. As they are general in nature, they are not covered specifically in any other of the chapters in this course guide.

1. Assess existing knowledge.
2. Build a consensus towards a class code of ethics.
3. Introduce the technology of television
4. Students establish their own personal relationship w/ the media.
5. Assign the first visual story.
6. Introduce how the Internet is integrated into the course.
7. Set the ground rules for equipment usage.
8. Introduce ground rules for cooperative learning activities.

Commercials and Music Videos as Role Models

TV commercials are suggested in several different educational contexts throughout this course. The most obvious use is in Chapter Two - Media Literacy. Class sessions show students how to deconstruct commercials into its smaller parts is key to understanding how they impose their view on the viewer, affect them psychologically, and create the need to purchase the product, cause to action, or philosophy being sold. The fact that commercials are a construct means that they have something to offer that is much more significant than simply introducing a self-defense mechanism. Advertisers spend so much time and money producing short segments (15-30 seconds), that each commercial contains considerable technique, technology, and transferable knowledge that is probably the perfect role model to demonstrate how videos are to be made.

Similar ideas can be expressed about music videos. They are not as perfect a product, but they do tell stories visually. Teens are familiar with the lyrics of the music and can easily explain the visual semiotics incorporated into the video. Most contemporary music videos are high tech and include several examples of messaging constructs. Students love to watch them, and can be more articulate about them than any example you could come up with.

How to Use the Student Recordbook

The highlighted and underlined words refer to the items that are left blank in the Student Recordbook. Students are to fill in the missing word or phrase to complete the sentences as you discuss them. This will enable you to determine that each student is staying on task. Generally, they are quite concerned about missing any words, so you will be able to gauge if they are at least writing the words down in their guides.

The advantage of using lesson might be obvious, but using them properly in class might still take some getting used to. It is not suggested that the teacher simply read from the scripts. This approach will severely limit the interaction between teacher and student that occurs during open discussions. However, on occasion (especially in the beginning of the term), following the script very closely makes a lot of sense. Students will get accustomed to filling in the blanks in their Student Recordbook.

Each session contains a set of review questions for students to synthesize and summarize what they have learned. These may be assigned as homework assignments or in-class reviews.

The Project Sequence

The projects follow a specific sequence intended to build a knowledge base from one to the next in terms of requiring increasing amount of technical knowledge, familiarity of script-writing, story-boarding techniques, and the production sequence.

The projects are sequenced chronologically and introduced at the appropriate time. That does not imply, however, that they are to be introduced in linear fashion. The Teaching Chronology shows that they are, in fact, introduced on an overlapping schedule.

Course Content and Grading

Included in the book a sample course syllabus that may be handed out during the first days in class and/or during parents’ night activities. It can be modified to suit individual needs. It is recommended that percentages be attached to individual goals that represent the emphasis placed on each one and the relative importance each represents to the overall course content. Tests and quizzes should then be coordinated that incorporate proportional representation.

The tests and quizzes should be considered learning opportunities. Because the mid-term and final are cumulative, the quizzes can actually be utilized to teach course content. A good analogy is a sports team who uses the regular season to prepare for the play-offs. As champions are determined during play-offs, the regular season can be used to get the team in shape. The quizzes in this course equate to the regular season where season standings (grading periods) are to be considered as benchmarks.

The quizzes and exams provided in the Appendix are models. They may be massaged, based on how closely the teaching chronology is followed. It is not uncommon to move some questions from one test to another, or to add questions because it was discovered that students require additional learning opportunities. In some cases, test questions are redundant in that they cover the same content areas in several different ways. This is intentional. Questions may be asked several times to reinforce learning, or to accommodate including the number of questions that is equal to the percentage dictated by a testing blueprint.

Portfolio Assessment

One of the reasons cognitive requirements can be modified to include open-book testing is that student performance is evaluated on several different levels. Projects are evaluated using an assessment scorecard. A scorecard is not exactly the same thing as a rubric. Rubrics suggest that a specific set of guidelines be followed with very limited flexibility. Where there are many similarities, a model approach is preferred. Using a model implies that changes may be made, based on the variations in goals and objectives of each project. Those modifications are spelled out in the Project Planning Considerations section for each project. It is also not an intention of the scorecard to provide the ability to assign an exact number grade to each project. The scorecard does allow you to come up with a very specific grade. However, there is also a lot of room for interpretation. This is intentional.

Equipment Competencies

A second alternative evaluation process occurs in the area of equipment competencies. Evaluating student competencies on equipment is significant part of the syllabus. It is important that students be able to demonstrate that they know how to operate the equipment. It should be stressed, however, that it is more important that they now how the equipment works conceptually. Each studio will have different brands of equipment. Each brand has its own quirks and specific procedures. Students need to be taught how a function is done so that all they have to do when going into a new studio is to re-orient how that specific equipment accomplishes the required task.

Participation/Work Ethic

There are eight projects and several other activities assigned during the course. Some of these other activities are graded; others are not. In order to continue to encourage students to maintain a consistent workflow, they also receive an evaluation for participation. There has been considerable research on separating assessment and dealing with disruptive classroom behavior. The idea of work ethic mirrors the employee performance evaluation process done in the real world.