News Club students keep up with current events

Extra, extra! Read all about it! News and media clubs have cropped up on CCISD elementary campuses over the past few years and they offer students a great opportunity to cover activities happening in their own schoolyard.

Fourth grade teacher Shaun Bright started the News Club at Ross Elementary during the 2017-18 school year and has seen it grow to 14 fourth and fifth graders in the past couple of years. They meet on two Tuesdays each month. “I have always had a fascination with news and when a fifth grader approached me about starting a news club, I jumped on the idea,” Bright said. She uses her iPhone and a tripod to record the club’s broadcasts in the kiva of the school’s library. Once recording is finished, she works with students to edit the video on her phone and then transfers it to a secure YouTube channel. Once uploaded, Bright sends a video link of the broadcast to the entire school.

While everyone participates on the production side, the broadcast itself only calls for two news anchors at a time so they take turns. “I use an app on my phone that randomly selects students for every segment,” Bright said. “That way, everyone has an opportunity to hone their on-air personality and the speaking skills.”

Students at McWhirter Elementary are also keeping their classmates informed by participating in the Media Club, which started in October of last year. Fifth grade teacher Lucero Muñoz Raba and resource paraprofessional Angela Cancino-Burns currently mentor eight 5th grade students on how to relay news through video and print media in both English and Spanish. They cover school events and they interview members of the McWhirter community who have a story to tell.

“The media club opens up a space for students to express themselves, improve their writing and ask questions,” Muñoz Raba said. “These are skills that students need for their academic and personal lives so this club gives them a great opportunity to practice them.” During their weekly afternoon meetings, members review what the issues are, what they should talk about in the next edition, and then assign out tasks that include coming up with story ideas, interviewing, recording and editing. Though Muñoz Raba and Cancino-Burns guide them, the students are ultimately responsible for completing all tasks themselves.

“The idea is that all students go through the different jobs and learn different skills,” Muñoz Raba said.  Some students enjoy participating in the club because it allows them to acquire new skills. Others like Sabino Banuelos like keeping their fellow students in the know. “I wanted to join the media club because I like being able to tell other people what’s going on in the news,” he said.

A fellow classmate, however, saw it as an opportunity to brush up on his public speaking skills. “I knew that it would help me with my stage fright,” said fifth grader Jimmy Rodriguez. Muñoz Raba says that they began with a broadcast version only, but then added a print component called “Bulletin Boards,” which they post in the hallway for students and staff to read as they walk by. If there is a school-wide assembly at the end of the month, the video broadcast is presented to the whole student body. If there is no assembly, all teachers receive the link via email so they can share the broadcast with their students during their morning meetings.

Though the club just started recently, Muñoz Raba enjoys working with her students on how best to cover the issues going on in their community. “All this is a learning process for them and for us too,” she said.

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