California Educator

February 2011

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Lights, camera, learning: Students run a TV network LEFT: Falcon TV director and teacher Ken Newton, center, watches the live show in progress next to Hannah, left, shooting video and Jake, right, giving cues to on-air personalities. you never know what’s coming your way”), a feature on pollu- tion (enlivened by students coughing dramatically before advocating bike riding and chanting “Go Green!”), a sports update on Southern California teams, and much more. “I was nervous at first, but now I’m used to it,” says rapping weather girl Brittney Giles, a fifth-grader. “I like knowing ev- eryone on the crew is there for me. I’m having fun.” Fifth-graders Andrew Fail- Community School in Santa Clarita. Each morning — via the school’s closed-circuit TV network — youngsters can be viewed on televisions in every classroom giving live reports on weather, sports and entertain- ment. They are not just report- ers; students also serve as pro- ducers, film crew members and script writers. Perks include attending movie premieres and mingling with celebrities. Even more important, they are having fun while also learning about journalism, technology and the world. Falcon Television Network T may be entirely run by students in grades 4-6, but it wouldn’t be must-see TV without Ken New- ton, who serves as the station’s director. He is the man behind the curtain, in a literal sense, who prepares youngsters for hey’re only in elementary school, but they’re TV stars at Fair Oaks Ranch prime time. And he loves every minute of it. “This program is normally found at high schools and is very unique at the elementary school level,” says Newton, a sixth-grade teacher and member of the Sul- phur Springs District Teachers Association. “My TV crew does an amazing job every day.” Falcon Network, named after the school mascot, was started in 2002 with a grant from Time Warner Cable, which installed the closed-circuit TV equip- ment. In the beginning, student broadcasters stuck to mundane announcements such as the lunch menu. But that changed in 2007 when Newton took over and decided to liven things up with segments such as “Whaaaat RIGHT: Sulphur Springs District Teachers Association member Ken Newton and his students celebrate an- other successful broadcast. To Do Over the Weekend,” “Wacky Wednesday Weather,” “Monday Masterpieces” and “Read a Good Book Lately?” along with the latest in local, na- tional and world news. During a recent visit to the “station,” located in the school li- brary, the lead story was a visit from the California Educator, followed by a rapping weather report (“Wacky Wednesday Weather, changing every day, ma and Ushni Gupta enjoy making slides shown during broadcasts. They love the job because they can be creative and use technology. “You get to show your own personality in some of the slides,” says Gupta with a grin. Students frequently trade “jobs” so they can learn all aspects of broad- casting. Falcon TV crew members have attended movie premieres, Continued on page 37 FEBRUARY 2011 | 25 Photos by Scott Buschman

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