Upper Canada College’s Prep School has long held bi-weekly assemblies in Weston Hall that are filled with music, jokes, news and important lessons.
Now, to fill the gap during off weeks, there are digital versions spearheaded by Primary visual arts teacher Jody Roberts and Year 5 students.
“I felt this digital connection was the perfect vehicle, and I’m so happy UCC has given me the support to take this on,” says Roberts, who oversees the short newscasts with assistance from Primary Division information and communications technology integrator Lara Jensen.
“I do hope, as the episodes continue, the viewers are able to not only see what life at the Prep is like, but also the growth each member of the UCC Prep TV team experiences. I believe it will grow their confidence, inquiry skills and their own creativity.”
While the boys offer suggestions, Roberts also reaches out to colleagues for ideas and checks the school calendar for major events, such as Norval trips, to cover. There’s a shared Google document to add and collaborate on ideas, and there are weekly meetings to discuss concepts, plan roles and confirm shooting dates.
While Roberts is writing the scripts for the anchors and correspondents at this point, the ultimate goal is to have Year 5 boys create all of the content after they feel more comfortable and have honed their skills. Boys come up with their own interview questions, with assistance from Roberts.
Roberts invited Year 5 boys to take part in the digital assemblies before the winter break. To apply, each boy had to create a 30-second video to say why he wanted to be a part of the team.
“From this, we have a great group of interested and dedicated boys,” says Roberts. “Once we had them, Lara and I came up with roles and the boys brainstormed what the roles might look like and voted on which role they’d like to have.
“The anchormen were chosen based on the best sales pitch in their videos.”
The anchor sessions are filmed in Photobooth on Mac laptops while the reporters shoot their segments on iPads. Roberts edits and puts the episodes together using iMovie and Camtasia.
“The goal, as we get through more episodes, is for the boys to develop their filming skills and hopefully do some editing themselves,” says Roberts. “At this point, we’re hoping to teach them sound recording and the value of horizontal filming over vertical for a better video.”
Roberts and Jensen have met with Upper School film and digital media coordinator David Crawford about how they can teach and grow film knowledge at the Prep to support the future growth of UCC’s film program.
The boys who’ve been a part of the project have enjoyed it and are bringing more input to meetings, according to Roberts.
“I love how the boys are taking ownership of this idea and looking to grow. Teachers have come to us to say they love seeing the boys taking on the leadership roles and finding areas where they can find a way to share their passions with others. Some teachers have also mentioned they like how it can share more than just pictures.
“We are telling stories, making connections and being globally minded. These assemblies are really a way for us to connect and also to think beyond our school walls.”