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Students Using New Technology to Produce Daily News Show, Connecting Classrooms like Never Before

As the clock approaches 8:20 am at London Towne Elementary School, sixth grader Taylor Martinez-Rodriguez, the presenter of the Morning News, is sitting in front of a green screen practicing her scripts. She checks her posture again and the teleprompter begins to roll. It’s show time. Taylor directs the pledge of loyalty on a stream that is broadcast to each classroom. After a few announcements, it’s time for the first video. Taylor emphatically declares “Roll the tape!” And the video starts perfectly on cue.

This “tape” is actually a video that was “rolled” on a computer by sixth grader Samantha Interiano Davila. Tapes have not been used in the news industry for years as technology advanced and new devices became available. And that’s exactly what happened at Centerville School this year. Students are using a brand new system that allows them to use Zoom to stream the newscast into the classrooms. Prior to this year, physical cables were scattered in televisions or projectors for students to tune in. The updated software also allows the student production team to get more creative and find new ways to present the daily news.

Student news service in London Towne ES.

“I like my job because I like working with technology,” said sixth grader Lieimy Hernandez-Lopez. “I experience new buttons.”

Librarian Megan Carnahan has been with the company since it was founded 18 years ago. She says the news has changed over the years and that students are always quickly adapting to the new technology. This is especially true this year as the pandemic forced students to become even more tech-savvy.

“I think it’s great to see how they get excited about something!” Said Carnahan. “Last week, Lieimy discovered something in the software that we hadn’t seen before. It was a way to make the screen bigger for the audience. When she discovered this, she was super excited and called us all to look. I am happy when you are enthusiastic about your job. “

The daily show lasts around five to seven minutes and consists of content created by students, teachers, and staff from across the school. The students involved in the production all have different roles who work together to create the newscast. Teamwork is an important part of making everything possible.

“My favorite part is that every job has parts and the computers are most important,” said Samantha Interiano Davila. “The challenge is to get the timing right. For example, if the presenter says something when she should and I’m on the wrong slide, it can mess everything up. “

“I want to work on the news one day because it’s fun,” said Mohamed-Saad Moataz, who runs the teleprompter.

“My favorite part is the sound,” says Tristan Thompson. “If there was no sound, you couldn’t hear! The tone would be too high or too low. “

Student doing audio for news broadcasts.

London Towne’s high-tech manufacturing has become a leading example within the FCPS and other schools are seeking help improving their own morning news. The three London Towne sponsors held virtual meetings with other school news sponsors and invited some visitors to watch the show in action.

Taylor Martinez-Rodriguez wants to become a reporter or presenter when she is older. She says working with the student news helped her develop social skills.

“When I first started, I got more nervous thinking about it in advance … but when I actually did it, I wasn’t that nervous,” added Taylor.

Carnahan repeated, saying she saw shy students come out of their shell and regain confidence through their work on the Morning News. She says she hopes some of these students may one day turn to journalistic careers what they are learning here. But she also says the news broadcast is a great way for students to take leadership roles in the school, make new friends, and build communities.

“Now that everyone can easily zoom in on it in the morning, the entire school looks at it every day and everyone can find out what we’re doing. Everyone is on the same page. I think it creates a great sense of community. “

The WLTS news team with your logo. The slide at the end of the newscast reads "That's it guys!"