Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Birth of TT TV

Over the holidays I was lucky enough to attend uLearn, an educational conference being held in Rotorua.  One of the sessions I went to was run by Colin, a teacher from Marina View School.  It was about how the Year 7 & 8 students run their school's TV studio.  Twice a week they go to air live across their school for their 15-20 minute show.  They present items that other students or teachers have filmed, and sometimes have younger students in to present particular segments.

Colin brought down from Auckland a number of his TV crew and they demonstrated how a show goes to air.  It would have required some time and effort to coordinate bringing all the students and equipment down so I am very grateful to Colin that I had such a fantastic opportunity to watch the show in action. 

Over the years MVTV has got more and more sophisticated, to the point where they now have a sound board, Tricaster (Colin described it as a TV in a box), wireless microphones and a green screen.  You can see some of MVTV's shows here.

One of my responsibilities at my school has been working with two teachers and twelve students to put together the Te Totara Times, a weekly school-wide blog.  I wrote about it here.  One of the problems with the blog was a lack of readers.  Good Keen Librarian consistently got more views than the Times, even though we have over 800 students in the school and we had the homepage of the school website link to the blog.  The only time we got a big boost in numbers was if our blog post included video footage, and this was the reason I chose to attend Colin's session at uLearn.

Differences in student ages, resourcing and equipment meant we were never going to replicate MVTV.  However, it provided the inspiration and motivation to switch from the blog to a TV format and our poor Te Totara Times teachers got an email on the Sunday before the first day of term suggesting some radical changes!  Fortunately they were really keen, and so were our students.  By Wednesday evening, less than a week after my uLearn breakout, the first episode of TT TV1 was uploaded.  Casey, the teacher in charge of TT TV, even came up with a school watermark for the show - how flash!

The video format has proved popular with our community and it also makes the information more accessible to our junior school.

The first episode took a lot of time.  Things like finding copyright-free music took time to source (this site is good).  We also had to create the first segments ourselves, although I quickly signed up some willing students to film items for episode two.

Our new introduction, also created by Casey, premiered in episode two.  We still have lots of things we need to do:

  • work out how to run the teleprompter app closer to the camera so it's not so noticeable
  • start using a microphone
  • buy our own green screen material and work out how to use that
  • work out a better division of labour between the students

So we will be on a steep learning curve for a while yet.  But I love seeing the students come up with ideas, like "can we click our fingers, you pause the camera and then we dress up?"  And I love showing them how to edit all the footage together.  If we do this next year then I'm sure that the students will take more and more ownership over the whole process.  It's exciting!

1The name TT TV, by the way, was suggested by one of our students when we asked for name ideas, and I hadn't even told them about MVTV.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Juggling Work & New Ideas

In the first week of the holidays I blogged about completing the wonderful Raising Readers course by the National Library.  I was wondering how I could find time to implement all the great ideas I was learning about.  In my post I talked a bit about time management - "The one that really stood out for me at the moment was about taking time for important, non-urgent actions...I'm going to have an hour put aside every Monday where I will close my doors, ignore emails and focus on library initiatives."


Last week, the second week of the holidays, I attended 
a conference for educators called uLearn.  I attended the conference showcase, listened to four keynote speakers, attended a breakfast session and seven breakouts...and had one weekend to digest them all before school started again.  And of course, now I have ideas from the Raising Readers course AND ideas from uLearn.  Not to mention the constant stream of ideas from Feedly, podcasts and Twitter.  For reasons that should be quite apparent I haven't ventured on Pinterest for a while!

The last keynote at uLearn, by Karen Spencer, provided me with some more things to think about in relation to the choices we make about what to focus our attention on.  Here are some of the things she said:

At times, many times, I think I spread myself too thin.  There are so many good ideas, activities, clubs etc that the students will love but I can't do them all, and if I try to then I can't do them justice.  I absolutely have to get better at making choices and giving myself enough time to work on a small number of important things in depth.

This seems obvious doesn't it but it is surprisingly easy to find your day taken up with things that aren't that important.  The idea about making an appointment to work on important, non-urgent goals ties in with this.

Yep, guilty of this one too.  I can very quickly get caught up in the next cool thing without thinking about the time required to do it properly or what I will have to postpone or give up in order to do it.  A pause is a great idea, difficult for someone as impatient as me but I will be giving it a try.

Note to Self

I sometimes listen to a podcast called "Note to Self", which is described as "the tech show about being human".  One of the episodes, that I've only recently got around to listening to, describes the benefits of "single-tasking" (click here for the episode, start at 5:26).  It basically says that multi-tasking is a myth.  To be more accurate we are actually just rapidly shifting from one thing to the next, all the while depleting our limited neurological resources.  The more often we shift focus, the more exhausted and stressed we feel.  Apparently, if our external interruptions are high in one hour then even if they calm down in the next hour, we will shift tasks on our own, interrupting ourselves!

So single-tasking is much more efficient, if we can make it happen.  Also useful is making to-do lists, so those tasks aren't competing for neurological resources (your brain is so clever it knows that once you've written something down you don't need to hold it in your head).  Other advice was to be deliberate so we don't let the environment tell us how to spend our time, and to prioritise the important things.  Part of the reason I wanted to put aside an hour every Monday to work on library initiatives was to try and take advantage of the benefits of single-tasking.  In fact, I actually decided after the conference that I really should have at least three hours to work on library intiatives.

The Reality

So what happened when I went back to work?  A teacher had trouble with her laptop, I had to track down a spare one but had to find the teacher aides to ask them where they kept theirs as they had moved rooms and then a new teacher started and she needed a laptop and her photo taken for the website and bio added and then we had to order new equipment for the staffroom but the kind we wanted didn't seem to be available and then another teacher's laptop had problems and then we had to swap over another one coming off lease...a lot things that were hard to plan for and many that were beyond my control.

I did get my one hour of single-tasking time, but not three.  You've got to start somewhere, don't you?!  I made my list, prioritised it and did my best.  Oh, and I helped start a new school TV channel, more on that in another post!


If you want to experience uLearn through tweets, I've embedded mine below.  Most are from the keynotes and lots are retweets, I'm lazy like that!