2 Frankfort middle school teachers start student-led TV station

Dave Wonder: ‘I’ll do anything to get kids engaged and get them excited about learning.’

Students involved with Tiger TV at Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankort are seen at their first training session. Pictured is Samuel Vondrak (standing, blue sweatshirt) and, from left, Fletcher Shank, and Amerie Green (sitting in front of the green screen). Sitting at the computer desk are, from left, Dave Wonder, Genna Kruger, Brenden Christoff and Alaina Steele.

Some people stay in touch with their community via traditional and social media.

But anyone part of Hickory Creek Middle School keeps in touch with that community via Tiger TV, a new club at Hickory Creek where nearly 50 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students produce weekly, 10-minute newscasts.

“It’s more than just how to make a production,” said Dave Wonder, Hickory Creek teacher and Tiger TV co-sponsor. “It’s more about how to work as a team, how to set goals, how to meet goals and develop a skill set.”

Hickory Creek teacher Kathryn Allison is also a co-sponsor of Tiger TV.

In an email, Wonder said he and Allison conceived the idea after touring another middle school with a similar program. The production studio was funded with a grant from the Frankfort 157-C Education Foundation, according to a news release from District 157-C. The space includes “green screens, cameras, lights and other production equipment,” the release said.

Students are divided into four production teams and “rotate weekly between filming in the studio, live-streaming district events and producing featured segments for the newscast,” Wonder said. This gives students multiple layers of experience and frees them up to participate in other extracurricular activities, he said.

But Tiger TV not only gets kids excited about Wonder’s video and production class, but it also helps kids find their passion, which is important to him, Wonder said. He envisions the studio being used beyond the newscasts: seventh grade science weather projects, eighth grade Spanish speaking assignments, drama club presentations and ELA class projects, he said.

“I’ll do anything to get kids engaged and get them excited about learning,” Wonder said. “I really feel like our job is to just provide opportunities for them to grow.”

According to Wonder, a Tiger TV newscast is produced through the following steps:

Half of the Tiger TV leadership team pose for a picture after the ribbon cutting of the production studio at Hickory Creek Middle School in Frankfort. Teachers Dave Wonder and Kathryn Allison are the sponsors.

1) Hold a planning meeting.

2) Production team decides what information to cover in the newscast and which teacher will deliver the “joke of the week,” along with other features.

3) Decide on the roles for the week: director, talent, feature content creators, Tricaster operator, switchboard operator, teleprompter operator, camera person, script writer/researcher and graphic designer.

4) Script writer and researcher gathers scores from the week’s athletic events. They check with the office for important announcements and the school calendar for all upcoming events. They write seamless transitions between various features presented in the newscast.

5) Graphics for the newscast are designed with PowerPoint.

6) Feature content is prerecorded. Feature content includes pictures and video b-roll while a narrator reads a script on or off camera. Subjects must be interviewed. Content must be concisely edited.

7) The camera operator makes sure the lights and boom mic are on, the camera is focused on the talent and the talent are mic-ed.

8) The teleprompter operator loads the script into the teleprompter software, color codes the lines, and then adjusts the script size and scroll speed.

9) The two anchors rehearse their script and work out their pronunciations and pacing.

10) The Tricaster operator and switchboard operator load the show’s media onto the Tricaster computer. This media includes promotional videos, the outro and end credits. These operators ensure media is in order according to the script. They rehearse transitions and timing.

11) At least three takes of the entire show is recorded.

12) A sponsor or student editor will export the recordings and edit the footage to include the best of the different takes.