Fourth grade teacher Aretha Perry is inspired by her students to go above and beyond the 6-hour school day. Perry started teaching twenty years ago, and has turned her love for molding young minds into a new creative outlet by starting a broadcast club. A skill for both her and her students to learn and explore at P.S. 117 in Jamaica, Queens. Perry started her broadcast club just last year as a way to incorporate more technology in the classroom, and enhance the quality of student projects.
Perry gets her second wind after the final bell signaling school has ended. She turns her classroom into a production studio fitted with a large green screen, several Apple Mac laptops and camera. Her students file into the room ready to produce their commercials, shows and newscasts for the year.
Her students are thankful to Perry for helping them create television pieces they are able to share through the video sharing website Schooltube. This allows other students from other schools to view, share and praise their hard work. Perry said the students really get so much more out of the broadcast class than they realize. Students that are shy have the chance to break out of their shells by becoming anchors for news casts and actors for skits. They all get valuable computer and production skills they would not otherwise have without this club, and are responsible for projects they make as a group.
Teamwork is very important because not only are they responsible for producing their part of the project but they know failure to do so is reflected on the group as a whole. Everyone plays their part, Perry said.
Here, Perry speaks to TNJ.com to discuss the broadcast club in depth.
TNJ.com: Why did you choose to start this broadcast club?
Aretha Perry: I chose to begin the broadcast club (On The Scene with 117) because of the interest my students displayed in the I-movie app the prior school year. My class and I began to explore I-movie by making our version of the movie Annie.
TNJ.com: How many students are in the club? And is this specifically geared towards your class or all grades and classes?
A.P.: There are twenty students in the club. This school year I wanted to open the opportunity to dive into the movie world to more students who were not specifically in my class. The invitation was offered to grades 3-5.
TNJ.com: How do parents respond to some of the things their children have created?
A.P.: The parents were extremely supportive. There was even a parent volunteer Mrs. Najib, who worked as part of our broadcast team, which consists of myself and four other teachers, Ms. Maraj, Mrs. Dinadio, Mrs. Camacho and Ms. Weiner.
TNJ.com: Why do you think it is important for kids to have creative outlets like this?
A.P.: This club has truly been the equivalent of a career day. Students have become aware of the roles of news anchors, video editors, script writers, directors, and actors/actresses. They have expressed a desire to pursue these careers as they continue to explore their educational opportunities.
TNJ.com: What are some of the projects that your students work on during the year?
A.P.: The students were able to be featured in the following segments: What’s Poppin’, which focuses on different events happening in the school like the spelling bee, test prep, and rallies.
What Would You Do? Deals with the social issues kids face in school; cheating, gossip etc. 117’s Got Talent, demonstrates the talents of the students through Singing, rapping, dancing and other hidden gifts. The Genius Hour, has an expert demonstrate a specific skill to students. Our last segment is a newscast called Hello, which addresses special events of a particular month.
The students are producing projects that mean something. They get to explore their creative side, plunge head first into current events, and get a better understanding of how the world works around them. These are projects they had fun working on but also have learned something from. They have really become mini professionals.
TNJ.com: What do you hope your students get out of the club and their projects?
A.P.: I hope my students are inspired to dream beyond the ordinary. They are fulfilling roles and accomplishing goals at a level higher than many elementary school students. Their achievements prove the quote, The sky is the limit!
TNJ.com: What is your budget like for this club, do you spend your personal money or does the school give you a budget?
A.P.: The school supports our club by providing funds for all of the supplies needed to make this club a success.
TNJ.com: What was one of your most memorable projects you did with your class?
A.P.: The most memorable project was creating movie trailers and analyzing the similarities between our movie trailers and the ones we observe on TV. The students put their all into these projects and so we try to hold our projects to a certain standard.
TNJ.com: What do you and your students hope to get out of working on the projects?
A.P.: We hope to get our message out there to other students and teachers by dropping our segments on schooltube.com. We type in the name of our school once we get on the website and our videos become accessible to other schools. We have gotten good feedback from the Schooltube community. We have over 300 views on one of our more popular videos.
TNJ.com: What have you learned from your experience working with the students in the broadcast club?
A.P.: I learned that when you inspire students they go beyond your expectations. I had one student make me a thank you video using the skills I taught him. I was truly beyond words.
TNJ.com: What do you hope to get out of this new year in the classroom as well as in the club?
A.P.: I am always thinking ahead to embark on a new adventure. I think a talk show might be a new edition to our segments this year. The show will give kids a forum to address specific issues that students have to face in school. For example, Bullying.
We may have students from other classes be guests on our studio panel. I know this is going to be a great school year and I look forward to whatever new concepts await myself and the students this year.