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Local Heroes

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Keywords: Interviewing, photography, videography, film editing, writing, English, Journalism
Subject(s): Video, Writing, Information Skills, Photography, English/Language Arts, Journalism
Grades 9 through 12
School: Cypress Springs Sr High School, Cypress, TX
Planned By: Shannon Casto
Original Author: Shannon Casto, Cypress
Too often, children and teenagers look up to celebrities as role models. However, these well-known actors, athletes and music industry personalities are often less-than-model citizens, and those who are still feel untouchable. As students age, they begin to realize that while it is great to aspire to be rich and famous, the likelihood is not as high as they once thought. This assignment is to discover people who are known by their peers and/or communities as being people to admire. It will be up to the student “reporter” to find a person who fits into this category and to make the person’s story come alive through narration, still images and video interviews.

Timeline for Assignment:

Day 1 - Introduction to project, show examples, answer questions
Day 2 - Students must have subjects/heroes approved by teacher and begin writing initial interview questions (Since student will already know basically why they are focusing on this person, there will be basic questions with which to begin). Student should set up interview place and time and conduct initial interview. This interview should be to gather background information and details of the heroic or admirable traits of the subject.
Day 3 - (May not be the very next class day since the students may need a few days to arrange interviews.) Students will get into small groups and discuss their initial interviews. They will ask each other what information is the most interesting, what the listeners want to know more about, etc. This is so the student will know a direction to take for the next phase of the project. Students will then need to check out a digital camera and camcorder and set up the second interview. This interview will be to gather any more information as well as to shoot photos of the subject's home, place of business, family, collegues and/or anything or anyone that will help build the story. It is also when the student will record interviews with the subject on video to put into the project as first-person accounts of the subject's experiences.
Day 4-7 - Students will use Windows Movie Maker to import photos, video and narration to create a 5-10 minute video.
Day 8-10 - Students will play videos for the class. Students will write a brief response to each video viewed regarding their opinion on the heroes being portrayed.
Our school is a Title I campus, and even students who want to take photography or photojournalism or video tech cannot afford any of the equipment. We have been using older donated equipment that must be checked out. So many classes of students must share just a handful of items. This issue makes an assignment like this one nearly impossible to pull off, or at least not in any manageable time frame.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This assignment covers so many of the standards that are to be taught in journalism and photography, as well as the social aspects of finding a subject in the community. The written responses incorporate both English and Journalism skills, as well, and the use of digital equipment and editing software use upper-level technology skills.
The written repsonses to watching the videos is designed to get the students to formulate and write their opinions on what makes the video subjects heroic or worthy of being admired. Additionally, students could write a brief essay on what they learned from the experience and how it has impacted who they regard as a role model.
Materials: Mobile Labs, Video Cameras, Flip Video, Point and Shoot, Digital SLR, Portable, Projector Screens, Microphones, Video Tools, Hard Drives, Camera/Video Accessories, Camera Bags, Flash/USB Drives, Tripods, Batteries, Memory Cards, Writing, Word Processor, Music, Sound Libraries, Integrating Technology