At Townsview School in Woodstock, breaking news is available through a daily online news show called Thunder Express. Three teams of students work on writing the script, filming, editing and producing the show everyday with the help of two lead teachers, Robyn Dussault and Chris Belzil.
"Students hear about what is going on in their school from their
classmates," said Principal Pat Thorne. "They are involved in the creation and delivery of important
announcements and events about their school community. Students are more
engaged with listening to the announcements when it is coming from their peers
and they have a visual on the smartboard, not a voice over the PA system."
Thorne explained students involved with Thunder Express learn team skills as they work together to prepare
the announcements and produce the daily news show together. They learn organization skills and
thinking ahead (news preparation in advance). They develop their oral
communication skills (filming in front of a camera) and they grow in self-confidence and self-esteem, while also building courage (putting themselves out there
for the whole school community to see them on camera).
"It gives them
skills in technology, innovation and creation (editing the footage and adding
their own personality and individuality to their creation)," Thorne noted. "They are creators
not consumers, gaining powerful Global Competency Skills to prepare them for
success in the information age. And most importantly, it gives them a sense of
purpose and belonging, feeling connected to the school and valued for their
Feedback from students, parents and staff has been positive. Watching Thunder
Express as a class has become part of the Townsview School culture. Parents are also able
to access the news through the school website, thus keeping them in the loop and
up-to-date about what is happening at school.
Townsview School became a kindergarten to Grade 8 school when the former Woodstock Middle School joined the campus in September 2015. Equipment was purchased
and filming began in December 2015. Three teams of 45 students in Grades 6-8 now work on Thunder Express with the two lead teachers.
The news is prepared during the first morning recess break. Filming is conducted during noon hours and editors work on the footage during this time as well. After filming, the crew begins working on the following day's announcements. Then after school, the final edits are done and the video is uploaded to the school website by end of day.
"We are evolving each
year," Thorne stated. "We try to add fresh ideas and keep things changing to spark
different thoughts and ideas with the students. We have had such
segments as Music Monday, Movement Monday, Talk Tuesday, Tech Tuesday,
Wellness Wednesday, Weird Wacky Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, Throwback
Thursday, Fun Friday, Funny Friday… etc. This year, we wanted to
promote positivity with a Good News Segment of good things happening in
our school, in our community and around the world."
good things happening in their classrooms and Thunder Express is there to capture
it on camera and share it with the rest of the school.
"With so much negativity
out there, we wanted to inspire kindness and compassion in our
students. We want to prepare them to be caring, conscientious
citizens for the future," Thorne reported.
The Thunder Express daily news show can be viewed on the Townsview School website found at the link below.