On the set at Coyote Pup News

Reed City students learn to film, edit and produce news segment

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REED CITY — From creating a set and writing a script to filming and editing, students at G.T. Norman Elementary are getting a taste of the film production industry by creating their own news segment, the Coyote Pup News. Robbie Svegel’s class, which includes 16 third, fourth and fifth graders with learning disabilities, teams up with a different fifth-grade class each month during the school year to film the school’s news cast. The class uses an HD camera purchased with grant funds a few years ago, along with a prefessional-grade microphone, headsets and special editing software to finish the video before showing it to the entire school. “They do all the filming, all the editing and they choose the music (as background music in the film). They’re amazing,” Svegel said.  “They have such an eye for detail.” Last week, the class worked with Tracie Koopman’s fifth-grade class to present weather, sports, Halloween safety tips and interviews with staff members about important qualities in a president. They also filmed speeches of two students who acted as presidential candidates President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney. “Every month, a different class comes up with what to say,” Koopman said. “We leave it in the kids hands and they run with it. They do such a great job.” While Koopman’s students were in charge of the news cast content, Svegel’s students were in charge of the production. Eli Phelps, a fifth grader in Svegel’s class, was selected as the film’s director. He was in charge of telling the cameramen when to start shooting and giving the newscasters pointers to improve their speaking. Between yelling “Action,” “Cut!,” “Quiet on the set!” and instructing his peers, Eli said being the leader was his favorite part about the project. “I give the kids advice to make our videos good,” Eli said. “I like telling people what to do.” Along with a student director, each student served in a different role to make the production a success. Two students ran the camera, one held the microphone above the newscasters and others worked on making the set. “We all have jobs,” said Hailee Conklin, a student in Svegel’s class. “My job was to make sure Darren didn’t fall (while holding the microphone), and it was my idea to put the pumpkins on the (news) table.” Filming the announcements once each month has been a class project for a few years. Along with teaching students what it’s like to be involved in a filming production, the project also helps students improve other skills, such as writing. “The goal is to motivate writing by telling stories and communicating in different ways,” Svegel said. As a class that offers special help to students, the unique project also helps boost students’ confidence. “They work together and they teach each other,” Svegel said. “If you’re the one getting help, it’s nice to be teaching someone else. This is a way for the kids to feel special.”