Saco’s Young School Students “Making News”

Maine Public Radio’s Morning News Host, Irwin Gratz, shares how he prepares to deliver news to Mrs. Rudy’s First Grade students

Several great things came together as Mrs. Erin Rudy’s first grade students wrapped up their nonfiction reading and writing units*. They had been learning how to read informational books “like an expert”, while researching and crafting nonfiction pieces of writing. Erin teamed with the Technology Instructional Coach, Wendy Cannon, to help students celebrate their efforts by creating a green screen “news” video of themselves reading their work.

Together, students created success criteria for what it looks and sounds like to read like an expert. They used Seesaw to practice recording themselves and check against their criteria. By using Seesaw, students were able to focus on their volume, fluency and “professional voice” for the final version, rather than being nervous about seeing themselves on the screen. These first grade students were extremely thoughtful in evaluating their performance, some re-recording several times before being satisfied. When students were ready, they worked with the technology coach to record in front of a green screen. Students then used safe search sites like Pixabay.com and PhotosforClass.com to find background images, and some took photos of their own artwork. Using the DoInk app, students created their news report and shared with families through Seesaw.

To bring the idea of “reading like an expert” to the forefront during this project, Mr. Irwin Gratz of Maine Public Radio was invited to visit and talk with students about how he does this every day on the radio. Prior to his visit, Mrs. Rudy showed students video snippets of him working at the radio station and generated questions to ask. Mr. Gratz explained how he writes a script and, using inflection and feeling in his voice, reads it slowly, smoothly, and carefully in order to connect with his audience. Irwin Gratz mentioned just about all the same criteria for reading like an expert that students had included in their checklist! He made the point that to become an expert, he had to practice, practice, practice. “You get better the more you do it!” This hit home for the students, since they had done just that!!

It was rewarding for all to have Irwin Gratz visit Erin’s class. He said his “favorite part of the job is talking to people about what I know…When I was your age, it seemed like it was the only reason I learned stuff so that I could turn around and tell other people what I learned. For me that is the fun part.” This goes to the heart of this project, as students are sharing their new knowledge and skills with others. The methods and ideas he presented will follow students into the future. Next time an opportunity arises to record themselves, undoubtedly, they will remember what they learned and experienced throughout this project. Mr Gratz concluded that this was “a great way to spend part of the afternoon. I’ve really enjoyed myself.” One student wrote that bringing Mr. Gratz was “the best!” The children were clearly proud of the videos they created.

This story was submitted by Wendy Cannon, Technology Coach, Saco PreK-2 Schools as part of the Maine Schools Sharing Success Campaign. If you have a story or an idea, email it to Rachel Paling at rachel.paling@maine.gov.