The most wonderful thing happened in class the other day, right before my very eyes...learning, yes, learning!
For their final project for the broadcast segment in my Journalism 61 (beginning news writing) class, I asked students to rewrite one of their news stories or campus event blog posts for broadcast. Their task this week: Bring their broadcast script to class, record it using iMovie, upload it to the web (ya gotta love You Tube and blip.tv!), and post it to their blogs.
As they started recording, an interesting thing happened: They started rewriting their broadcast scripts. All around the room, I could see students crossing out a phrase here or adding a word there to improve flow and clarity. They scribbled notes between the double-spaced lines of their scripts (yes, there is a reason for that double-spacing!); they tweaked and they polished. A few even said, "I need to start over," and did a total rewrite before continuing with their recording.
One student, who'd knocked off her broadcast quickly during the first of this week's lab session (and who'd stuck around during the second one to help other students upload and link), came up to me at the end of class and said that she wasn't really happy with how hers had turned out and she was going to do it over. Yes!
It was great! I was so proud of them!
So here's what I learned: You can talk to students about the need to make broadcast writing more conversational; you can preach broadcast style and urge them to read it out loud to make sure it works...but nothing beats seeing yourself on screen and hearing your own voice reading your own script...and realizing that it doesn't quite cut it. That, and the realization that it'll be online for all the world to see, proved to be powerful motivators this week, so I'd call this assignment a success.
If you'd like to cruise over to my Journalism 61 class blog and check out the links to my students' blogs, here's the direct link: http://jour61.wordpress.com/