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CPBN Establishes a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab

CPBN Education is establishing a PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab at America’s Choice at SAND School in Hartford. There is only one other elementary school and only three middle schools in this nationwide program, which includes over 40 schools, with teams from New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., South Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Illinois, Louisiana, Utah, Texas and California.

The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab connects high school students with an innovative journalism curriculum designed to transform their understanding of news. The PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs provide an online collaborative space where students develop digital media, critical thinking and communication skills with a network of public broadcasting news professionals to produce original, student-generated news video reports about how national and global issues affect local communities.

Thais Da Silva, Program Coordinator for the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs was very enthusiastic with the students’ initial videos from America’s Choice at SAND, “The students did a wonderful job with the interviews! Please tell them we’re very proud of their first attempts.”

“I have worked as a mentor since the inception of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab program in 2010,” said Paul Pfeffer, manager of education services for CPBN, “ I know the SAND 7th graders will meet the challenge of competing against high school teams throughout the country. We will produce network quality videos.”

At SAND, the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Lab is an embedded literacy enrichment elective. Paul Pfeffer will serve as the senior instructor and Media Lab graduate Mark Yaworowski, who holds a degree in broadcast journalism from Quinnipiac University, will serve as the lead instructor.

This marks the third year of CPBN ‘s Media is Magic (MIM) literacy enrichment teaching at America’s Choice at SAND School. In 2010, the CPBN Education MIM was an afterschool class and in 2011, it was embedded in the school day. In both years, the students gained critical foundational learning in journalism and technical media skills, becoming proficient in writing, researching, video and audio recording, and editing. This enabled the collaborative creation of cross-curriculum based media, a process that deepened their engagement with their core assignments. Mr. Marcus Jennings, SAND social studies teacher for both 2010 and 2011 characterized Media is Magic, “The greatest difference I have noticed is the want to learn the use of technology. We call the children of today the digital children. Truly this program gives an opportunity to expand and explain and live the meaning of that word.”

This also marks the third consecutive year of CPBN Education’s involvement with the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs. Starting in the program’s initial season in 2010, CPBN Education has taught journalism and technical media skills to four Connecticut high schools – Hill Regional Career High School in New Haven, Crosby High School in Waterbury, Terryville High School in Terryville and Bethel High School in Bethel.  

The effect of the CPBN Education’s journalism mentoring of Crosby High School drew particular praise from Leah Clapman, Managing Editor-Education for the PBS NewsHour as reported by Katie Donnelly on American University’s Center For Social Media website, “…it is a well-researched project that held leaders accountable and, says Clapman, ended up spurring change within the school. The piece "reinvigorated the school's recycling program, and at the same time, taught students a good lesson about how to jump start civic action. The students were able to achieve what all investigative journalists strive for: shining a light on inefficiency to catalyze positive change."

Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs combine digital and media literacy, media production, news and current events and journalism education. The project runs from October 2012 to May 2013. Over the course of the project, students develop and report on three topics, using video and blogs to showcase their final products. Final reports will be featured on the NewsHour web site, Vimeo and other venues.

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