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Lesson Plans
It's A Beautiful Day in MY Neighborhood
OverviewProcedure for teachersStudent Resources and Materials

Prep for Teachers

  • When using media, provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION, a specific task to complete and/or information to identify during or after viewing the video segments, Web sites, or other multimedia elements.

  • The school should have signed permission forms from a parent/guardian of each student, agreeing and allowing the school to videotape their child.
  • The students should be accompanied by a teacher while videotaping locations to make sure they stay "on task." Students should keep in focus with the lesson objectives. If students use school equipment, your permission slips should indicate that care and responsible usage is of the equipment is expected of them.

  • A student should never videotape without permission from the location requested. Videotaping should always be done under supervision, with questions already prepared if an interview is involved. The teacher should confirm all interviews and locations prior to production.

  • Prior to teaching, bookmark all of the Web Sites you plan to use. Load any plug-ins necessary to run to Web sites.

  • Cue the videotape to the opening segment, and be sure that copies are prepared for any worksheets.
Introductory Activities

Please explain the vocabulary words students will be using for their script organizer and distribute the Sample Writing Script Organizer, which outlines a sample script format. Students should be advised that their script is a directional page for their camera person. This script indicates “what they want where.” How they read it, is how they see it.

Script Organizer Vocabulary

Wide shot (WS) - includes the person and the background.

Close Up (CU) - includes the subject from the mid chest to a little bit past the head.

Tight Shot (TS)- close up of an object/scene.

Pan- moves the camera up or down or side to side.

On Camera (OnCam)- the reporter should be seen when indicated on script.

Sot (Sound on Tape) - used when someone is speaking, i.e. interviewee.

NatSound (Natural Sound) - sound from the elements, i.e. cars, birds, rain etc.

Two Shot (TS)- When two people are on camera at the same time, normally used in interviews.

Beauty Shot- nice pictures for nice effects.

See vocabulary sheet in student material for frequently used video terms

Step 1: Please break your class up into groups of four and handout worksheet “It’s A Beautiful Day In My Neighborhood” for each individual (see Student Materials). The students should then designate the name of landmark or location to be reported on, who will give the overview, and who will be interviewing. Each group member should participate in the script writing and research. Objectives should consist of tasks and overall expectations.

Step 2: Discuss various landmarks that the students have always wondered about or know something about in their neighborhood: parks, buildings, bridges, churches, schools, gardens, abandoned tenement homes, streets that were once cobblestone, statues, etc.

Step 3: Discuss important people: priests, teachers, store owners, gardeners, artists, elderly people who have lived in the neighborhood for a long time, building owners, Transit representatives, community board members, senior citizens, politicians, authors, architects, etc. Students can use the Internet to research the above topics.

Step4: Designate a beat for each student to do research on and a person they will be interviewing for their story. For example, "Johnny is going to study the Brooklyn Bridge, and interview someone who wrote a book on the Bridge."

Learning Activities

As the Focus for Media Interaction tell students to watch carefully because they will be making their own videotaped presentations. They should be analyzing techniques and choice of footage and locations to apply to their own stories. Students will identify the following video vocabulary terms in while watching the documentary: Close Up; Wide Shot; Still Shots (used frequently in documentaries), Pan, Nat Sound; Sot; Tight Shot; Two Shot.

Step 1:

START video tape at opening segment of the Park and ask students to describe the type of shots selected. PAUSE after host says “Downtown.” Ask, “What types of shots were chosen for this segment and why? A wide shot or close up? Why was a wide shot used?” (To establish location and setup the story). PLAY to two shot with Barry Lewis the tour guide, and PAUSE when host says “We’re going to walk it.” Ask question, “Why is the host walking up the stairs?” (Brainstorm some ideas. . . this is a great effect for video because it takes you from one location to the next). Discuss with students why walking is a great effect for them. What other options can you use instead of a walking interview? RESUME to still shots of photos. PAUSE to compare and contrast real video to still shots taken from a camera. Ask students, “When would you use still shots?” (When you don’t have the video to support what you are talking about). PLAY to close up shot of spelling the H.A.R.L.E.M. PAUSE and ask students, “Why do you think a close up was used? What did it establish?” PLAY to pictures of the elevated trains video. PAUSE and ask students to predict why this video was used. Point out that the video is old and “shaky.” (Students should mention that video has changed over the years and the growth of technology affords us better quality pictures. It was used to establish the time frame producers were working from.) PLAY to choir singing over church shot. PAUSE Discuss how SOT (sound on tape) is used to introduce an element to the story, for variety and for effect. Ask, “Why is the choir heard first? What other ways can SOTS be used in a piece?” (Fire engines could be used if your story is on a fire, school bells could be used if your story is discussing schools).

Step 2:

FAST FORWARD to walk and talk interview next to buildings. PAUSE ask students to predict why host and co host are walking together? What do they think they will be discussing in this segment?

Step 3:

FAST FORWARD and PLAY to inside of the brownstone. PAUSE to discuss the various beauty shots and have students outline what other beauty shots could be used in a piece (Trees, flowers, oceans, snow in a park, etc.) Ask “Why are beauty shots are used in a piece?” (Beauty shots are a visual effect used to illustrate what the reporter is mentioning. It also gives a mood to your piece).
Iculminating Activities

After successful completion of the above, students are now ready to explore their own neighborhoods and report their findings in their own words. The following timeline can be used to complete a multi-week videography project:

Week 1
Step 1: Distribute the Script Organizer worksheet outlining your objectives and the outline for script writing. Once the students have selected and researched their landmarks, they can prepare their final scripts for production. Their scripts should indicate their selected shots and script in detail. See Student Materials for examples of worksheets.

Week 2
Step 2: Field trip Video Excursion- Accompanied by a teacher, the class, as a group, is ready to start shooting their pieces at the various landmark locations they selected. While the students or the teacher is videotaping, the students who are not involved in the current segment should be analyzing and comparing techniques being used in the current segment. Each of the groups shooting can learn from their classmate’s presentation. Therefore, it is recommended that each student’s undivided attention is focused on the piece being shot at each location.

Step 3: The teacher should use this outing as an opportunity to focus on technique and delivery. If a location cannot be set-up by the student, you can have the student use the classroom setting as a studio, and videotape the students talking about their neighborhood with still pictures as a springboard for the piece.

Step 4: After compiling all video shots, students should select the best shots from the taping and get ready for editing. See attached Editing Page Appendix.

Step 5: After completing this project, consider the following projects:
  • Build a Web site about the interesting people, places and things discovered. Scan pictures and video clips onto the web page.

  • If your school has the computer capability, your students can edit their own stories on the computer and include graphics. *See the attached handout for a variety of ways to edit your student's work.*

  • Students with their own camcorders should be encouraged to go out and shoot their own videotape for production.
Cross-Curricular Activities

Books onTelevision Production
A Classroom Approach (Instructor Edition, Student Workbook I, Student Workbook II, Videotape)

Language Arts
Students can write a report on the three landmarks they found most interesting.

Students can research the growing number of asthma patients reported to be living in Harlem. New information released reveals that Harlem has a large number of young asthma patients. Students can analyze what asthma is, how it is caused, and compare it to another part of the country with a low asthma count.

Students can research and calculate the population growth of different nationalities residing in their neighborhood throughout the last century and compute the data on a bar graph.

Students can plot out the size of their community in square miles, and plot the ethnic make up of their community on a bar graph.

Have the students locate and illustrate geometrical shapes on landmarks.

Ask the students why they think the architect designed a building the way they did. Also, have students identify names of shapes, whether there are obtuse or acute angles involved, and estimate how many degrees are in the angles for a geometry connection.

Students can create symbols they think are relevant to their own neighborhoods.

Student can recreate and draw the landmarks visited in the documentary.

Have students evaluate whether any of their newly "discovered" landmarks resemble any of the European art designs, i.e. Romanesque, baroque, etc.

Community Connections

Social Studies:
  • Travel to Harlem on a field trip to see important landmarks visited in the documentary.

  • Invite a Harlem historian into your school for "A Day of Questioning."

  • Pick an important person who lives or lived in Harlem and tell their story to the class.

  • Research the famous singers, actors, actresses, authors and politicians who have emerged from your school’s neighborhood.

  • Analyze the predominant cultures and explain their roots. Ask the question, "why is, i.e. the Lower East Side heavily populated with Latinos and what other cultures have emerged in that area?"

  • The arts are a large part of everyone's neighborhood. What are the various contributions made by different ethnic groups to their communities?

  • Develop a timeline based on the data researched.

  • Students can visit a local television station to see how editing and producing are done on a larger scale. You can invite a local on-air talent to you classroom to talk to students about the demands of getting a news piece done and all the elements involved of good storytelling (ask the on-air talent to view your students’ finished package).