Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Number a Television Episode... I Mean Show [Video]

This will surely go down as my most inspired post ever, surpassing even the popularity of my legendary diatribe on ISO dating standards.

Classroom Close-up, NJ episode 1209 aired this past weekend on NJTV. I didn't even know our show had episode numbers until I saw it listed that way on the NJTV website. The "12" stands for "2011-12 season" and the "09" is the current season episode number (since this is show 9). On all the paperwork I get for the show we do it the opposite way, the episode number followed by the year. We also use the first year of the current season, so we would call this Show 09-11. I've noticed we also tend to use the word "show" vs "episode", which I guess makes sense, since our show isn't really episodic (though I am currently working on a two-parter).

Watch Reading is Key Ep. 1209 on PBS. See more from CLASSROOM CLOSEUP.

For those of you captivated by this production minutia, we also use a letter to denote the individual segments. For example, my story in this episode, "Teaching From Space", was package 09B-11. Coincidentally, it's the second package in the show, but I don't think the letters really denote the order of the episode. My stories usually seem to be "B" no matter where they appear in the show. Though apparently in the show's online video library, we call this story 2011-12-9-B.

What are you waiting for? Go check out the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! And while you're here, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How to Pack 200 Food Baskets in One Hour

Like most towns in New Jersey (and I'm sure other states), people in Princeton love to talk about high property taxes. This almost always turns into a discussion about school taxes (in NJ, school taxes are included on your property tax bill, and are usually the largest item on that bill). On occasion, I run across the opinion that people who don't have kids in the schools shouldn't have to pay school taxes. I'm not going to bother explaining how that would obliterate public education, but I have noticed that usually when I hear this opinion, it's coming from a senior citizen. I know financial challenges drive this line of thought, but it still bums me out when I think about animosity existing between the school systems and some members of the senior community.

Which leads me to why I thought the Thanksgiving food drive we covered this week at Manchester Township High School for Classroom Close-up, NJ was great.

Packing 200 food baskets in record time.
You see, Manchester has an Intergenerational Committee of senior citizens that gets involved with the schools and was there to help the students pack food baskets for area families in need. It was a chance for the senior citizens to see the school's best and brightest in action, and a chance for students to interact with a group of people they might not get to otherwise. With the largest turn-out of volunteers ever, and assembly line precision, the group made over 200 baskets in about an hour.

The "Helping Hands for Hunger" story, which is also a story about Manchester Township High School's Peer Leadership Program, will premiere on February 5, 2011 on NJTV.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you waiting for? Go check out the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! And while you're here, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Where Did All the Leaves Go?

Where did all the leaves go?
I really need to rake my yard. Well, not really a yard, more like the sidewalk and alley. I don't even have any trees, but somehow I get all my neighbor's leaves.

Seems like it was only a few weeks ago I was enjoying a spring afternoon on the Upper Saddle River while we taped the "River Day" story that appeared in this week's episode of Classroom Close-up, NJ.

Watching the segment, I'm reminded how much I love shooting outdoors. No lights needed and beautiful backgrounds supplied by mother nature. All the leaves were still on branches.

In case you missed all three of yesterday's airings, here it is online. You can also watch it again in HD this Saturday at 5:30 a.m. on NJTV (or Tivo it if you want to sleep in).

What are you waiting for? Go check out the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! And while you're here, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Did You Know Our Show Has Its Own Paparazzo?

Interviewing students about magnetism
One of the neat things about Classroom Close-up, NJ shoots is that we usually have a photographer along with us. Most of the time (but not always), that photographer is the show's executive producer, Wanda Swanson. Her photos get posted on the show's website, facebook page, and sometimes even end up on air as part of the finished package.

Here are some of the photos Wanda took when we went to Mountview Road Elementary School in Hanover Township to tape a story called, "Teaching From Space". It's about five educators who participated in NASA's zero gravity flight program and are bringing the experience into the classroom.

Teachers with the right stuff
Magnet races
More magnetism experiments
No, we didn't go on the flight. This is a picture of a picture.

The "Teaching From Space" story will premiere on the Dec 11 episode of Classroom Close-up, NJ on NJTV. If you want to see all the photos from this shoot (and many others), you can find them on the show's facebook page.

What are you waiting for? Go check out the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! And while you're here, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Jersey's "Week of Respect" [Video]

Ridgewood Avenue School's Character Education Committee
This week, New Jersey schools held the first ever "Week of Respect" as mandated by the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights. Schools around the state spent the week teaching about preventing harassment, intimidation, and bullying.

I have to say, I'm impressed at the timing of some our episodes. With so many stories, I'm sure it can't be easy for our executive producer to make segments that we shoot months in advance coincide with current events, especially this season with the switch to a new network. Case in point, this week's episode of Classroom Close-up, NJ kicks off with the "Block the Bully" story we taped at Ridgewood Avenue School earlier this year. Good timing.

You can catch this episode on NJTV in HD this Sunday at 6:30 AM, 12:30 PM, and 7:30 PM. And as always, you can watch online.

What are you waiting for? Go check out the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! And while you're here, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Best #ePatCon Video Ever, Am I Doing It All Wrong?

epatient Dave
Mark is the tall guy, third from left.
I've had the good fortune to do video work for e-Patient Connections each of the three years Krū Research has run the conference. This has ranged from creating promos, recording presentations, making a short documentary, and even live streaming part of this year's conference (which I'll write about in forthcoming, nerdy, technical post). Needless to say, they're a valuable client that spends money on video. (In case you're wondering, #ePatCon is the conference's Twitter hashtag)

With that said, I recently watched the best video ever made about the conference. I didn't make it and it didn't cost Krū Research a dime. Mark S. King made it for his blog, My Fabulous Disease.

With apologies to all my video production and photography pals who mock Flip and iPhone cameras, this is a perfect of example of how content always trumps technology. To be fair, I don't know what Mark shot this with (I didn't see anyone lugging around an ENG package at the conference) and he's obviously got editing chops to go with his writing skills. And while I know the term is becoming cliche, the authenticity is what makes his video great. He was part of the event, not just there to make a video. It also doesn't hurt that he's funny, I especially like how he pokes fun at the con's techno-serious promo. Compared to Mark's coverage of the event, the little documentary we produced back in 2009 is positively contrived.

Mark's video is great and it really has me rethinking my approach to covering conferences. How can the little pseudo-brand-journalism docs I've been producing ever live up to the honesty of pieces like this one? Maybe it would be better to just do straight up documentation and leave the synthesis up to the audience, bloggers, and journalists who have some emotional investment in the story. Maybe I just need to work harder to get to the heart of these stories.

I'd love to get some comments from the attendees of this event or any other conferences I've been at recently. Would you prefer we just stuck to showing the talks and slides and leave the analysis up to you?

You can read Mark's entire post about e-Patient Connections over at My Fabulous Disease. If you're interested in all things e-Patient and health 2.0, be sure to follow Kru Research's blog, The Patient Will See You Now. And while you're here, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Really, I'm Not Posting This Just to Suck Up to My Tribe

My blog tends to be a little self-centric, hence the unimaginative title, "Adam Bauser's Blog". So I figured why not do something a little different and share this video from Rich Renner, one of my colleagues on Classroom Close-up, NJ. Rich is a pretty great producer, he's won some Emmys and stuff.

I happened to see this segment he produced pop-up in the Google News feed I have set-up to look for references to the show. It's about math (one of my pseudo-specialities these days) and Survivor (a show I still love). Enjoy.

I was going to post this last Tuesday, but then I realized it was from this week's episode and wasn't scheduled to air on NJTV until today, and I didn't want to be Mr. Spoiler.

(Now Rich, as we discussed, posting this does assure me your vote at final tribal, right?)

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Did I Mention That Our Show Was Still on TV?

How is it possible that we're already three weeks into the fall TV season?

Just in case any uncertainty remained, Classroom Close-up, NJ, is now a regular part of the NJTV lineup. The new air times are 6:30 AM, 12:30PM, and 7:30PM on Sundays. (For all you insomniacs, the previous week's episode also re-airs on Saturday at 5:30AM).

Show 3 premiered this past weekend, and included the story we produced about student's from High Point Regional High School and their invention to prevent the formation of bedsores.

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How to Describe the Sad Part Without Showing It

An image from the book, FIREBOAT: The Heroic Adventures
of the John J. Harvey that is used as part of NJ's 9/11 curriculum
Normally, I'd refrain from posting a link to an episode of Classroom Close-up, NJ before it airs, but since this one has been online for a few weeks, I'm going to make an exception. This is the first episode of the new season, which I think is going to premiere on NJTV on September 11. The first segment is the story we produced about New Jersey's 9/11 curriculum, which has been getting some media attention due to the upcoming tenth anniversary of the attacks.

Definitely some challenges in taping and editing this one which I think the student in the intro sums up pretty well when she says, "It's trying to describe the sad part without showing it."

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The YouTube Remake Method. Homage or Just Idea Theft?

Everyone knows the proverbial expression, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I prefer this one I picked up from one of my professors back at BGSU:

"If you see something great, steal it and make it your own."

I think about this particular catchphrase whenever I'm working on the annual promotional videos for e-Patient Connections, which are always intentional remakes of other popular web vids. Here's the video we just put out for this year's conference coming up in September.

And here's the video that inspired it:

Mimicking this thing wasn't as simple as it looked. Unlike a lot of other YouTube remakes, we didn't just lift the music from the original and cut new pictures on top of it because that would be copyright infringement (which really is stealing). An original music track was commissioned for our version of the ad and while it's very, very similar to the original, it wasn't beat-for-beat the same. I actually kind of like the track on our video better. (Which is good, because after putting this together, it's stuck in my brain forever.)

As I said, this isn't the first time we've employed the remake method. Here are the ads we did in 2009 and 2010 with their original inspirations, both of which were YouTube remakes of other popular videos.

The RemakeThe Inspiration
The Future of Patients

The Future of Publishing

The RemakeThe Inspiration
e-Patient Revolution
 Social Media in Healthcare

Personally, I think the 2009 video, "e-Patient Revolution", while certainly inspired, is a pretty original piece.

What do you think? Is the YouTube Remake Method honest homage or the equivalent of video plagiarism?

While you're here, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Jersey Public TV Will Now Broadcast from Tokyo and Feature Frequent David Bowie Appearances?


He doesn't know where he's 
going from here, but he promises 
it won't be boring.
"Thanks, New Jersey."

That was NJN Senior Political Correspondent Michael Aron's sign off last night as he reported live from the State House after a senate measure to stop the transfer of NJN to WNET failed in a 20-19 vote.

Beginning Friday, July 1, NJN will be replaced by NJTV, the new public television network for the state of New Jersey operated by WNET Channel 13 in New York. I'm definitely going to miss NJN. I've truly enjoyed the opportunity to work with the staff there. It has, without a doubt, been one of the best experiences I've had as a freelancer and of my career in general. 

I'll spare you a lengthy recap of this saga since it's been covered in great detail elsewhere. Instead I'll do that lazy blogger thing where I just link to other articles. Here's some tweets:

I'm eager to see where public broadcasting in NJ goes from here. I'm especially anxious to find out where you'll be able to watch Classroom Close-up, NJ this fall. The series had been a co-production between New Jersey Network and the New Jersey Education Association.

I'm also hoping that NJTV will surprise its critics and put up a good showing for public television in the Garden State (as I suspect they will). In my eagerness to know more, I did a little Googling last night to see if I could turn up any new info about NJTV. This is what turned up when I searched for "NJTV" on YouTube:

I'm absolutely certain that video has anything to do with New Jersey or public television. If anyone knows what the heck that was, please tell me.

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Story About the Healthcare System, Family, Art, and Patient Rights [Video]

Regina Holliday
Regina Holliday tells her story at e-Patient Connections 2010.
I just started working on a promo video for e-Patient Connections 2011. This year, my goal is to get some live streaming coming out of the conference so that people who aren't able to attend will be able to see some of these incredible presentations as they're happening. I'd love to write a post that tries to explain empowered patients and participatory medicine in more detail, but my friends over at Krū Research can do that better than I ever could in their blog, The Patient Will See You Know.

This is the video that they released today, Regina Holliday: The Worst Pain Imaginable. It was one of the most memorable presentations from last year's conference, maybe the most memorable. In the presentation, Regina relates her experiences with the healthcare system during her late husband's illness, the effect it had on her family, including her autistic son, and how she became an advocate for patient rights.

For those of you not familiar with Regina and her story, here's a bit from her own blog:
Regina Holliday is a DC-based patient rights arts advocate. She is currently at work on a series of paintings and blog posts depicting the need for clarity and transparency in medical records. After the death of her husband, Fred Holliday II, on June 17th 2009, She began a large Mural Titled “73 cents.” This piece can be viewed at 5001 Connecticut Ave. Washington, DC 20008. This piece depicts Holliday family’s nightmare journey through the medical system during Fred’s cancer care. The painting became part of the national healthcare debate and was covered by the BBC, CNN, CBS, AOL, VOA, NPR, The Washington Post and the BMJ.
The video is 15 minutes long, but absolutely worth your time. You will be moved by Regina's story.

The gamut of things covered at this conference is pretty amazing. One minute you might be watching a panel discussion on FDA regulatory procedure pertaining to social media. Next it might be a race car driver talking about Twitter, a demonstration of a gadget that helps you sleep better, a cautionary rhyme about new age medicine, or an incredibly moving personal story like this one.

Learn more about the voice of the patient by following Regina Holliday's Medical Advocacy Blog. If you're interested in all things e-Patient and health 2.0, be sure to follow Kru Research's blog, The Patient Will See You Now. And while you're here, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rebecca Black is Better Than a Slushy in the Face! [VIDEO]

I couldn't wait till Friday to share this.
I've mentioned before how much I love getting e-mails from teachers with follow-ups to the stories we cover on Classroom Close-up, NJ. Today I got one of those e-mails from music teacher Carl Botti at Frank R. Conwell Middle School #4 in Jersey City. You might remember Carl from my post, I Didn’t Get a Slushy in the Face, but I Did Hear a Great Band, about the story we taped with his students.

Here's the note he sent me:
Hi Adam,

If you get a minute please check out the band's recent performance on VH1 "Big Morning Buzz". Is it something for your blog? A followup? NJN show helped us get the gig!

Carl Botti
Music Teacher MS4
Jersey City
You bet it is! So without further ado, here's the KYBD Band's VH1 debut with their cover of Rebecca Black's "Friday".

How freakin' awesome is that!

Really happy for these students and thrilled to hear that our story helped them land this sweet gig. Way to go gang!

And just in case you missed it, here's the KYBD Band story from this season:

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Tale of Three Salespeople, the BEST Way to Not Make a Sale

The recently deceased.
A couple of months ago I related the tale of how the Bausers decided to defy national statistics and become a single-car family. Right before Memorial Day we took it a step farther and became a no-car family.

Not by choice.

For the second time in less than a month, Lauren turned the ignition on the station wagon only to be met with the coolant warning light. Bone dry. A quick top off and a trip to the local Pep Boys confirmed the worst. Leaky head gasket. Coolant in the oil. Bad stuff. The mechanic recommended that the only place our car should be driven was to its final resting place. He felt so bad for us that he didn't even charge us for the diagnostic or the coolant to get the car out of his lot.

Now, I'm not one to quickly put vehicles out to pasture. In my opinion, a thousand dollars of annual maintenance is still a lot cheaper than owning a new car and having one of those pesky car loans. This time however, it was only May, and I'd already exceeded my usual budget for auto repairs. I know a head gasket isn't cheap to fix, and I knew that the job was beyond my abilities. Replacement was the only logical option. Fortunately, we had our Zipcars and good friends to help us get around for a few days while we shopped for a new car.

Did I mention I hate car shopping? To make it worse, I hadn't purchased a non-Volkswagen in more than two decades, so I had no idea where to begin. A quick consultation with my Facebook friends and a lot of time spent on had me settled me on buying a used Kia Rondo because A) Kias don't cost a fortune, B) Rondos aren't super big and are thus easier to street park, and C) The kids really wanted a car with three rows of seats so their Nana and PopPop could ride with us when they visit.

Three web-inquiries later and my phone was soon ringing off the hook with calls from eager salespeople who wanted to sell me cars. I made two appointments:
There was also a third salesperson from an actual Kia dealership, Mike. We spoke on the the phone and via email several times before deciding the price of his used Rondo was too high for me (plus it only had two rows of seats).

Anyway, I won't bore you with the details of the sale, not even the part where the salesperson told me the story about her mom cutting off her finger in the sliding door of their minivan when she was a child (Mazda 5's have sliding doors, Rondos don't). I don't like to mess around when I shop. It was the car we wanted at the price we wanted. I bought the Rondo.

The new BauserMobile.
If you've ever bought a car from a dealer. You know it takes a long time to fill out paperwork. I walked into that dealer at 9AM and didn't leave with the new car until about 2PM. This included two test drives, a trip to the bank to get the cash for the down payment, and a trip to pick up Lauren from work so she could sign over the title on the wagon. Needless to say, I didn't make make it to the other appointment and I was too busy filling out papers to call and cancel it.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I can't stand being late or missing an appointment, so please understand that I don't take them lightly. Here's what happened next. 

First, the salesperson we bought the car from, Sheena, does all the right things to close the deal and up-sells us a warranty (I was planning to get one anyway). We drive off happy with our decision. 

Second, at about 2:30PM, I get a call from the salesperson (who I won't name) with the Mazda 5. The one I made an appointment with and didn't show up for. I apologize profusely and tell him that I had just purchased a car, a Kia Rondo, so I wasn't going to come look at the Mazda. Remember, this is the dealership where we'd bought the Passat and been fairly loyal service customers for nearly eight years. This salesperson's exact words to me were:

"Pfft. Whatever. Good luck with that, dude." (click)

Sheena even threw in
a free key chain
Did that just happen? Did this guy just bury a longstanding customer relationship in about five seconds? You know, I might need another car someday. I know I missed my appointment, but how many times did you not have a loaner car for me when my car was in your shop? How much time did I spend in your waiting area in the last decade? 

So, who's the best salesperson in this story? 

Sheena? She sold us a car. She wins, right? She even had that awesome severed finger story. Who cares if it was true or not?

Nope, it's Mike. The third salesperson who I never even made an appointment with.

I get an email from Mike that afternoon saying he'd still love to show me the Rondo he's got on the lot. I write him back a quick note saying we already bought one. I tell him it was the third row of seats that made the decision for us. Here's what he writes back to me:
Dear Adam,
Congratulations.... unfortunately we cannot earn every sale in this highly competitive market, however As a proud new owner of your recently purchased vehicle, we would like to take the opportunity to introduce you to our service department. We offer services ranging from routine maintenance to the unexpected repairs.
Always striving to be the best, you will be treated as one of the family. We realize that being without transportation can be very inconvenient, so we offer a shuttle service to take you where ever you need to go within a reasonable distance.
If you would like, you can take advantage of our "Early Bird Drop Off". You can pull your vehicle onto our lot the night before, fill out an "Early Bird Drop Off' note, and drop the note in our drop box. Please be sure to read our specific "Early Bird Drop Off" instructions here at Coleman Auto Group or on our website.
We have a very high commitment to service here at our dealership, so we are asking you to keep us in mind for your future service need.
Thank you and have a great day!
Now, I realize that's a form letter, but I still think it's awesome. This dealer's sales department is smart enough to realize that:

  • This guy just bought a used Kia. 
  • All cars need service at some point. This guy's used Kia will need service someday.
  • We've got a Kia dealership that specializes in servicing Kias and it's close to where this guy lives.
  • This guy really seems to like Kias. Maybe he will want to buy another one in the future. Maybe he will buy it from us.

That's a way better way to not make a sale than, "Whatever, dude."

Monday, June 6, 2011

The End of the Season, the End of NJN, and the Things I Learned

She probably didn't realize it, but
I learned a lot from this interview.
The 2011 season finale of Classroom Close-up, NJ airs tonight on NJN at 7pm and it's likely the last time a new episode of the show will air on a network with that name. The Governor announced today that the network will be taken over by WNET out of New York beginning July 1 and rebranded NJTV (pending legislative approval). Contrary to earlier rumors, nightly news will still be a part of the new network, though not the existing NJN News. Whether or not Classroom Close-up, NJ will air on the new NJTV is still unknown.

Unfortunately, I don't have an embed code for tonight's episode, but you should be able to watch it here

Since I don't have a video to share with you, I thought I'd do my own personal season recap and share one thing I learned on each of the stories I produced. (Note that I didn't start producing regularly for the show until towards the end of the season, thus I won't have a tidbit for every episode that aired. Also, this is going to be a long post, which means it will likely be riddled with typos that I'm certain my editor/wife will find for me.)

What I Learned While Making "Robotics" for Show #1
That robots are freakin' cool, duh. No really, I learned about FIRST and the robot competition mania that has infected so many students. I like to kid myself and think that Soledad O'Brien got the idea to feature FIRST in her new documentary from the multiple times we've featured them on the show.

What I Learned While Making "iPals" for Show #4
Kids in Iowa get to ride horses and drive tractors way more than kids in New Jersey. Every kid in in the Garden State would probably love to be a member of the Two County Dusters.

What I Learned While Making "Envirothon" for Show #7
Holy cow is there a lot of pollen in New Jersey in May! It was so thick while we were shooting that we had to keep wiping it off the camera lens, not to mention out of our eyes. Normally I'm pretty immune to this sort of stuff, but even I was choking on this shoot. Despite the pollen, it's still my personal favorite story of the past season and I was reminded that it's not about whether you win or lose, it's about how you play the game.

What I Learned While Making "Odyssey of the Mind" for Show #9
Again, another competition that I was totally clueless about. The creativity and confidence of these kids is amazing. I think I would have loved OTM when I was a student. I also learned that Michael Jackson apparently had a really large clock.

What I Learned While Making "Mentoring and Creativity" for Show #12

It's hard to summarize how much I learned from Sir Ken Robinson and Soledad O'Brien. I don't think I've ever been as nervous for a set of interviews as I was about meeting these individuals. After spending two days at the NJEA convention, reading books by both of these authors, and getting to ask them questions, I left Atlantic City with an entirely new perspective on education and journalism that's impacted just about everything I've worked on since. I also learned that it is possible to take the train from Princeton to Atlantic City if you're willing to make enough connections.

What I Learned While Making KYBD Band for Show #15
That KYBD stands for "Keyboard", that music sounds way better in person than in home movies on YouTube, that Marty O'Kane watches Glee, and who Colbie Caillet is.

What I Learned While Making "Gami TV" for Show #16
Other than the fact that Absegami has a kick ass media program full of great teachers and students? I think this story reinforced something I try to share with students I meet who are interested in media and communications careers: That pushing buttons and playing with gadgets is a just fun perk of working in media, the real job is about being organized, having confidence, and telling stories.

What I Learned While Making "S.A.I.L" for Show #17
Another big eye opener for me this season. I learned just how vast the special education services offered by public schools are and that most people don't even realize it. This is the kind of story that I think turns people into warriors for public education funding.

What I Learned While Making "Literature Links" for Show #18
I learned how to read again. Before I covered this story, I was mostly just sitting there listening to my child read, and correcting her pronunciation. Going into this story, I thought it was going to be this simple little tale about a parent book club. Little did I know how much it would affect me and that it would touch so many people.

What I Learned While Making "Get On the Wall" for Show #19
Ok, I confess, I'm an art dummy. I had to research the titles of those paintings in the Picassso Girl mural (other than The Starry Night, I do watch Dr. Who after all), so that's the main thing I learned. And something about some kind of painting technique using q tips, what was that called again? I'm going have to go back to the tape for that one.

What I Learned While Making "Teaching Every Child" for Show #20
That clip shows are still hard to make. And that New Jersey has great public schools. Of course, I already knew that.

Till next season...

(Ugh, I just realized how many links to are in this post. I'm probably going to have to update all of those after July 1)

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A River, Some Upstanders, Summer Hiatus, and the Uncertain Future of Public Television in New Jersey

Learning about the Upper Saddle River on "River Day".
I recently taped my last two stories of the school year for Classroom Close-up, NJ. I have a lot of packages to edit for next season so I'll be plenty busy over the next few months, but I will miss getting to visit New Jersey's public schools until September.

The first one was my favorite type of assignment, an outdoor event with an environmental theme. We visited Cavellini Middle School in Saddle River for the story "River Day". Every sixth grader at the school spent an entire day exploring and learning about the Upper Saddle River which runs right through their campus. I love how the educators at Cavellini are using the local environment to get kids excited about science. When I was a student, both my middle school and high school were just steps from the Detroit River and I can only recall a handful of times we ever ventured outside to explore the area, and that wasn't until high school biology class.

The dynamic duo, Nello and Ed, taping
"Block the Bully" for next season.
Have a great summer guys!
The last story, "Block the Bully", was another example of how schools have changed since I was a student in the latter half of the 20th century. Once a month at Ridgewood Avenue School in Glen Ridge, the entire student body simultaneously participates in a lesson focused on preventing bullying. The lessons are developed by the school's Character Education Committee, the members of which volunteer their time to work on this important issue. I love the concept of upstander, as opposed to bystander, I think it's one of the most important lessons anyone could learn.

So now we're heading into summer.

Summer in television is a lot like summer for students. It's nice to have the break, but eventually you start to look forward to the new school year starting. Sometimes that looming event carries an air of anticipation because it's a change, and even when you embrace the change, it's still an unknown. That's kind of how this summer feels since I know things will be different on the show next season.

In case you haven't been following the local news, the State of New Jersey decided it was no longer going to fund the public television network that currently airs our show, NJN Public Television. And while NJN isn't going to disappear entirely, it is going to change. All of the full-time employees have been given layoff notices and the Star Ledger released an article on Sunday saying that the network will be taken over by WNET (channel 13) out of New York. According to the article: "The nightly newscast and its other existing shows will likely not continue."

Just to clarify, the layoffs don't affect me directly. I'm not an NJN employee, I'm a freelancer, but I do feel terrible for the NJN staff, including my colleagues on the show, who are full time employees. I'm not entirely sure what this means for Classroom Close-up, NJ since it would seem we fit into the category of "other existing shows". I'm pretty sure it means we won't be working in NJN's Trenton studio going forward, but I don't think it means we're going to stop making the show. Heck, we've already got seven or eight shows in production for next season, and as far as I know, the show's sponsors haven't pulled out. It might mean we have to find a new network or distribution outlet to air the show on. I don't know, I'm sure our executive producer will be filling us all in soon.

I think I'm just going to try to enjoy the summer.

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, May 9, 2011

How Next Season’s Story Nearly Became Breaking News [Video]

A memorial flag is illuminated near the spot where
American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon
on Sept. 11, 2001. Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army
I'm getting ready to start cutting my first package for the next season of Classroom Close-up, NJ, It's a story about the 9/11 curriculum developed for New Jersey public schools entitled "Teaching 9/11". It will intentionally air around the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, but I'm not planning to make it into some kind of retrospective of the events. Instead, I'm going to talk about the process of developing the new curriculum and how teachers were involved. I'm also hoping the story can dispel reservations people might have about the curriculum by showing a bit of it in use. I'm pretty sure our cameras are the only ones that have been inside the classroom while any of these lessons were being taught.

I could go into a lot of detail about how the curriculum is more than a simple set of social studies lessons, but I'll save that for the actual story. If you want to know more right now, John Mooney over at NJ Spotlight has written some great articles on this same topic, including his most recent one about how the death of Osama Bin Laden will impact the 9/11 curriculum. That was defintiely one of the first things that went through my mind when I heard the news last week. As of now, I don't think the news is going to have much of an influence on my particular story since I'm trying to keep the focus on educational aspects.

However, last week was a clear example of how just how fast a story can change. Timeliness isn't usually a big factor for Classroom Close-up, NJ. Our stories often air weeks after we tape them and sometimes, as is the case with "Teaching 9/11", it can be five months or more. That's a far cry from the breaking world of news, as I was quickly reminded when Princeton Patch asked to me go out and get some local reactions to the Bin Laden story. No cushy thirty day post schedule for this one, just go out shoot it, and get it online as quick as you can.

If you're interested in public education and/or hyper-local news, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook and the Princeton Patch Facebook pages and click the 'Like' buttons! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Get on the Wall! [Video]

The "Mural Club" story I wrote about back in February wasn't in this week's new episode of Classroom Close-up, NJ. That's because after I finished it, I decided it needed an artsy title and re-dubbed it "Get on the Wall". It starts at about 13:25 into the show, but as always, be sure to check out all of this week's stories.

I'm not typically prone to flourishing narration, but I'm really pleased with how this one turned out. All that creativity at Reading-Fleming Intermediate School must have inspired me.

No new show next week, but those of you who would rather watch the show in hi-def instead of online can catch a repeat of this week's show on Saturday, May 7 at 9 am on NJN. I don't know the airdate yet, but the next new episode will be the season finale where we recap the past season. Don't worry, we are already deep into production for next season, so plenty of blog posts about public education still to come!

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Went Two for Three on Flashmob Videos This Weekend [Video]

What a crazy weekend!

I just happened to be hanging out near the library with my video camera on Friday when this flashmob broke out.

And then it happened again on Saturday when this flash mob broke out at Communiversity!

Alright, I confess, this wasn't some John-McClane-in-Die-Hard-2-style coincidence.

Another crowd? Another flashmob? How can
the same gig happen to the same guy twice?
I was actually tipped off about both of these flash mobs by Greta Cuyler, editor of the recently launched Princeton Patch. About a week earlier, I contacted the Patch about possibly contributing to the site in hopes of getting some more opportunities to polish my news gathering skills. These were the first two assignments they sent me on and they were a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to doing more with the Patch.

And just when I thought I had a monopoly on Princeton flash mobs, I find out there was a third flashmob that I wasn't at! Next year I'm getting them all!

If you're interested in hyper-local news, visit the Princeton Patch Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

This Post Will Get More Interesting as the Day Goes On

Conducting team interviews
at a previous M3 Challenge
It's M3 Challenge time again!

Today I'm in NYC to cover the 2011 Moody's Mega Math Challenge Finals. We're going to be taping all the presentations and talking to all the people involved so we can make some more awesome videos about applied mathematics.

New this year, we're broadcasting the entire event live on USTREAM, which you can watch in the window below (I hope). If you're tuning into this post before 1:30PM EST, you'll probably just see a recap of last year's event. Between 1:30PM and 6:00PM you should see the event as it takes place, along with some of my interviews. After that, you should still be able to watch the archived clips.

Video streaming by Ustream
If you don't know anything about the M3 Challenge, check out a few of my other posts on the contest. You might also want to read up on this year's challenge problem so you have at least an inkling of what everyone's talking about.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Revelation About Charter Schools and More on Reading with Your Child [Video]

All books featured in this
episode must contain the
number 7 in the title
I've been looking forward to this week's episode of Classroom Close-up, NJ a bit more than I normally would. Mostly because the segment I produced for this show, "Literature Links", was the inspiration for what became the most viewed post on this blog, "Unlocking the Keys to Reading with Your Child". I don't know for certain, but I think it was probably popular because other parents could relate to my realization that I could be doing more to help my children develop their reading skills.

"Literature Links" begins at about 20:00, but be sure to check out the other three stories in this week's show.

Next week: Mural Club! (which has since been retitled, "Get on the Wall")

If you're interested in public education, visit the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! To find out where I'm headed next, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.