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 NJN.net are in this post. I'm probably going to have to update all of those after July 1)


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