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Students Create Show To Debate Issues 'From All Angles' (video)

Kids from history, video production classes work together to create panel show. Students choose topics for each episode.

The students position themselves on stage and check their microphones. In the control room, other students signal they’re ready. Out on the set, another student frames his shot.

Then, the magic happens.

Students from Beth O’Leary’s 11th grade U.S. History and Jim Hoogstrate’s television production classes at work together on a regular basis to produce “From All Angles,” an episodic series broadcast on MSG Varsity and channel 77 on cable.

“It’s the future of education,” said student David Ostern. Ostern is the student executive producer of the show. “It’s not your typical class where you take notes and listen to a lecture. You’re taking the knowledge that you’ve obtained both in and out of the class and working together to create a cohesive product.”

The series began late last academic year out of debates that occurred in O’Leary’s class, which paralleled the way the legislative branch of the federal government is structured. Students are elected to leadership positions and assigned to committees. Those committees formed the basis for the debate teams featured on the show.

“We thought, ‘okay, let’s take the whole debate process and televise it’,” O’Leary said.

Students from O’Leary’s class rotate being on the show. One episode a student may serve a moderator, another as a panelist. Students choose and research the topic for each show. Students also created the logos and artwork for the show.

This year, students discussed the Republican presidential candidates, analyzed the ever-mounting phenomenon of student loan debt. An episode exploring the right of same-sex couples to get married is being produced now. A fourth episode will address the redistribution of wealth in the United States.

“We take themes and break them down. We start with where the topic is now then we ask ‘how did we get here’,” O’Leary said.

Panelists are also required to examine where the topic is going and analyze where it could be going. O’Leary wants her students, and those watching the program, to have a holistic view of the topic being discussed.

Each episode contains a “Kids in the Hall” segment where Stefano Tavella goes into the hallway and asks a student what he or she thinks about that show’s topic.

A group of students from Hoogstrate’s class films and produces the show. The students are in charge of making sure the microphones are on, cameras rolling, and shots properly framed.

Unlike O’Leary, Hoogstrate has the same students participate in every episode that’s filmed.

Hoogstrate worked in television for 10 years before becoming a teacher. His students have a track record of producing award-winning work. Several students and several students from both Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley high schools are up for awards this year.

“I try to keep it consistent and they’ve gotten really good,” Hoogstrate said. “You’re show is only as good as it sounds and it looks.”

The show has a Facebook page and is on Twitter under the username FromAllAngles.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Cathy Kazan May 25, 2012 at 02:18 PM
I saw this presentation at the BOE meeting and I have to say the students couldn't be more enthusiastic about the experience. Looks like a winning model to me. The name of the program sure fits the multi-layered level of learning that is incorporated into this curriculum. Kudos to our history department and, of course, the students who participated.
Al Scala May 25, 2012 at 02:32 PM
I was at the Board meeting as well and listened to these students and watched their presentation. WOW! It blew me away. I love the fact that they're taking their education outside the classroom and thinking outside the box. Amazing. Discussing different positions and debating with each other is fantastic. In this sea of storm with our BOE, this was an oasis of sorts, listening and seeing what they're doing.
Eric Ostern May 26, 2012 at 04:19 PM
As a parent of one of the kids who has been working on the show, not only do I see the hard work that goes into preparing for the actual filming, but I see the desire to learn elevated to a whole new level. Congratulations to the kids and a special thanks to Dr. O'Leary and Mr. Hoogstrate for providing our kids with a dynamic learning opportunity.
Anonnz May 29, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Darius haber created this show. Ask o'leary and listen to her lie to your face.
LJ Slowik May 29, 2012 at 06:42 PM
This is a great experience for teachers and students - allows for interaction and learning beyond the classroom. Thanks for getting the word out - hope that other schools take notice and develop similar course for their curriculm. Great job!

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