Taking a Leap

By Jessica Siebert on September 28, 2016

Featuring Grand Island Northwest teachers, Colleen Childers and Beth Kavan

It’s special. When you have two educators that decided to take a leap and see where they land. Well, it’s pretty obvious when you read about what Colleen Childers and Beth Kavan have teamed up to do at Grand Island Northwest High School, they haven’t landed yet.

Colleen Childers is in her fourth year at Northwest. She teaches Photography, Digital Media 1 and 2 and Reality 101.

Beth Kavan teaches Newspaper, Yearbook, Photography and Sophomore English in this fifth year for her at Northwest .

Where has the magic started to happen as these two teachers decided to team up? Broadcast Journalism. The class is now in its second year, but it started as an idea when Northwest started streaming with Striv. The school wanted their broadcasting to be more professional and Childers and Kavan were just the people to make that happen. The first year, they were just ‘getting their feet wet’, but it was in the second year that they decided to dive head first and really get the students more involved. They started creating a classroom built around learning all the necessities of broadcasting and using video to share stories. From teaching students the Wirecast software to creating video spotlights. They wanted to be more than just streaming, they wanted to create a classroom that the students could build an actual newscast. The students would gain journalistic writing skills, interview skills, diligence in recording everything and learning programs like adobe premiere for editing.

When Kavan came up with this classroom idea, it took off with the students and the response was exciting. “We feel so fortunate to be able to do this.” Childers spoke of the co-teaching opportunity they implement. She is very aware that to teach a class of this depth would have been a struggle to do alone.

Childers and Kavan have a dynamic situation in that they get to share a plan period. It is enjoyable to them because they work so well together and have tremendous support by the administration.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic.” Kavan says about the co-teaching class.

The class not only is a great opportunity for these teachers to collaborate, but also for the students to have the opportunity to learn from both teachers. Kavan has a Masters Degree in Journalism. She has had the opportunity to work at the Special Olympics National Games as a journalist. It was there she thought, “How cool would it be for kids to be able to have this experience.”

She also is an Adjunct teacher at Hastings College. This in itself brings even more opportunities for Northwest students interested in journalism to get experience and have it shared at Hastings and they see how to prepare for college as a Journalism Major.

Childers brings so much knowledge in Adobe software. She is self-taught in Adobe and also was trained by Tech staff in the Lincoln Public School system when she did Macro Media there. She has been teaching Adobe for 15 years now and moving into proficiency in different applications.

This class has some pretty decorated educators to present the unique environment. Students have the freedom to create and share content. Kavan and Childers agree that this class is one of the only classes where everyone sees your homework and they get to critique, read and analyze it. The students’ bar is set pretty high when you have an audience waiting on all your work. This has created a maturity in the students that these teachers observe due to not wanting to disappoint their audience.

From the class, students have developed an understanding in their specific talents and interests. They have students interested in sports broadcast and are able to now take StrivU courses online. Another aspect the teachers are working on to interweave the Striv classes available.

This class is still growing, learning and doing; students and teachers alike. It is evolving into something pretty great and at the core of that is two pretty great teachers that chose to take a leap.

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