Wednesday, February 25, 2015

SHSU's GlobalCenter for Journalism & Democracy "Goes Local" with Our Journalism Teachers and Zoriah Miller & Dr. Marcus Funk

On Monday, the world of Global Journalism came to our neighborhood.

Really?!?!  Yes, Really.
Zoriah has used this camera to capture some of his highly regarded images.

Through a collaboration between Sam Houston State University's GlobalCenter for Journalism and Democracy (GCJD) and our Region 6 Education Service Center, journalism teachers from around our region got the chance to learn from experts in the field, enjoy a day of professional development and be inspired.

Zoriah began his workshop with a presentation of his work, 
which you can find at his website:
The GCJD, which usually trains journalists around the world (e.g. Lebanon, The Philippines, Poland) "went local."  They brought in Zoriah Miller (Zoriah), an award winning photojournalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, National Geographic, Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone among others and Dr. Marcus Funk, an assistant professor at SHSU,  the faculty advisor to The Houstonian and an a former journalist with extensive experience in community newspapers.

You can not escape the written word!
Dr. Marcus Funk, faculty member at the Mass Communication School
and advisor to SHSU's The Houstonian Newspaper.  

Dr. Funk started at the beginning- "What is Journalism?"  In this era of tumultuous change in both the business and the technology of Journalism, it's important to drill down to what "news" is at it's core.

Journalism teaches you to think critically, a skill needed now more than ever.

From there, the group explored ideas of community and the potential for journalism students to impact the community as they gain skills that will last their life times- regardless of whether they become practicing journalists.

In a thoughtful mood: Huntsville High's Lisa Black Fuller
takes in the discussion of the importance of journalism- it's about people.

To the question, 'Is it important to learn Journalism, even if you don't intend to be a journalist?'  Dr. Funk asks his own questions, "Is it important to learn to think critically?  Is it important to communicate with brevity and clarity?"  Learning is good for the students, and it's good for their future job prospects, too!

GCJD's Jesse Starkey writes down attempts at a "One word definition of news."

Dr. Funk had the students (read "Journalism teachers") give lede writing a try- it's hard fun.

Dr. Traci Seils, Componet Director of Region 6 and
Kelli Arena, who is the Dan Rather Endowed Chair of the Mass Communication School
and Director of the GlobalCenter for Journalism & Democracy

For Zoriah, photographs are "Pieces of Truth."

Zoriah has thousands of dollars of camera equipment available to him, but he doesn't discount any camera, including a simple point and shoot one he showed the class he purchased for about $70.00. (His primary camera is one he purchased for under $1000. )  Zoriah half jokingly recounted that out of his first 100,000 images, 20 were good.

Image Courtesy of Zoriah.
For him, it was (and is) all about practice, trial & error, getting feedback on your images and then going back out and taking more pictures.  He shared some very do-able exercises that will get the teachers (and their students) thinking in new ways and forcing them out of their picture taking comfort zones to stretch themselves.  How about a day of only photographing reflections?  Or for the more ambitious, how about spending the entire day with a grandma?  or a child?

Image Courtesy of Zoriah

Although Zoriah travels throughout the world photographing in developing nations,
he urges people to look around at their own communities (and own life) for stories to share.

Throughout the day there was a spirit of empowerment- although these folks are experts in their field, they firmly believe that Journalism (and Photojournalism) is open to all.

Wife and Husband and Teachers, too.
India and Robert Peden work together at Shepherd High School in Shepherd ISD

Dan Rather Chair of the Mass Communication School and Executive Director of the Center Kelli Arena and the GCJD brought Zoriah to SHSU for a series of workshops and talks this week, and our teachers really appreciated being included on his itinerary.  Thank you to everyone who made this happen, including Traci Seils at the Region 6 Education Service Center.

His subject matter is serious, but the mood of the session was light.
Clearly, he takes his work seriously, but not himself.
These must be Journalism teachers- we saw more cups of coffee than usual!

Zoriah with, "The Road," (27" x 40", edition of 8) from his collection of photos in Haiti.
The photo is by Anne Hughes, and you can see more of Zoriah's works at the Zia Gallery.

Usually behind the scenes and here in front of the camera.
Jesse Starkey is the Program Manager at the
GlobalCenter for Journalism & Democracy @ SHSU

On Tuesday,  we were at Mance Park Middle School and stopped by Shelley Petkovsek and Laura Campbell's rooms.  Both were applying some of the very lessons and strategies they learned the day before.

Shelley Petkovsek talks to her class about what she learned at school (professional development) yesterday!

Students in both classes were working on nuts and bolts lessons like lede writing, as well as some of the ethical issues journalists encounter.  It was remarkable to see such a quick turnaround and immediate application of the teachers' learning the day after the workshop.

 Zoriah concludes the Visual Storytelling Guide he distributed to our teachers with a call for all of us to forge our own paths:

It took me a lot of trial and error and 
many years to learn what I have shared with you, but I am no expert.  
The way I do things is not the right way and definitely not the only way.  
So go out there and forge your own path.  
Experiment with my way of doing things to get yourself started.  
Take what you like and let go of what you don't like.  
In the end, your own way of doing things will be what makes your work unique and interesting.

Now that's a banner headline!
Mance Park teacher Laura Campbell's assignment for this week.

Valerie, one of Shelley Petkovsek's Budding Journalists

Laura Campbell in her Video Media I Class earlier today.

Cody (front) and Ethan get down to lede writing.

Y'all ready to write a headline?  How about a lede?  Future Journalists line up.
(L-R, Christopher, Crystal and Hannia are ready to do this!)

Hornet Student Filmmakers Make Movies, Take Them to State!

What exactly DO some of our Huntsville High School students do for fun in their free time?  

Director and Subject: Carolyn Davidhizar with Chantale Macias.

Well some of them use their free time to write, produce, act and edit movies.  That's the case with three groups from Huntsville High School who created films and entered them into The University Interscholastic League's Young Filmmakers Festival.   

When they are on the field, these young women are Lady Hornet Soccer players:
(L-R)Tehya Pavelka, Carolyn Davidhizar, Chantale Macias, Emily Vaughan and Faith Williams
This is the second year of the festival, the second year that our District submitted entries into the competition, the second time one of our Huntsville High School student produced films placed- and you guessed it- our film came in Second place!

And when these same young women are in front of the marquee
at The Paramount Theatre in Austin, they are student filmmakers
taking a quick break for the paparazzi.
(L-R) Tehya Pavelka, Faith Williams, Chantale Macias, Emily Vaughan, Carolyn Davidhizar

A Shot at Equality is a movie profiling one of our  Lady Hornet Soccer players that was actually made by members of her own team of Lady Hornet Soccer players.

A soccer player editing a movie about a soccer player while using a soccer mouse pad.
("When passions collide!" :-) )

Chantale Macias is an incredibly hardworking and phenomenally talented Mexican-American girl who dreams of playing for the Mexican National Team.  She has been playing for years, and enjoys the support of her mom and dad, but the movie explores how many Hispanic families aren't like hers and believe their daughters should work supporting the family instead of pursuing their athletic passions.


The film features interviews with fellow players, as well as their coach and HHS CTE Film and TV teacher Andrew Stewart.  The genesis of the film came out of conversations between coach and players.
Chantale is definitely more comfortable on the field than on camera!

 A Shot at Equality, was entered under the documentary category, and the other two HHS student produced films were made for the narrative category.  Each film started with a "What if?" conversation, and each team had a specific subject and headed in different directions.  This resulted in one very serious and one...well, not so much!

The Catalyst is a suspenseful dramatic thriller set in a high school.  The movie explores the ramifications of an abusive relationship not only on the couple but those that love them.  It involved developing a script, several days of shooting and lots of post production (editing).  The movie includes some intense scenes, so don't click on it if little ones are around.


The film was written, shot, produced and edited as a team that included Chijindu Diokpa, Makayla Doyle, Jake Spaulding, Nick Vanecek and Emilee Worley.

From L-R: nick, Jake, Chijindu Makayla and Emilee.

Simple Combat Armor is an irreverent, slapstick send up of the do-it-yourself genre.  It features students from Mandy Stewart's announcements class ("The Hive") and was shot in an afternoon.  It features Parker Blount, Jackson Godby, Miller Montgomery, and Mohammad Yar.  They had fun making it, and hope you have fun watching!


Miller Montgomery, Parker Blount (orange), Jackson Godby (in back) and Mohammad Yar.

You may remember that last year, our students entered A Queen to Be, a documentary about the nomination and crowning of one of our Life Skills student (and friend to all) Estafania Martinez.
It placed Third in state, and you can read more about it as well as watch the movie by clicking here.

Coach Stewart with the crew- See you next year!

While we will always appreciate awards and are proud of the results, we also honor all the students that had an idea, and took the time to make (and finish) a project.  They did it not for a grade but for the fun and learning experience of filmmaking.  Congratulations to everyone!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"When the students are away..." Huntsville ISD's Latest Professional Development Day

Ever wonder what exactly goes on in a staff development day?  When the students are away, do the teachers play?  Well, no, the teachers actually become the students!

Mance Park Middle School English teacher John Rhine shares his perspective.
Lauren Greer (right) and others listen.

On this professional development day, the first of Dr. Howell Wright's tenure as Superintendent of Education for Huntsville ISD, the focus of our efforts was the improvement of our students' test scores.  We came together to work on one cause; to ensure the learning of ALL Hornets.

HHS Assistant Principal Jessie Anderson listens to HHS Math Department Head Jonathan Gallen.

First, our teachers and staff reviewed our students' test data in the morning.  After a break for lunch, the teams worked together to build a comprehensive,  targeted and aligned plan to address our students' weakest and most vulnerable areas.

And what did we learn from the video?
You need a good map to know where you are going...
and don't get directions from Chevy Chase!
The day started with a message from Dr. Wright, along with an object lesson of what happens when you don't know where you are going, courtesy the Eighties comedy classic, Funny Farm.  (To review the video, click the link above & remember that you must be logged into your district email account for access.)

Dr. Wright- Superintendent and Comedy Movie Enthusiast

Teachers and staff met at three campuses in the District: the Huntsville Intermediate School cafeteria, the Mance Park Middle School Commons and the auditorium at Huntsville High School.

All He Needs is Popcorn!
Huntsville High School's German teacher and Department Head of Foreign Languages
Scott Bumbaugh is ready for the show to begin!

After the video message, we hosted an interactive question and answer session with Dr. Wright from the High School via Google Hangouts.  Although we had tech issues (Sorry Mance Park!!), we did get to hear more about Dr. Wright, both on the personal and the professional side.

Can You Hear Me Now?
Live from Huntsville- it's Huntsville Intermediate School

And, as Dr. Wright noted,  sometimes these issues come up when you're working with technology and you try something new (no matter how much you test it!)

Dr. Wright speaks- with camera on the left and audience on the right.

Huntsville High School's Construction Trades teacher Bobby Conner (center) introduces
Dr. Wright to HHS's Agriculture Science teacher Kenneth Goines.
Next, the groups were divided by content area and/or grade, with a particular focus on both vertical and horizontal alignment. We've all heard about vertical alignment, confirming that the students have a complete 'ladder' up from K-12 with no missing "rungs," but horizontal alignment?

She's getting what y'all are saying!
Amy Mayer, Director of Staff Development and District Initiatives is picking up what her group is laying down!

Horizontal alignment can also be essential to a student's success, as coaches, counselors and special subject teachers can be empowered to help bolster and scaffold the tested STEM subjects throughout the student's day.  And if these teachers don't know, then how can they help?

Not ALL serious:
Math teacher Jamie Nash of Mance Park Middle School and
Amy Turner, Assistant Principal of Huntsville Intermediate School.

Echoing what Dr. Wright mentioned in his opening remarks- Every Hornet has a role to play in the success of our students.

HHS's Criminal Justice teacher Stacy Godby & HHS Science teacher Jacki Dawson
So while you look at these photos, you may see some folks that historically haven't necessarily worked on curriculum together.

HHS Occupational Therapist Coach Elliot get down to brass tacks with HHS Math teacher Coach Teel.

Dr. Wright with Huntsville Elementary School Assistant Principal Jana Bethel.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Wright made clear that this work is not just about one test, it's about the growth of each mind for which we hold ourselves responsible and what we, personally, can do to help within the context of our individual positions.   Teachers and staff took this message to heart.
It isn't an easy task, but the stakes are real and the rewards are great!

HISD's Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction Marjetta Spriggs
in a break from the action at Huntsville Intermediate School

Huntsville High Librarian Carol Nichols and Deneice Davis, Huntsville High ISS Instructional Aide.
Two MPMS Math Teachers-  Coach Walker and Coach Ghoston
Is it just us, or could this photo work in a men's clothing catalog, too?
At Huntsville Intermediate School, Huntsville Elementary teachers  Sarah McNeel (Third Grade) 
and Robyn Bell (Refocus) take a quick break for a smile.
Brenda Shultz leads teachers through the data.

Crystal Flores, a student teacher who works with Bridget Smiley Fifth Grade Math classes
at Huntsville Intermediate School, keeps her water handy to stay hydrated!

Huntsville High Dance teacher Dana LeNorman and
 Creative Writing, Communication Arts & Debate teacher Kathy Partin are deep in the zone.

Huntsville Elementary's Counselor, Jennifer Kempton in  a moment of contemplation.

Huntsville Elementary School's Assistant Principal Jana Bethel is listening.
At Mance Park Middle School Huntsville Intermediate teachers
Karol Smith (math) and Jill Maupin (science) examine and discuss the data.
We're getting somewhere! HHS Counselors Nancy Myers and  Jessica Castro like what they hear.
Mance Park English teacher Lauren Rudolph is all smiles!
Each participant was asked to provide honest feedback before they left-
yes, you can do it on a phone! 
Hornet Proud! We caught Huntsville Elementary Special Education teacher Joe McCammon
(aka "Mr. Mac") at the end of a good long day.
Hat's Off to Everybody for Putting in the Effort and Making it Work Today!
(Hat Courtesy of Samuel Walker Houston Elementary's Lonnie Stanford)