Videographers from Lifetime television stopped by the Da Vinci Academy and Martin Technology Academy of Math and Science on Monday to film a feature about technology in schools.
"They're doing a show about technology for 21st century learners. A lot of parents think technology is just for high school, so we're showing what we do here," Martin Principal Tamara Etterling said. "The show draws 7 to 8 million viewers, most who are moms who work at home."
The show, "The Balancing Act," is a talk show broadcast 7-8 a.m. each day, and the Hall County students will be featured on a five-minute segment Oct. 8 about preparing students for future success with technology.
"The lead came through other partnerships we're working with, specifically through Dell," said Aaron Turpin, Hall County Schools director of technology, who recommended which schools Lifetime should visit. "Da Vinci is doing a great job of integrating 21st century skills in all the lesson plans, and Martin, being a new charter school, they're doing great things."
At Martin, Lifetime took video of Melody Tupper's third-grade class as they created PhotoStory projects to fulfill writing requirements. The students, separated into groups, interviewed one another and wrote stories about their likes and dislikes. They then took photos with digital cameras and recorded the interviews with microphones and a laptop.
"Last week, you know what they said?" Tupper said with a laugh. "'We got to touch the computers!' They were so excited."
Martin Technology Academy was granted its charter school status this year, and teachers said they were excited to incorporate technology into the first week. The PhotoStory project helped to spice up the usual "What I did during summer break" assignments given on the first day of school.
"Using technology now starts at a very young age," Etterling said. "We owe it to them to be engaging, especially when the technology is available at home. They need the skills of problem solving and not regurgitating information."
On Monday, the students tinkered on their projects, completing title pages and matching audio to the photos.
"We talked about what we have in common and what our differences are," explained Ammu Moorthy, one of the group leaders. "Then we had to decide which pictures to use and put them in the right order and put it all on PhotoStory 3."
Being on TV isn't so bad either.
"It's really exciting," Elijah Turner said about the Lifetime visitors. "The project helps us learn what to do on the computer, and being on TV makes us feel special."
At Da Vinci, sixth-graders talked with computer teacher Gary Martin about using the Internet safely. Da Vinci students use personal laptops at school and at home, and the school filters don't follow them home.
"We talked about the dangers of social networking, blogging, e-mail, instant messaging, cyber bullying and personal information theft," Martin said. "We will spend the next week learning how to avoid those dangers and safely use the Internet both professionally and personally. At the end of the unit, each students will create a public service announcement, or MP3 file, using either Audacity or Garage Band to communicate their ideas for staying away from danger."
For Etterling, it's this creation and engagement aspect that she hopes viewers take away from the Lifetime segment.
"I call it the dinner table test. As a mom, I know you ask your children what they did at school and they say nothing'," she said. "I've already had a parent stop me at the grocery store and tell me the kids wouldn't stop talking about school and asked to get out the computer and show what they learned."