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Engaging community youth and adults through Media Club

By Kait Hulbert

Each semester, scholars from all majors and all years participate in Media Club to bring media literacy education to students at local schools and adults working with the Ithaca Youth Bureau. This fall, Media Club ran six programs: a Journalism Club at Beverly Jane Martin Elementary School; a Media Club at Belle Sherman Elementary School; a Film Club at DeWitt Middle School; two programs at Ithaca High School; and a Photography Workshop at the Ithaca Youth Bureau. With programs designed to reach students of all ages, Media Club's 2013–14 schedule is a diverse reflection of the skills and passions of scholars leading our eight programs. Program content ranges from still photography and music video–production workshops to serving students along the learning spectrum of elementary school into late adulthood.

This fall marked our third semester at BJM Elementary School, and the students were excited to learn about news and news writing through Journalism Club. The program began with a three-week focus on print journalism where students created a “A+ Newspaper” that featured articles on Cornell soccer, local grocery stores, community events and favorite teachers. Students then began developing a newscast that focused on local, national and international news.

At Belle Sherman, we began our first semester partnering with the school through a basic Media Club last semester. Programming covered advertising, journalism, still photography and basic production. After six weeks of using hands-on activities to develop new critical thinking and media literacy skills, students developed three commercials: a promotional ad for Barnes & Noble featuring Jim Carrey; an ad for Apple's iPad; and a critical perspective of the Apple ad featuring all girls. This semester, Media Club will lead a Film Club at Belle Sherman that focuses on still photography and short-film production.

Last semester also marked Media Club's first partnering with Ithaca High School. During the summer, the school completed construction on a new TV studio. IHS teacher Steve Cass reached out to Media Club with the hopes of bringing scholars into the classes to utilizie the new equipment. This fall, scholars volunteered in two of Cass's classes, a digital literacy class and a production class. Scholars assist students with projects, act as general classroom aids and lead media literacy-based lessons at the start of classes. This partnership will continue throughout this semester, with scholars volunteering in the same classes.

Scholars also led a Film Club at DeWitt Middle School last semester. Not only was this the first program established at DeWitt, the Film Club marked our first program at a middle school in the Ithaca City School District. The eight-week program introduced students to basic media literacy and production skills and then led them through the process of writing, producing and directing a short film. Students also learned basic animation and editing. This semester an extended Film/Journalism Club will feature programming related to music video production and broadcast news.

Finally, scholars also continued developing workshops for our ongoing Photography Workshop Series through the Youth Bureau. The program brings scholars together with developmentally disabled adults working with the Recreation Support Services. Each semester, scholars host two to three workshops designed to teach principles of framing, storytelling and production using DSLR cameras. Last semester marked our sixth and seventh workshops with the RSS; this semester we plan to lead two additional workshops beginning in late spring.



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