Hickman and Cundall found an iPad app which enables them to combine images on the fly in a single take, cutting down on the editing work substantially. They have mounted an iPad running Green Screen by Do Ink on a tripod, and the students take turns being the camera person. Another student holds a separate iPad running Teleprompter Pro Lite, which displays the students’ scripts in large white-on-black text. A microphone designed to work with the iPad and covered with the BBC logo completes their super light kit.
As each sub-section is finished, the students begin handing off their completed stories and presenter cues to the editor-in-chief – 13-year-old Sophia Konovalova –responsible for splicing together the final video. Exhibiting grace under pressure, they finish in the nick of time. At 2pm, the students drop any unfinished tasks and troop back to the boardroom to watch their footage. Sophia begins uploading their report to the BBC’s servers as Cundall leads the students through a review of the day. They are tired but happy and fired up to continue; BSB Shunyi will be part of the BBC School Report project for the remainder of 2014, and students will continue to create stories during ASA. These will be uploaded to the BBC website throughout the year.
The kids play a special role because of the eight-hour time difference between Beijing and London. “When the students wake up in Britain and start their reports, ours is already done,” says Hickman. “The first report they’ll look at is our end-of-day report.” Puttock is highly impressed with the students and optimistic for the future of School Report at BSB Shunyi. “They’re confident, serious, professional, and focused,” he says. “They really love doing it and they’re perfectionists. It’s fantastic that they’ve developed their own stories. For many of them, English isn’t even their first language, and yet they don’t bat an eyelid. We hope the BBC will work with us again next year, and we hope that we’ll be a forerunner for other international schools.”
Emma Le, age 14, Vietnam and Cathleen Loh, age 14, Malaysia
Cathleen: Our story is a comparison of the Chinese and British school systems. We went to Beijing New Talent Academy and interviewed the principal, one of the teachers, and a few students. We were comparing aspects of each system – for example why their math is better than ours. We found that they study more complicated math than us early on. Their curriculum is a cross between international systems and the Chinese system, and they are taught in Chinese.
Emma: Having looked at both schools, I still prefer the British system because we get a lot of support and help whereas the Chinese students mostly learn independently.
Cathleen: I really enjoyed talking to students who were the same age as me from a Chinese school. I found it especially interesting because I had never done that before.
Alex Kroepfl, age 11, Austria/China
My report is on Portable Magic, a book festival that took place in March. I interviewed two authors and our Head of English here at the school. This piece has been roughly eight hours of work. I started preparing around two weeks ago; that’s when I did the interviews. I researched the authors on the Internet to learn their backgrounds and then I wrote questions for them. I wasn’t nervous interviewing them; I was actually more excited about the process. Speaking to famous people is a privilege. They were very friendly and understanding, and they were intrigued by the questions. I learned that it’s really important to rehearse and to be prepared and to solve problems quickly. My favorite part of today was filming in front of the green screen. When I stood in the wrong position it looked like the person behind me was eating my head!
Sophia Konovalova, age 13, Russia
I’m the main editor and I want to be a journalist when I grow up. The most challenging part of the whole thing has been getting people to give me their files on time. I remind people to pass them over by asking them, “Have you done it yet?” I’d recommend other students to try BBC School Report. It’s like a model newsroom, a chance to feel as though you’re out in the real world. Plus it’s been fun to hang out with everyone and get to know people, and to have no classes all day.
BSB Shunyi News Day Blog
BBC News School Report
Green Screen by Do Ink
Teleprompter Pro Lite
This article originally appeared on p44-47 of the beijingkids May 2014 issue. Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com.
Photos by Sui