Townsview School students produce daily online Thunder Express news show

Article Posted: Monday, October 07, 2019

​At Townsview School in Woodstock, breaking news is available through a daily online news show called Thunder Express.  Three teams of students work on writing the script, filming, editing and producing the show everyday with the help of two lead teachers, Robyn Dussault and Chris Belzil.  

"Students hear about what is going on in their school from their classmates," said Principal Pat Thorne.  "They are involved in the creation and delivery of important announcements and events about their school community.  Students are more engaged with listening to the announcements when it is coming from their peers and they have a visual on the smartboard, not a voice over the PA system."

Thorne explained students involved with Thunder Express learn team skills as they work together to prepare the announcements and produce the daily news show together.  They learn organization skills and thinking ahead (news preparation in advance). They develop their oral communication skills (filming in front of a camera) and they grow in self-confidence and self-esteem, while also building courage (putting themselves out there for the  whole school community to see them on camera).

"It gives them skills in technology, innovation and creation (editing the footage and adding their own personality and individuality to their creation)," Thorne noted. "They are creators not consumers, gaining powerful Global Competency Skills to prepare them for success in the information age. And most importantly, it gives them a sense of purpose and belonging, feeling connected to the school and valued for their contributions."

Feedback from students, parents and staff has been positive.  Watching Thunder Express as a class has become part of the Townsview School culture. Parents are also able to access the news through the school website, thus keeping them in the loop and up-to-date about what is happening at school.

Townsview School became a kindergarten to Grade 8 school when the former Woodstock Middle School joined the campus in September 2015. Equipment was purchased and filming began in December 2015. Three teams of 45 students in Grades 6-8 now work on Thunder Express with the two lead teachers.  

The news is prepared during the first morning recess break. Filming is conducted during noon hours and editors work on the footage during this time as well. After filming, the crew begins working on the following day's announcements. Then after school, the final edits are done and the video is uploaded to the school website by end of day.

"We are evolving each year," Thorne stated. "We try to add fresh ideas and keep things changing to spark different thoughts and ideas with the students.  We have had such segments as Music Monday, Movement Monday, Talk Tuesday, Tech Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Weird Wacky Wednesday, Thoughtful Thursday, Throwback Thursday, Fun Friday, Funny Friday… etc.  This year, we wanted to promote positivity with a Good News Segment of good things happening in our school, in our community and around the world."

Teachers share good things happening in their classrooms and Thunder Express is there to capture it on camera and share it with the rest of the school.  

"With so much negativity out there, we wanted to inspire kindness and compassion in our students.  We want to prepare them to be caring, conscientious citizens for the future," Thorne reported.​

The Thunder Express daily news show can be viewed on the Townsview School website found at the link below.​