The Akiva Broadcasting Network

By: Rabbi Michael Greenwald, Rabbi Chaim Goldenberg, Professor Larry Katz, Ms. Alexandra Sibson
from Akiva Academy

Interdisciplinary Integration

Subject(s) of entry:
Art, Computer Science, Gemara, Halacha, History, Ivrit, Mishnah, Music, Science, Tanach

Constructivist, IBL - inquiry based learning, PBL - project based learning

Grade(s) to which this was taught:
5, 6, Elementary school, Middle school

Grade(s) for which this will be useful:
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, Elementary school, Middle school, High school

The Akiva Broadcasting Network (ABN) is an interactive, team-oriented program of study where students develop communications skills; broadcast technology and technical skills; and critical life skills, integrating Jewish and Secular Studies across the curriculum.

ABN is part of the Kid TV program developed by Professor Larry Katz with the objective to teach cross curricular skills to students through the creation of TV newscasts that are shared with other members of their school community via an internal broadcast network and are also shared on the school website. Student select the news items, prepare the D’vray Torah, and stories on famous Jewish personalities, write the scripts, shoot and edit the stories, do the interviews, take on the roles of anchors and reporters, manage the broadcasts and handle all of the technical jobs

Entry Narrative

The Akiva Broadcasting Network (ABN) involves two of the school Judaic teachers, a professor from the University of Calgary and a secular teacher working together as a team. All students in the Grade 5/6 class participate in the program. It has also been successfully used with grade 7,8 and 9 students. The ABN team are taught that their audience is the rest of the school, so the stories have to be entertaining for those students.

Stories are usually chosen from events that occur in the school so other students frequently see themselves or their peers as part of the stories. The ABN students go in teams of three and capture events on video and still camera, whether a field trip or event happening in the classroom/school. These events are summarised into one to two minute stories with video, and narration. Each story is edited by the students and then presented as part of the broadcast. If there are exciting guests in the school, then the team responsible for stories that week will create interview questions and videotape the interview, which is edited and presented as one of the events.

Every student in the Grade 5/6 class is required to take part in the program and are exceptionally eager to participate. Tasks can be adjusted to fit the number of students. If there are 19 students in the class, then the teachers modify the task list to ensure that for each broadcast there is an activity for each student (see example attached broadcast task list). If there are 19 students, then there are 19 task and there will be at least 19 broadcasts to ensure that every student takes on each of the 19 roles.

Broadcasts usually last between 5-10 minutes and are broadcast to the whole school through a video network. While each broadcast starts with a D’var Torah, the Producer (student assigned that task for that broadcast) and the anchor(s) decide the balance of the order of the other stories/events. The number of anchors is dependent upon the class size (small class one anchor, large class two anchors).

For Judaic studies the following activities are undertaken by the students on the broadcasts:

  • Each broadcast starts with a D’var Torah (students work with the Judaic’s teacher to choose either the weekly portion or a specific area of interest)
  • Students research famous Jewish Personalities and prepare a slide show and script on each person which the student whose turn it is to present the famous Jewish personality, reads as a live narration while the slide show is playing during that part of the broadcast.
  • Students can provide Hebrew readings
  • Special school events such as the Grade one Siddur party, Rosh Hodesh events, or the Chanukah plays are made into one or two minute stories and broadcast to the school.
  • Visiting Rabbis, scholars and Jewish entertainers are interviewed either live, during the broadcast, or pre-recorded and edited to be shown on the broadcast.
  • The student responsible for managing the audio board for the broadcast is also responsible for choosing the music. Selecting appropriate music is important and involves some careful discussions and decisions (Music)

Secular Activities: Students

  • Create the backdrops (Art lesson)
  • Design and produce their multimedia ABN folders in which they store the documents they have created (Graphics and Art).
  • Design the opening credits for the broadcast where they are responsible for managing the computer (Art and Powerpoint)
  • Learn to choose stories, write scripts, learn to speak in front of audiences and interview subjects (Communications and Language Arts)
  • Learn to use video and still cameras, edit video, operate the broadcast equipment audio board, video board, cameras, tripods, computer graphics (computer science and technology).
  • Write stories on secular events like field trips to the food harvest and produce commercials for school clubs, special events (e.g. hot lunch). (Communications)
  • Produce one minute science experiments that excite young students (Science).

Students learn how to work in teams, problem solve, manage time constraints, maintain their composure when technology malfunctions or colleagues are sick, and be creative and supportive of each other.

Entry Videos