The Historical News Broadcast

By Brent Vasicek on March 23, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

Have you ever wondered what a news report might have looked like if television had existed in the time of cavemen or Columbus? One of my favorite cross-curricular projects this year, blending technology and social studies, was a lesson I call the Historical News Broadcast.


Having produced such outstanding commercials and shown so much enthusiasm for movie editing in the Public Service Announcement lesson earlier this year, my students were bound to love the Historical News Broadcast assignment. My 5th graders took it to another whole level.

The Process

Here is a copy of the assignment.

Initially, I budgeted more than six hours for this assignment, but the students accomplished it in about four. I suspect that the fact that they were familiar with the Flip Video cameras and movie editing software (Movie Maker) helped tremendously. Plus, their enthusiasm for the topic kept them talking about ideas over lunch periods and recesses. I organized the project into the following sessions:

  • Session 1: Pick a time period. Brainstorm ideas.
  • Session 2: Choose ideas. Develop ideas.
  • Session 3: Produce a rough storyboard and get approval.
  • Session 4: Video.
  • Session 5: Edit.
  • Session 6: Share.

Below is a sample student-created video broadcast. I was very proud of how they incorporated modern icons like Justin Bieber and iTunes into history. If you watch closely enough, you will see the very first infomercial (for the Spear-o-Matic).

Authentic Audience

As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, there is nothing better than having an authentic audience to acknowledge the students' efforts. In Michigan we have the Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference, in which all sorts of technological ideas are discussed and shared. During one portion of the conference students are invited to share their projects in a science fair type atmosphere. Since the conference was in Detroit this year, I was able to take a handful of students with me to share our book chats, PSA commercials, and Historical News Broadcasts. Beforehand my students were nervous, but by the end they were disappointed that they only had two hours to talk to the educators inquiring about their technology projects. What a great way to expand comfort zones! If you live in Michigan, I encourage you to check out this event for your students and yourself in 2012.

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What is one of your favorite assignments from the year?

2I2 Trademark 2010 Vasicek That's a wrap!


2i2 is a trademark of Mr. Vasicek's class. It means doing your best with integrity each and every day. 



What a great way to make learning authentic! How many of these do kids do a year?

This is actually the first year we have tried this particular assignment in class. They HAD to do one. And then, as the year goes on, it is always an option when working on a project. That is, they can choose to do another broadcast, a prezi, a rewrite the lyrics, poster, PowerPoint, etc. Thanks for the question. ~Brent

thanks for a wondeful idea!!! my class wil LOVE doing an activity like this!

And it was pretty low maintenance on my part. I love it when they can run with an idea and make it their own. Thank you for reading. ~Brent

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