Our Trip to WQED

Wednesday’s field trip has been declared a success!  We bundled into the two WT vans at 8:45, buckled our seat belts, and set off on our first beyond-school adventure.  The van ride was enjoyable as we told stories and sang songs.  Most of the songs and stories were invented on the spot.

When we arrived at WQED in Oakland, we were greeted by Ms. Maria who planned to take us on a tour.  Ms. Maria had obviously done many tours before and was quick on her feet, especially when our wiggly ones were ready to move on to the next area. Our first stop was the radio station where Anna Singer was playing The Greatest Video Game Music. The children were hopping with excitement when they heard the theme from Angry Birds playing.

wqed from Bess Forst on Vimeo.

Our next stop was in one of the control rooms where the programming is supervised.  Even though the buttons were extremely tempting, we made it through without one accidental “push”.

Next, we visited an editing room.  Here we met two nice people who patiently explained the answer to our initial question.  They told us that people get into the television by being recorded with a camera.  The recording goes onto a tape (they had many to show us), and then the tape goes into a machine to play back the recording.  The children asked questions such as, “What does it mean to record?” and “What’s a tape?”.  (Funny how something that was common for us as children, is already lost from their cultural language!)

I’m looking forward to recording the next conversation about “How people get inside the TV”.   I’m curious to see how much of the information was assimilated with their previous knowledge.  We’ll have to make sure that we write down that conversation to share with you, as well.

Our final stop on the tour was a visit to the original tree-house and castle from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  For those who are new to the Pittsburgh area, this famous show was filmed right here in our town.  Pittsburgh holds a very strong connection with Mr. Rogers and the Fred Rogers Company.  For this reason, even though the show has been off air for a number of years, many of our children still know who he was and were excited to see pieces from such a famous set.

Wonka Vision?

As you know, our students have become very interested in topics such as interviews, entertainment, and the ubiquitous television.

During a discussion about TV, the question came up, “How do those people and animals get inside your television?”  The answers were both quaint and hilarious.  Here is a transcript of the conversation for your enjoyment:
Me: How do people get in to the TV?
Child 1: The characters jump in a pot and then they show up on the screen.
Child 2: There is a door in the back.
Child 3: The spy kids sneak in at night-time.
Child 4: They go through a cat’s tummy.
Child 5: They go into the toilet and get flushed down and they end up on TV.
Child 3: People draw on their heads and that’s the key to get into TV.
Child 6: They just try to run through the TV.  And they jump from TV to TV in your neighbor’s house.

We will be supporting this fascination by taking a trip to WQED’s studio tomorrow morning. We will depart from the school at 8:45 and will return around noon (depending on traffic). This will provide a regular morning for any half-day students. The students will be able to tour the studios, meet people who work in the business, and hopefully find out a definite answer of how people get in the television.

Want to catch a show?

The interviews a few weeks ago have inspired much play-acting.  Our box theater has been used at a television, a house, and a puppet theater.  Along the lines of the television, the children created remotes so they could have more control over their viewing.  Some of the remotes included specific keys such as numbers.  Others sported a bevy of colors, reflecting the children’s love of markers.

While in use, the remotes have accessed many homespun channels.  Here is a list of just a few:

  1. The Weather Channel
  2. The Sports Channel
  3. The Hockey Channel
  4. The Princess Channel
  5. The Chicken Channel
  6. The Animal Channel
  7. The Bunny Channel

After the creation of our television/puppet theater, one of the student’s donated a puppet theater for our use.   This addition to the classroom has been very popular.  We have regular requests to “come see the show”.  Mrs. Pless and I are encouraging the use of the white board on the front of the theater.  Children may use the dry-erase markers to write the name of their play.  So far, we’ve had shows entitled, “Puppets” and “Puppet Show”.  Maybe we can convince them to branch out a bit in this area?

(Note: Although it looks like Mrs. Pless and her lap-mate are not paying attention to this show, this frame was taken from a short video.  They were, in fact, a well engaged audience.)

The Morning Show

As many of you saw at Parent Night, the children are very interested in being interviewed.  An activity that began spontaneously with two aliens who wanted to speak to the world, has now become a daily phenomenon.  Sometimes they pretend to be fantastical creatures and other times they are simply themselves.  We have passed on the interviewing position to the students, as well.  It is interesting to note that some children who had no wish to be interviewed have become the most eager interviewees.

The social and language practice involved in this process is overtly apparent.  The children are practicing conversational language, where one must wait for another person to stop talking before they can interject.  They are discovering the power of asking questions to find out information.  The children are also seeing the importance of taking turns and allowing others to join and leave the play.

Mrs. Pless and I were so inspired by this new form of play, we ran out and grabbed our favorite giant box so that the children could move their play into “the media”.  We imagined that we could start an entire project based on “shows”.  We would create a TV together.  The children could make remotes. (Since today’s televisions really don’t have any buttons on them that children would use.) We could compare plays to television, reality to fantasy.  Our imaginations went soaring off into the sunset.  So far, decorating our giant television has gone quite well, as you can see in the photos below.  However, as usually happens when a grown-up has a plan, the children have other ideas.

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Today, the box was instantly dubbed a puppet theater and a home.  While a group of children rushed to the art table to create finger puppets, another group set up house inside the box.    Once the puppets were complete, the  home owners were evicted and the puppets took possession.  The only problem was that in order to hide from the audience, the children found they needed to lie down on the floor.  This made puppet manipulation particularly difficult.  Thus, a curtain was added to the theater.  Now the puppets can pop out, but the puppeteers can sit safely hidden in the background.

As for the dreams of Mrs. Pless and Mrs. Forst, maybe the puppets will hold interviews?