Hutto students film educational video

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, January 25, 2012

STUDENTS AT HUTTO MIDDLE SCHOOL prepare to film a classroom scene Monday that will be used in video for a Web-based behavior intervention software for schools. At the teacher’s desk is Beverly Payne, who teaches sixth-grade science and social studies. The film crew includes editor Heath Belser, with the microphone, cameraman/producer Jerry Tootle, in the blue shirt, and producer Tim Fordyce, not pictured.

Eighty-one students at Hutto Middle School had their chance to be on camera this week, as a film crew shot scenes that will be used to help other students across the country work through behavioral issues.

Seminole Productions, a Tallahassee, Fla., film crew that is mostly known for producing highlight films for Florida State University athletics, was at Hutto on Monday and Tuesday. The crew was filming scenes for McKenzie Taylor, a local company that offers Web-based behavior intervention software to schools.

Once editing and post-production is done, the videos will be incorporated into McKenzie Taylor’s software, Alternative Behavior Educator (ABE), said Mike Conder, the company’s president. ABE helps students learn about a number of topics, including bullying, self-control, hygiene, bus safety, anger management, time management and self-respect.

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“We want the students to see visually what the consequences are for different actions they may take,” Conder said.

The 81 students picked to take part in filming at different times were selected because they are good students and had their parents’ permission, Hutto Principal Roy Matthews said. Teachers and support staff also participated.

For each topic, several scenes are shot: a problem or issue involving a student is set up, then additional scenes show what happens if the student were to make a negative decision or a positive decision, Conder said. In one scene, a male student gets in trouble for failing to turn in a book report to his teacher. A follow-up scene shows the student discussing the problem with a school counselor. Finally, another scene shows the student telling his teacher that he didn’t manage his time wisely and hadn’t completed the assignment; the teacher thanks him for his honesty and allows him to turn it in the next day for partial credit.

“The students and staff at Hutto Middle School have been active participants in developing our product,” Conder said. “They are helping solve the problems that they face at their school, and, at the same time, contributing to something that will help many other students.”

ABE has modules for both grades 6-12 and grades Pre-K through fifth, with the content tailored to be appropriate and meaningful for each age group. Using feedback from students in Decatur County schools, who use the ABE software, McKenzie Taylor is developing content for even more specific age groups, such as fourth and fifth grades, or sixth through eighth grades.

“Bullying is a major issue for students of all ages, but it manifests itself in different ways,” Matthews said. “Whereas at the high school bullying can be more serious, even violent, at our school, it is usually more about pestering and hurt feelings. So we have to respond to it differently.”

Statewide, students in ninth grade have the most behavioral issues, Conder said.

“Our program tries to put a dent in potential behavioral problems before they have a chance to get too serious; it’s a preventative measure,” he said.

ABE is also in use within schools in 25 Georgia counties and 20 states nationwide, according to Conder.