By Christi Boortz, Curriculum & Professional Development Department
Posted on December 16, 2015
Blind and visually impaired high school students were excited when a new class showed up on the FSDB course schedule for the fall semester, among the usual listings. Technically “Journalism 1,” the class focuses on Yearbook Production, and is taught by English and Language Arts instructor Melissa Fonda. The class has a strong literacy component integrating technology and the visual arts. Students learn writing and listening skills, as well as the aesthetics of photography and layout design. They use email to schedule interviews, fact check, and submit assignments via computer. Also, they use the Memory Book website to upload photos and create copy and layouts. Fonda has many good memories from participating in yearbook production as a student back in her early years—she “enjoyed the technical and creative aspects of making layouts and writing features,” Fonda received state of the art technology and equipment to implement the class, in the form of a giant Apple screen display unit with wireless keyboard and mouse, and two high quality Canon cameras. The class is composed of juniors and seniors, which is just fine by Fonda since “older students have had time to develop their writing skills, they know who people in the high school are, and they have a sense of the extracurricular activities that everyone is engaged in – more maturity overall.” Fonda is also pleased with the cross section of students who signed on, which includes athletes, musicians, artists, and Student Council members. Initially six students signed up, but three more added the class after they heard it was fun. Word travels fast in BHS!
Bryce Cothron plans to be a novelist in adulthood, so he especially enjoys writing snippets for the yearbook. He also expressed appreciation for learning about the various elements of photography, such as composition and positioning. He summed up, “It’s interesting to see how it all comes out. Good stuff.” Jonathan Moran asked himself, “Why not?” and showed up for class. He cites editing as one of his favorite activities. Ditto for student Aaliyah Gisondi, who loves being a copy editor. She admitted with a smile, “I get to tell anyone when they have made errors. It might sound funny but that makes me happy.” Gisondi also took the class so she could work with “Ms. Fonda,” one of her favorite BHS instructors. Roque Moran, brother to Johnathan, took the class partly because it fit his schedule and partly because he felt it would be interesting. The class has met his expectations. Among other things, he has learned “taking good pictures requires accuracy.” And he enthusiastically endorsed the instructor, saying “Ms. Fonda’s teaching is awesome.”
Emmitt Johnson enjoys writing and “running around the school to take photos of events.” He has learned, in terms of formatting, what to do and what not to do. Nick Thompson favors design and layout, but explained that he additionally does “odd jobs, like getting photo permissions.” Vanessa Coleman had a professional take on the “soft skills” she has been learning through the course, stressing that one should “always follow up and stay on task.” She shared her former problems with procrastination and explained “As soon as you get a task to do, you better get on it right away!” Quinn Delong took the course on the advice of Assistant Principal Charlie Crozier. Delong already had some accumulated knowledge from working with Fonda on the yearbook last year. He feels the course has added to his skill set in media, from technical aspects of layout to the softer skills of working in teams effectively, and sharing knowledge with his classmates. He has some advice to offer: “Do what you love, love what you do.” Apple Polonia is the editor of the club section in the yearbook, and through an email interview, shared that she is learning cooperation and interviewing skills. She highly recommends the class as a good learning experience for those who enjoy design and communication. She suggests that her peers should “try as many different things as possible, because knows that thing might turn into an interest and then maybe a passion.”
Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.
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