Video Fridays

Teachers, media specialists, and administrators each face conflicts surrounding the school division's new video use policy. Special education issues and community involvement further complicate opinions surrounding the appropriate use of technology at Wasson High School.

Chief media specialist Barb Ivey calls Assistant Superintendent George Sands with concerns about her new role as copyright officer.

Barb reread the memo from the Wasson County Assistant Superintendent. “Unbelievable!” she thought to herself. “How could they do this to me?”

See the memo from the Assistant Superintendent below:

See the Wasson County Schools Video Use Policy below:

Just then, Jo Blalock, the other media specialist at Wasson High School, walked into the library office. Barb handed her the memo. Scanning the contents, Jo wondered, “Should you call George Sands about this? I mean, if you’re really uncomfortable with enforcing the policy.”

Barb nodded, “What authority do I have to enforce the Copyright Act? ‘Barb Ivey, Copyright Police.'”

Jo Blalock

The bell for third block interrupted their discussion, and Jo hurried off to greet the class that was just arriving to do some research.

Two-thirds of the way through the period, the students were active and engaged in research, so Barb seized the moment to call Mr. Sands.

When he answered, Barb got right to the point. “I received your letter about being jointly responsible for enforcing copyright laws at my school, and I have to say I just don’t think this is a good idea at all.”

“But, Barb,” he said, trying to reason with her, “your principal is the other copyright officer. Let him do the enforcing. All you have to do is keep him informed about violations as you see them occur.”

“I’ve read the School Board policy,” Barb replied, “and it sounds like I might share accountability if I see problems occurring and don’t personally stop them Even if my role is limited to that of informant, being a snitch doesn’t sound very appealing for me.”

“Sorry, Barb,” George said. “I can’t help you on this one. The Board has already passed the policy.”

Science teacher Wanda Bolling picks a video for her classes.

Wanda Bolling smiled politely as Barb arrived outside the library Friday morning.

“Can you unlock the door to the video room, Barb?” she asked. “I need to get a video before first block.”


As she fished out her keyring and opened the door, Barb asked, “Are you looking for something in particular, Wanda? Maybe I can find it for you.”

“No, I’m just looking,” replied Wanda.

Barb’s copyright antennae perked up a little. “Maybe I can still help. What is your class studying right now?”

“A little bit of everything,” came the quick response.

Barb’s antennae stood erect. “Well, what is today’s lesson about?”

“In which class?” Wanda retorted with an increasing edge to her voice. “I teach three subjects—biology, earth science, and geography—and they’re all LD kids.”

“OK,” answered Barb, trying to reflect neutrality. “Teachers have shared some great ideas with me in the past about using some of these as discussion starters. This one from NOVA is in a quiz show format, with general science questions. It might be fun for your students to see what they remember.”

Wanda snorted, “Some of the kids I teach can’t even find the answers to yesterday’s questions in their own notebooks! I’m not sure they’d be able to answer questions from a video.”

Barb sensed she should back off. Five minutes later, Wanda approached the circulation desk to check out A Raisin in the Sun based on the novel by Lorraine Hansberry.

Math teacher Ron Tarkington’s student asks why he doesn’t show movies on Fridays like Ms. Bolling does.

Ron Tarkington

Thursdays were tough for Ron. By the fourth day of the week, the energy that he brought to his teaching job seemed to wane. Standing next to the whiteboard with a handful of colored markers, Ron reminded his students about their upcoming test on linear equations.

“Does anyone have a question before the bell rings?” he asked.

Matt Ennis

Matt Ennis’s hand shot up. “Mr. T., how come we never get to watch videos in this class?”

Ron sighed. “Matt, our school library doesn’t own many videos that pertain to algebra. Maybe later in the semester we’ll watch one, if I can find any that fit our class objectives.” Ron looked hopefully around the room. “Anyone else have a question?”

Matt persisted, “But we watch videos every Friday in Ms. Bolling’s class.  All kinds of movies. She says that if we’re good and get a lot done on our computer projects the rest of the week, then we’ve earned a reward by Friday.”

Luckily, the bell rang, saving Ron. Suddenly, he felt more tired than usual, even for a Thursday.

Barb confronts Wanda about the possibility of her abuse of the copyright code. Wanda checks out another video, ignoring Barb’s admonition.

The 3:25 dismissal bell had triggered the usual stampede of students through the hallways. Wanda turned sideways to squeeze through the surge of teenagers pushing in the opposite direction. She wished she had waited a few minutes before trying to walk to the library, but her technology class started in 30 minutes across town, and she needed to check out a video for her classes tomorrow. Her students said they wanted to see something funny.

See one of Wanda’s new Earth Science lessons below:

Wanda entered the library and walked straight to the video room.

“Hey, Copyright Police,” Jo looked up from the overdue notices and whispered, “Better go arrest Wanda, or you’ll both be reading the help wanted ads next week.”

Barb turned her head sharply and, through the glass panels in the video room, saw Wanda shopping for her weekly movie. Barb groaned, but then squared her shoulders and marched off to confront the unavoidable.

“Hi,Wanda. May I help you find something this afternoon?”

“I need a comedy,” replied Wanda from her bent-over position that allowed her to scan the bottom fiction shelf.

“Wanda, do you remember what we talked about in the copyright workshop? It’s a violation of the copyright code to show a movie to your class unless the video is part of a specific lesson within your regular unit of study and involves face-to-face instruction. Picking a movie at random to show to your science classes doesn’t qualify for the educational exemption.”

Wanda stood up. “Some of my students have IEPs that require them to receive rewards for positive behavior. These videos are instructionally appropriate, as they are their rewards.”

Barb took a breath before continuing. “Wanda, I’m just delivering information to you.”

“I need to get ready for my technology class,” she said flatly and left with her selection tucked under her arm.

Barb starts the Channel One broadcast and visits Mr. Ferguson.

Barb checked the clock to verify that it was time to play the morning’s Channel One program. Despite increasing pressure from some parents and teachers in the community, the school board had not budged on its decision to embrace Channel One. While some valued Channel One for its current events programs and the video equipment it provided to the school, others were disturbed by the funneling of advertising to teens. Barb often wondered about Channel One’s instructional integrity, but her questions were usually buried by the tasks at hand. Right now, she needed to see her boss about Wanda’s video use.

Channel One and educators’ reactions to it

See Mr. Lewis’s letter to the editor below:

On her way into his office, Barb mentally rehearsed how she might broach the subject with Alan Ferguson, her principal.

“What can I help you with today?” he asked.

“I need to talk to you about our video use policy,” Barb said, and described the situation with Wanda.

Alan pressed his lips together. “I’m glad you came to me about this, Barb. I’ll take care of it. You don’t need to get involved any further.”

Barb thanked him and left, glad to be out of the Wanda-copyright loop.

Parent volunteer Marvin Jones praises Wanda Bolling’s teaching and expresses his pride in his son’s recent success in her science class.

Marvin Jones

“Here are the brochures to fold, Mr. Jones. You just don’t know what a lifesaver it is to have you volunteer here,” Barb gushed. “I don’t know how you do it, especially after working the night shift at the hospital.”

Marvin Jones dropped his head in modesty and shrugged slightly. “It’s no trouble. Coming in here gives me a chance to learn more about what’s going on with Marcus. He’s a good kid, but school isn’t always easy for him.”

About an hour and a half later, Mr. Jones rose from the table where neat stacks of folded yellow brochures rested. “Mrs. Ivey, that’s all I’m going to do for today. I want to try to catch Mr. Ferguson in his office before I have to leave,” he said in his friendly way. “I know parents hardly ever say anything good to the principal about their kid’s teacher, so I want to be sure and tell Mr. Ferguson how much we appreciate Ms. Bolling.”

Barb forced a polite smile, but did not respond.

Oblivious to her strained silence, Marvin continued, “Marcus never liked school before. He was always getting into trouble with the other boys, and even yelling at his teachers. But he loves Ms. Bollings. She lets him use the computer and he’s learning all kinds of stuff. Getting As and Bs! We’re so proud of him.”

Ron Tarkington’s student recalls with excitement the movie he had just viewed in Ms. Bolling’s class. He also mentions to Ron and Barb that she got the movie at Blockbuster.

“Wow, these are fantastic!” Ron exclaimed excitedly. He clicked the print button to get copies of the math activities that Barb had helped him find and looked up to see Matt Ennis grinning at him.

“Hey, Mr. T. What’s up?”

Both Ron and Barb smiled at Matt’s exuberance.

“Why are you so pumped today, Matt?” laughed Ron.

“Man, we just finished our minerals presentations, so Ms. Bolling let us watch Cool Runnings. That Sanka was the funniest!”

Cool Running?” Barb asked. That was not in their library. Wanda must’ve picked it up at Blockbuster.

A parent calls Alan Ferguson with concerns about the use of video at Wasson High School.

Alan pushed away from his desk and started to stand, but the sound of the phone stopped him.

“Mr. Ferguson, a parent is on line two for you. It’s Joseph Lewis’s father, and he doesn’t sound very happy,” warned Angela.

Mr. Lewis was involved with the parent group opposing Channel One. Alan was getting used to his calls.

“Mr. Lewis, how can I help you today?” the principal boomed into the receiver with intentional cheerfulness.

“Mr. Ferguson, I’ll cut to the chase. Esther and I had serious misgivings about allowing David to be placed in self-contained LD classes this year. Before now, he had always been mainstreamed with a resource teacher for special services. However, at his IEP meeting last spring, his teachers insisted David would do better academically in a self-contained class.”

Alan listened carefully, trying to discern where this monologue was leading. He didn’t have to wait long.

“For the past six weeks, David has come home on Friday afternoons and told us he watched a movie in biology. That’s twenty percent of class time, wasted. Tell me, how is watching Cool Running helping my son learn biology?”