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SOUTH GATE : Cable-TV Show May Hold the Answers

January 09, 1994|MARY HELEN BERG

Lights! Camera! Answers!

If a group of local teachers achieves its goal, within a few months some educators will be video stars and students will get math tips via the tube.

"Classroom Connections," still in the planning stages, would feature local instructors and students teaching math lessons in a twice-weekly, half-hour cable show on Liberty Cable's SGTV, Community Channel 3, project coordinators said.

The program would be a hometown version of "Homework Hotline" sponsored by the Los Angeles Unified School District on KLCS-TV Channel 58 and now in its ninth season. The teacher and host of "Homework Hotline" answers students' math and language homework questions on the air. A bank of teachers answers additional phone questions off-screen.

"Classroom Connections" will target elementary and middle-school students and will be underwritten by the cable station and possibly local businesses, said Nanette Cooper, a teacher at San Miguel Elementary School and one of the program's organizers. The show's on-air teacher will deliver a prepared lesson to a small group of students and use hands-on tools that help make math concepts concrete. The teacher will answer questions from the pupils in the studio and from callers.

At first, the program will handle a different math theme each month. Later, organizers hope to expand the program to cover English as a Second Language and other subjects.

Students who may be reluctant to tune in to the district's homework show will be lured to the South Gate program by the hope of seeing their teacher or friends on television, said Linda Williams, a member of the program committee who teaches fifth and sixth grades at San Miguel.

Parents and other teachers should benefit from the show too, Cooper said. Parents who may be embarrassed to admit they don't understand their children's schoolwork can learn along with the student. Teachers may tape the show and use it as a classroom tool.

The program format is still in development, a host must be cast and about 25 teachers are being sought to handle phone lines, said Janet Fujii, a committee member and South Gate Middle School math resource teacher.

To supplement the program, the committee hopes to sponsor monthly math workshops in which students can create math study tools such as those used on the show, Fujii said.

San Miguel student Israel Sandoval Jr., 11, who is a math fan, said he is looking forward to watching the show.

"It will help me learn more and do better in class," he said.

As with any production, financing is a stumbling block. The committee hopes to pay teachers $16 per hour to work on the show. Start-up costs, including lights and other equipment, could be nearly $20,000, said Robert Mellonig, Liberty Cable's director of programming. The budget for teachers' salaries and a staff for two or three cameras could reach $1,000 a month, he said.

Liberty Cable officials have agreed that the station will fund equipment and salaries for the show, but company president Michael Green said details need to be finalized.

"It's our project, and we're going to fund everything and support it in whatever way is possible, but I want (the program) to be substantive," Green said. "Everybody's positive about it, but it has to be done right. To be less than that would be a disservice."

Program coordinators also plan to seek grant money and recruit businesses to sponsor the show. An open house is scheduled for later this month to introduce the project to school administrators, city officials and business owners.

Elisa Hernandez, 35, mother of San Miguel students Joshua, 8, and Pablo, 12, said she is excited about "Classroom Connections."

"If I know what time this is on I would have them sit and watch it or I could make tapes and watch it with them later," she said.

Information: (310) 421-4943.

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