Monday, June 14, 2010

First thoughts

Today was just what I needed: optimism about our craft and my students, a preview of a good product – improved, and a classroom-practical, hands-on and focused journalism review. But it was the story-mapping segment that drew me to the front of my seat. Finding a connection between our students and the looming threat of a global economic meltdown gave life to our first team project.

And although I teach the best students in the universe, I had forgotten the excitement of speed thinking and life associations that occur among enthusiastic educators. Five advisers throwing out their best ideas and building on each other’s thoughts and notions. My pulse quickened, my vision narrowed, and we all smiled as our answers and reactions and more answers quickly filled one page of notes and then another. This is learning, and when Allison Denman from Spring, Tx (above) finished presenting our storyboard solutions, I had four new friends and a healthy respect for the quality of teachers here for these two weeks.

Sam Bidleman
Bloomsburg High School
Bloomsburg, Pa


  1. Trying to find ways to ‘localize’ every story can be a challenge, but it is one that I put to my students each and every news cycle. Because I maintained the emphasis on the ‘so what?’ question that Steve kept driving home today in my newsroom each day, my student found a way to make international news important and relevant to their community.
    Today’s sessions helped me find some new ways to generate those ‘localized’ stories in a way I had not thought of. The story mapping and props story ideas exercises are both ideas I can bring home and put into place in my class and not have kids thinking “why are we doing this?”
    They were both offshoots of ways I already have kids develop story ideas for out paper, they are just fresh and new. Reminding myself what it is like to come up with a great idea, find an interesting angle that someone else may not have thought of and then go out and ask the questions to fill in the gaps is just what I needed to jump start me.

    Michelle Evenson
    Eden Prairie High School
    Mpls, MN

  2. I like the way this photo offers talking room. The crop emphasizing her face and the fact that she's projecting something tells the story even without showing what she's looking at. In fact, leaving what she's looking at to the imagination leads to a more focused photo. To Michelle's point, story-mapping is a great way to address "localizing" a story because it leads to focused ideas that can be reported at the high school level (rather than just relying on secondary sources). I also like the way it helps harness creativity in a positive way that builds community.

    Steve Elliott
    Arizona State University

  3. Hey! That's a picture of me! I'm famous! I really enjoyed the story mapping activity. This is something I am going to take back to my students. It is way better than the brainstorming sessions that we have been doing. I love how it narrows the focus of the stories and how it involves the whole staff.