Teacher Feature March 2023: Rachel Storm
Rachel Storm is an English Language Arts and Journalism teacher at Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah where she also serves as The Buzz News Advisor and GSA Club Advisor. Rachel attended Weber State University where she wrote for the WSU Signpost (student news) from 2017 until she graduated in 2019 with a degree in English Education a Minor and an endorsement in Journalism teaching. In just four short years, Rachel has created a difference with the “Equity” GSA club to provide every student a safe space, a school-wide journalism program to give students a platform for their voices to be heard, and created a donation/blessing closet (“we call it Bee’s Needs”) to provide every student with basic human supplies of food, clothing, and hygiene products.
Learn about Rachel’s favorite StoryMaker lesson, pro tips, and how many books she’s already read this year in our Q&A below.
How long have you been using StoryMaker? One Year. I’ll add: Using StoryMaker in just one year alone has shifted my perspective from “I can’t do that” to “I’m not there right now, but I have the stepping stones to get there.”
What’s your favorite StoryMaker lesson?
There are so many useful resources it is just hard to choose! Most of the lesson plans that were game-changing for my students are also on the Broadcasting Curriculum Roadmap. These really helped me as an ELA teacher with a developing program transition from print media into the broadcasting world. Another one I really loved was the Oral History prompt (working on currently). I was able to adapt that into my ELA 10B class and my students loved demonstrating their information-gathering skills from a primary source in a way other than essay writing.
What’s a media-making tool you can’t live without?
As an emerging journalism program, we tend to keep things rather simple with equipment and gadgets. I just don’t have a budget for cool toys. Most of the equipment I have is from my house or purchased with my personal money. However, I was lucky enough to get a grant from UEN and now have what my kids have lovingly dubbed “the fancy cam” a Cannon XA11, and a set of Rode mics. I use Premier Pro for our productions. I would love for you to reach out to me and share your production methods and how you get your kids more involved!
Links to your students’ work: The Buzz
What’s a dream story you’d like to report on?
For completely selfish reasons, I would really like to do a panel discussion with some of the teachers who really shaped and influenced my life on what inspires them to teach as well as the impact of project-based learning.
I would love to have a sit down with my 5th-grade teacher (Mrs. Seiler, who told me my voice mattered and to keep writing), my 8th grade ELA teacher (Mrs. Greco, who didn’t let me use weak verbs and demonstrated the power of student-led projects), my 10-11th grade teacher (Mrs. Anderson, who gave me notebooks and told me to write. She believed in me when I felt isolated and alone), Dr. Norman, and Dr. Panko (Weber State, who pushed me out of my comfort zones and into the world of academia). All of these women shaped my life tremendously and I think that would be an amazing interview.
Piece of advice for teachers and educators just getting started on StoryMaker:
Don’t skip out on checking out the StoryMaker Tool Box. Join the Facebook Group and ask lots of questions. Everyone is really nice and willing to share resources and help!
Fun fact about you?
I am currently participating in a 223 book challenge for the year 2023. I am on track, this equates to reading about 4-5 books every week. This helps me stay current with Young Adult and New Adult literature to recommend good modern lit to my students. I strongly feel a literate student is a successful student.
Anything else we should know?
From Emily Hope Dobkin, StoryMaker Community Manager:
“Rachel recently presented “Building the Next Generation of Media Creators” at UCET where she shared how much using StoryMaker has impacted the learning and growth of her students in just one year of using the platform. The amount of students taking her journalism class has nearly tripled. With that, she is witnessing so many more students feeling empowered, engaged, and wanting to get involved in local issues that are affecting them as teenagers. Check our slides 41-44 to see what students’ stories looked like before using StoryMaker and what they look like now. Rachel is a shining example of how using StoryMaker in just a short amount of time can shift students’ learning experiences to being more community-focused, civically engaged and all-around more collaborative.
You can reach out to Rachel directly to learn more about how she’s adapted StoryMaker into her classroom. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.