SRL Connected Educator of the Month: December 2015

Congratulations to Renee Aalund from Turtle Mountain Community High School in Belcourt, North Dakota.

Renee’s ability to challenge her science learners to care about storytelling makes her this month’s Student Reporting Labs Connected Educator of the Month.

She consistantly dares her reporters to think outside the box and pushes them outside of their comfort zones. Her students continue to produce wonderful Rapid Reponse submissions and this year they’re tackling a news story for our Broken Justice series.

We asked Renee a few questions to get her insight on why a youth perspective is needed in media.

1. What was your favorite PBS show as a kid?
Believe it or not, I didn’t watch TV when I was a kid. We didn’t have cable, so TV was pretty limited. I did enjoy NOVA and Nature when I was a little older. Being a science nerd, I found those shows to be so interesting. When my children were little, we loved “Sesame Street.” After all, who doesn’t love Elmo?

2. If you could swap lives with a journalist for a day, who would it be and why?
Robin Roberts. She has gone through so much in her life with breast cancer and bone marrow issues. She never covered up her illness, instead she was always up front about all the treatments so that others could benefit from her struggles. She is one amazing woman.

3. What do you believe are the benefits of training students to tell stories through video?
We live in a world of technology. Kids want to watch videos, so why not make videos to tell stories. They still learn the process of writing and research, but now it’s presented in a format that will be watched by more people.

4. Why do you believe student voices are important in the news?
Teenagers have a different perspective on so many things. As a high school teacher, I learn so much from them. Their thoughts and ideas are unique and should never be ignored. Letting them tell stories is a great way for them to learn and for others to learn as well.

5. While participating in the SRL Teacher Bootcamp, what surprised you the most about yourself?
I am surprised how much I have learned in such a short time. I am not trained in any type of journalism. I am a chemistry teacher so this is very new to me. I have learned so much about a camera, sound, b-roll and lightning, it’s amazing. You can teach an old dog new tricks.

6. What lessons have you learned so far, and how do they inform your teaching?
I have learned so much about shooting and editing film, I don’t think I could put it all in words. This whole process has made me more excited about teaching. It doesn’t matter if it’s science or media — it’s all new and fun.

7. What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?
I teach on an Indian Reservation in rural North Dakota. Even with technology, my students aren’t exposed to as much information as many students. They know very little as far as careers in many different areas. As a science teacher, I try to expose them to many different careers in STEM, but I also want to expose them to other areas as well. SRL allows me to show them a whole new world as far as broadcast careers. I believe that the more students are exposed to, the better the choices they make will be. SRL helps me be a better teacher by allowing me to expose my students to more things. Teachers love being able to teach more things to their students. Thanks SRL, for helping me be a better teacher.