SRL Connected Educator of the Month: April 2016

At Cedar Crest High School, Christopher encourages his students to ask the right questions in order to produce stories with a purpose.

His students Jordan Brown and Pamela Kapolka produced compelling profiles on youth breaking gender stereotypes in their communities, with both Atypical spark and Shake it off airing on PBS NewsHour’s broadcast.

Here are a few insights into his teaching approach.

How do you like to receive your news?
I receive my news via “the Twitter” — primarily the PBS feed — and the CNN App.

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?
Become informed about the topic in order to ask good questions, then listen more and talk less. Don’t talk to the most available people, talk to the right people. Teach the fundamentals and then progressively make myself unnecessary.

Would you rather live a year without radio or television? Explain.
Ironically, I do not watch much television, other than news, so I would ditch the TV first. In the hectic day in which we live our lives, it is possible to multitask while listening to the radio. Also, I come from a musically-inclined family and am more tuned-in to the auditory world.

How can student reports help promote a greater understanding of the world?
People are more inclined to listen to those in their own demographic. Student reports empower students to explore big, important social issues that they normally would not try to tackle as high school journalists. When students see that other students have contributed something meaningful and powerful to society’s dialogue about those issues, they are more likely to listen and learn about the world around them.

How can we get youth more interested in the news?
All of us tune into the same radio station every day — WIIFM, also known as “What’s In It For Me” — and it is important to help students realize how the news affects them. Once students see the connection, they naturally become more interested. Student reporting helps make that connection.

How can we teach youth to be more inquisitive in the world around them?
The first question children ask when they are toddlers is “why?”, usually over and over again, but at some point they tend to become more self-absorbed as teenagers and stop asking. This natural inquisitiveness needs to be nurtured. Instead of asking a child “did you learn anything at school today?”, ask “did you ask a good question today?” Student reporting helps nurture this curiosity by challenging students to not just ask questions, but to ask good ones.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?
My philosophy since starting our TV Studio 18 years ago has been to offer students the best opportunities possible to produce purposeful video. Student Reporting Labs has provided my students amazing opportunities that I never thought would have been possible. Our goal was to have at least one story submitted for every Rapid Response. I hope to motivate more of my students to attempt the challenge of the Rapid Responses.