SRL Connected Educator of the Month: October 2016

Melissa Sherman is the Technology Facilitator at Hughes STEM High School in Cincinnati, Ohio. She encourages her students to embrace technology as a tool to tell important stories.

How do you like to receive your news?
I’m very eclectic when it comes to how I recieve news. I watch the news through a variety of news stations on television both local and national when I’m winding down at night and if I have the time. I’m more of a visual learner and enjoy watching human interest stories that pull at your heartstrings. I also jump on my laptop throughout the day to get breaking news or to checkout PBS NewsHour online. But, with two young boys constantly on the go, I depend a lot on news feeds and alerts on my phone from a variety of sources to keep me informed.

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?
Storytelling creates an opportunity for students to not just hear or consume information, but to become a part of the story that they create. Telling a story is a form of artistic communication and has been so since the beginning of time. It gives students the opportunity to express emotions and find their voice, a voice they may not even know they have.  

I tell my students a good story starts with good questions, knowing where you want to take the story and never be afraid to ask those follow-up questions to get your story. But for me a story comes to life when you capture that perfect b-roll shot, so always prepare your shot list.

How can student reports help promote a greater understanding of the world? Students are often interested in what other students have to say, to see people their own age voicing their opinions on topics that are relevant to them. I love the discussions that take place in my class among my students on issues they are passionate about.

It so important, especially in an urban setting for students to know that their opinions are valued, that their voice matters. Student Reporting Labs gives our students a national platform to share their views and hear the views of others teens from around the country.

How can we get youth more interested in the news? It’s all about relevance. Answering the question, “Why does this matter to me?” We need to help our students make a personal connection to what is happening in the world. They need to see how these stories affect them and their community. We as educators need to constantly ask what our students think about a topic. We also need to meet our youth where they live in the world of social media.  The information students access through social media is interactive. Students can easily post their views and read the views of others, therefore entering the national debate on both political and social issues. The information is immediate, shorter and therefore easier to process and visually more interesting to students.

How can we teach youth to be more inquisitive in the world around them?
Encourage students to watch more news stories online through SRL, the NewsHour and other resources. Stories foster curiosity. Ask questions about their understanding of the topic and encourage them to express their opinions.

Educators should not be afraid to say the words, “I don’t know, let’s find out together.” We should demonstrate our own curiosity to be a life long learner. Teaching through stories can inspire our students to learn, engage them in discussion and even move them to act and produce their own stories.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL? I am so excited and so proud of what my students have accomplished this past year. They have produced some amazing stories and we have learned so much from our mentors at CET and the Student Reporting Labs. I hope that we continue to be challenged to produce quality stories that our shared throughout our community. SRL has opened a world of opportunities for my students and brought them a wealth of resources. I want my students to know that they have an important story tell, a national audience who wants to hear that story and the talent to bring that story to life.