SRL Connected Educators of the Month: November 2016

Kerri Cobb and Lila Michael of Bozeman High School brought their enthusiasm to the classroom, inspiring their students to jump start the school year by producing 12 submissions for Letters to the Next President.

What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to storytelling?

Kerri Cobb: I believe storytelling is a way for students to showcase their creative talents and find a story where often they don’t realize a story exists. I also believe it’s a communication tool that encourages and nurtures success.

Lila Michael: I tell the kids it has to be compelling, it has to have structure, it has to serve the community it reaches and it has to be done to the best of their excellent abilities.

How can student reports help promote a greater understanding of the world?

Kerri Cobb: When a story gives students the opportunity to ask questions, examine both sides and meet new people, that whole process gives them a deeper understanding, but more importantly, it sparks curiosity and the desire to learn more and to keep asking questions.

Lila Michael: Students need to be heard and respected. Their demographic is powerful, caring and they thirst to do social service. The more we teach to the highest level of skill and content, the better everything gets.

How can we get youth more interested in the news?

Kerri Cobb: Student Reporting Labs is a great program to have in schools as it gives students opportunities during the day to find the news that is interesting and relevant to them. Offering headlines in various media formats also allows for student choice, thus more interest.

Lila Michael: We can interest them more by asking them more. So many of our kids are never engaged in the news because adults don’t hear them when they give their opinions. We can model good listening, we can show them quality sources that speak of things that engage them and we can help them produce news content that they care about.

How can we teach youth to be more inquisitive in the world around them?

Kerri Cobb: Encourage them to keep asking questions until they are satisfied with the answer and their understanding of the situation.

Lila Michael: I think they are inquisitive. The problem is the adult world usually shuts them down if we don’t like what they ask. We need to listen to their questions and answer them as honestly and as fully as we can. We need to guide them to ask the deeper questions, the hard questions. We need to empower their drive to get the answers for themselves.

What do you hope to accomplish with SRL?

Kerri Cobb: I hope my students walk away with a deeper knowledge of our community, the complex issues that we as a society need to solve together, a sense of personal voice, as well as college and career ready skills in editing, film and audio experience.

Lila Michael: I want the students to learn to ask more questions, deeper questions, to take in the information and to expand their minds. SRL gives them the opportunity to work on real issues that affect them, issues that need to examined and stories that need to be told. I want them to learn a set of journalistic skills that they take with them after we are done here at Bozeman High School. I want them to feel that they have authority when they speak. I want them to be empowered in their craft and to go out and make a difference in the world.