As high schools adopt the Oregon Common Core State Standards (CCSS), educators are struggling to provide creative approaches that are needed to meet the CCSS’ call for students to be able to “gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas” and to “analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms.”

Ed Madison, assistant professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), took on that challenge in July. He and a team facilitated the Digital Skills Workshop—a week-long video journalism workshop for a cohort of students at Roosevelt High School in Portland, Ore. They documented the process so that educators could later replicate on their own and satisfy the CCSS requirements.

The workshop explored a new model for instructional learning that blends tutorials with documentary storytelling.

The Digital Skills Workshop curriculum showed educators how to bring digital storytelling into their classrooms, step-by-step. Video modules allowed visitors to follow the narrative arc of three featured students as they brainstormed and selected their stories, planed shot lists and interview questions, scheduled time with their subjects, conducted on-camera interviews, filmed their subjects in action, edited their footage, and finally, shared their finished videos with their families and peers. The website also featured a downloadable teacher’s guide.

The Workshop explores a new model for instructional learning that blends tutorials with documentary storytelling.

“We all love a good story,” Madison says. “This approach to teacher training engages educators in the stories of students who are also learning. It completes the circle.”

The project was funded through a civic engagement grant offered by the Wayne Morse Center For Law And Politics, the SOJC donated iPod Touch devices, microphones, lens kits and a charging station for Roosevelt to keep after the workshop ended.

Karla Kennedy, the SOJC’s Scholastic Journalism Outreach Coordinator, said that journalism can increase new avenues of self-expression that enhance students’ learning.

“Once someone has a voice, they take a stronger stake in their education,” Kennedy said.

Since the Digital Skills Workshop website went live, Madison has seen a positive response from the high school teachers.

“We’re already hearing from teachers that after watching the modules they are less intimidated about introducing digital storytelling into their curriculums,” Madison said. “This is a learning model that can be replicated and applied in numerous ways.”

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