School Activities

Civic Memorial High School (Bethalto)

Jacob Carlson, Summer 2018-Spring 2020, Summer 2020 extension planning

Jacob Carlson implemented the project in Honors English 3 classes (two sections each year) since the curriculum already supported a storytelling-based project. The project consisted of a Reading/Discussion phase, an Individual Practice phase, and a Working phase, which Carlson spread out through quarters two, three, and four, respectively. The classes read several texts in quarters two and three to support the study of storytelling, and during quarter three they shifted to hands-on projects that saw students making digital stories about their own experiences. From the end of quarter three to the end of the fourth quarter, students could meet in small groups to create their final project, which was the digital story based on interviews with their storyteller. The phases of the project did not replace the curriculum, but worked in tandem with content. students mostly used their Chromebooks and the Smithsonian Learning Lab (a digital gallery creation tool) to create their digital projects, though a few groups used their personal equipment to make videos or podcasts. Though often nervous to talk to new people, the students were excited with how their projects turned out and several expressed gaining new insights into their communities. With the COVID-19 school closure, Carlson made the projects voluntary; though fewer students turned in projects as a result, those who did shared that they appreciated the new perspective that the projects helped them have during the shelter-in-place order.

Collinsville High School

Rachel Gatusso, Summer 2018-Spring 2019

Vanessa Bruno, Summer 2019-Spring 2020

During the 2018-2019 school year, Rachel Gattuso integrated digital storytelling into her Introduction to Criminal Justice course. In this class, her students interviewed family members about their experiences and views of the criminal justice system. Many of the interviews conducted by African American students with family members reveal deep-seated resentment and distrust of the criminal justice system held by members of the black community in Collinsville. Students subsequently took the audio of these interviews and edited a series of related images to accompany them to create videos.

During the 2019-2020 school year, Bruno integrated the program into her Creative Writing class: a senior level elective focusing on practicing and improving poetry, fiction, and nonfiction writing skills. A conversation on student identity was introduced in a slam poetry unit where students wrote and performed a slam poem that encapsulated aspects of their identity. Students wrote “Where I am From” poems about how their identity was shaped by their family and community. These poems were then turned into online chapbooks showcasing each individual student’s poetry. They continued this conversation while reading The Poet X and contributing to the Padlet discussion board about identity, family, and community.

Edwardsville High School

Lauren Mudge, Summer 2018-Spring 2020, Summer 2020 extension planning

Nicole Pontius, Summer 2020 extension planning

Mudge originally streamlined CTBF 2.0 into her Honors World Literature curriculum for two semesters. Digital storytelling was the primary focus; students created podcasts and videos that were paired with their writing assignments. The first assignment, for example, was to write a personal narrative regarding origins and to then create a podcast/video narrative to pair with their writing piece. Other pieces included combating ageism using digital storytelling. For example, one student podcast considered the similarities and differences in generational humor. Students also participated in the CTBF 2.0 summits at the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities and built relationships with students in area schools and community members to further their understanding of digital storytelling, its place in our communities, and how to use technology to strengthen partnerships across age groups. After the first year of CTBF 2.0, Mudge partnered with Nicole Pontius to create a podcasting studio, The Banter Box, in the media center at Edwardsville High School. Mudge used student feedback from the previous year to create an extra-curricular podcasting group. Students created eight podcast episodes under the umbrella term Tiger Talk and created a website for those podcasts to be published and accessed by the community. Podcasts episodes ranged in subjects and interests, from discussing poetry and literature to music, to school politics, and interviews with members of the school community.

Granite City High School

Chris Hutchings, Fall 2018-Spring 2020, Summer 2020 extension planning

Lindsay Doolittle, Summer 2020 extension planning

During the 2018-2019 school year, students from the accelerated program and students remedial English classes experimented with podcasting about ways the school needed improvement, giving students a new avenue to express themselves. This gave my students the opportunity to create a podcast based on their views, learn interview skills to see different perspectives (from other students, staff, and families), and then develop plans to improve the focus problem. This continued into the 2019-2020 school year, in which students worked on understanding different cultures and perspectives. Students described their personal experiences and culture, read and researched other cultures, and then created audio guided presentations that discussed the diverse backgrounds. Throughout the program, students were given the opportunity to learn about themselves and the community/culture around them. As a teacher, Mr. Hutchings learned how to develop curriculum using digital media and incorporate more cultural diversity into this class content. He plans to create courses focused on audiovisual and digital communication in the coming year.

Highland High School

Sarah Bland, Summer 2018-Spring 2020, Summer 2020 extension planning

The program was integrated into Honors English I curriculum at Highland High School from 2018-2020. Traditionally, this curriculum features canonical literature that explores themes of “The American Dream,” “Persecution,” “Love,” and “The Hero’s Journey” and directs students to produce narrative, informational, and argumentative writing. To integrate the CTBF project into this curriculum, students read young adult literature and used Chromebooks, Dell Laptops, SoundTrap, WeVideo, iMovie, and ShotCut to transform their writing into digital stories. Students analyzed how different generations understood the American Dream while reading The House on Mango Street by Sandra Ciseneros, composed a narrative about a meaningful part of their identity, and used digital technology to make this into a movie or podcast episode. Students interviewed a family member about a challenge that they had to overcome and created a digital narrative with their family member while reading Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. Students also created a class podcast about what it means to be a hero in their community and interviewed community members from ages 4-70 about their unique definitions of a hero while reading Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Korrham. During our final semester, students collaborated with family members to create a digital narrative about their experience of the COVID-19 Shelter in Place mandate. After each project, students created a digital narrative gallery walk presentation featuring their digital narrative, additional research, and books connected to the themes that they built in their narratives. Ultimately, the implementation of the CTBF project helped students connect with each other, their families, and their communities and understand life from many different perspectives.

Madison School District

Daryl Williams, Summer 2018-Spring 2020

Students in Madison CUSD participated through the Community Youth Employment Program, which provides job training, life skills education, and counseling to underserved high school students. They met two nights a week after school for an hour and developed a podcast about intergenerational relationships titled “C.H.E.S.T. The Podcast” (C.H.E.S.T. stands for Community, Health, Employment, Spirituality, and Therapy). Often the format involved participants talking through their ideas and emotions or interviewing older adults about how they handled particular struggles related to young adulthood.

Roxana High School

Jeff Hudson, Summer 2018-Spring 2019

Jeff Hudson integrated digital storytelling into his English technical writing course. Students read a selection from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and wrote lines of verse beginning with the line “I am the one who” about their identity and relationship to the world. Students then recorded themselves reading their poems and thoughtfully selected a series of still and moving images to accompany them. Then, using the “Everybody Has A Story” segment from CBS news, where correspondent Steve Hartman interviews an American randomly selected from the phone book, students recorded an interview with a partner in their class. Students created podcasts out of their interviews, and in the process, they helped the person they interviewed discover and interpret their own story. This led to their last project in which students interviewed military veterans. Students read selections from A Life in a Year: The American Infantryman in Vietnam by James Ebert, which consists of interviews with veterans of the Vietnam War. Many of Mr. Hudson’s students were considering joining the military after high school, and most of them had family members in the military. This project helped students gain a more informed perspective on military service.

Triad Success Center (Troy)

Chris Maly, Summer 2018-Spring 2020

Over the course of our two-year program, the English curriculum at Triad Success Center became focused around storytelling as a way to teach and learn. Reading and writing skills were used in order to better understand the perspectives of people around us as well as tell our own stories to add to that understanding for others. Students began the program by interacting with a story-based video game (“What Remains of Edith Finch”) exploring a family tree of this fictional character in order to gain a better understanding of the protagonist. Then students created their own interactive family tree to explore the stories of their family members with the goal of a greater understanding of ourselves. The second year of the program was cut short due to remote learning, but students focused on the use of poetry as a form of storytelling. The class began by reading and writing poems and music focused around personal experiences building up to the joint project of reading The Poet X with the other participating schools.

SIUE East St. Louis Charter School

Bridget Nelson, Summer 2019-Spring 202, Summer 2020 extension planning

The East St. Louis Charter Highschool’s students were new to the program in the spring 2020 semester and, unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they were also cut short of our time. However, they managed to participate in a few key ways. Nelson taught The Poet X in her English IV class and students participated in the accompanying discussion board via the community padlet. They also participated in the discussion questions under the community thread. This sparked conversation in the classroom about their own community and the communities of the other students involved in the group. In one assignment, Nelson asked students to attach a picture that they believe represented their community and asked them to analyze the photo and its representation in addition to thinking about how people outside their community would see this representation. They planned to take these photos and write-ups and showcase them in both a physical and virtual exhibit.