Story. I think this is one of the greatest and most profound words in our culture. Story is everywhere–our neighborhood, our city, our family and friends, our favorite coffeehouse, even our favorite shop or website, there is story layered upon story, some loud and full of character, some quiet and full of whispers–all being written for an audience. And since this is the great world in which our students engage, I want them to have opportunities to explore, experience, analyze, and communicate the stories that are in the fabric of our universe.

Pre-production: To accomplish this, I taught my students the art of video storytelling. Shot composition, point of view, scriptwriting, finding story—we explored it all. Then we began discussing, what story do we want to tell? I encouraged the students to consider telling stories about our community. Kansas City has accomplished ten years of an amazing revival, including bringing Crossroads to downtown. We connected with a member of the KC Downtown City Council who came to speak with the students about ideas, and the students decided they would write the story of the Kansas City Central Library. This was not an arbitrary choice at all; our students walk to the Central library once a week as it is their school library.

Our council liaison connected us with Mr. Crosby Kemper, the Executive Director of the library. As part of our research process, the students crafted questions to interview him. What an exciting afternoon that was! In some ways, it was like meeting the Wizard of Oz. We were guided through the back door, into a gorgeous board room, and had 45 minutes to talk with one of the greatest leaders in Kansas City.

After we had researched, in order to find the story, we had to tease out big ideas from what we learned. The historical importance, our school’s relationship with the library, special events, the staff (helpers, friendly), and even the future for the library. I was blown away by their collective ideas from the research! We then dove into the script. We used a typical two-column script, so students could draft their audio and match their visuals. I organized their shots geographically (to help with production), and we scheduled a shooting day with the staff.

Production: Our shooting day was a blast! The students worked tirelessly for several hours to capture the list of shots they had created. In any creative endeavor, there is a vision. But the planning and execution of that vision, no matter how detailed you get, should never be rigid. Every creative piece needs breathing room to become. So I stressed two things that day: flexibility and abundance. After producing my own video projects, I have learned that no matter what you plan or how many lists you keep, it is imperative to be flexible. Plans change, ideas come, people fuss.  And capture as much as possible! You often only get the one chance to get the visuals. The more you have, the more choice you have for your story.

Post-Production: We learned about voice-overs and a bit about the editing process. And explored copyright for music.

The video turned out fantastic, especially considering this was only the second video the students had ever produced.

Our Authentic Audience: I just love partnering with others. In February, I met with Mr. Kemper, his communications person, and our city council liaison to create an event in which we could celebrate the library and our school by showing the video. And today was the day! Even channel 9 showed up for the event.

I could not have been more proud of these amazing students.

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