Learning Module One

Storytelling

The Content Generation Academy logo which is a simple outlined illustration of a building with a traingle roof and three pillars.

Step One

Read the Lesson

Storytelling is a tradition universally shared across every culture and every language throughout history. Storytelling through imagery (think: cave paintings) is thought to be the most primitive version of storytelling, followed by oral and then written forms. Today, we create and consume stories in more diverse forms than ever before, including myriad combinations of audio and visual representations, and even immersive AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) experiences. The rise of social media has taken the art of storytelling to new heights as an innovative way to reach new audiences and communicate at scale and in almost real-time. 

Telling Powerful Stories

Great storytellers evoke emotion in their audiences. They connect with the audience through common experiences or shared aspirations. They make the audience want to follow along on the journey and find out what new adventure lies ahead. Of course we know this to be true in books like Harry Potter or films like Star Wars, but the same is true of the stories people tell through TikTok videos and even well-crafted LinkedIn posts. Fashion influencers draw in their audience through eye-catching ensembles or relatable clothing budgets. DIYers build anticipation via demolition and progress clips, inviting both established and aspiring DIYers to celebrate in their finished projects. Businesses draw in prospective employees through posts highlighting their engaging cultures, far-reaching projects, and fulfilling work experiences.

Capturing Moments

But unlike an individual social media influencer, a school or school district’s story comes together across multiple channels and formats that weave together the unique voices and experiences of its full community. This includes stories about academics, sports and extracurriculars, individuals and groups, teachers, students, staff, and even the community. It involves a consistent practice of seeking out, collecting, curating, and sharing individual moments that impact members of the school community in different ways. From the unforgettable moment a first-chair musician nails a performance she has spent months practicing and the audience erupts in applause to the second a beaker in the chemistry lab bubbles with movement–these moments inspire excitement, anticipation, nervousness, reflection, and growth. They are also key connection points for students, caregivers, and community members. Think of each piece of content you post as a star in the sky. Together, these individual pieces of content become a bright constellation of diverse moments and experiences captured in a way that comes together as your school’s story–its brand!

Representing Diverse Experiences

Great storytelling gives voice to the diverse and important experiences of your students, staff, and community. Telling these stories allows schools and districts to build credibility among stakeholders, improve public relations and community perception, and drive enrollment–even in the most competitive recruiting environments.  

Although Storytelling is presented as a discrete pillar of the Class Intercom Pedagogy, you’ll find that the value of storytelling reveals itself in all aspects of this course. Storytelling is the why behind everything Class Intercom represents. It is the glue that holds together all the other elements that make up the Class Intercom Pedagogy. 

A Values-Driven Narrative 

When you focus on using social media to capture moments and experiences in a way that tells your school’s story, you are not only representing experiences that are already happening, you’re shaping the future of the story by inviting students and staff into the process. Storytelling is a means of communicating your school’s values; as you do it, storytelling itself becomes one of those values. 

When your students and staff effectively collect, curate, and share stories from diverse perspectives across your school community:

  • The story is: Your school is committed to amplifying the diverse voices of your student population. 
  • The story is: Your school is invested in building the skills of students and educators who participate in the storytelling process.
  • The story is: Your school is committed to developing responsible digital citizens–including students, staff, and beyond.
  • The story is: Your school community is not a silo, but a bridge to the broader community and world. 

These values, these stories, shape the culture of your school. 

Step Two

Explore Additional Resources

Dive deeper on this module’s materials by exploring the additional resources below. 

CGTV Season 1 Episode 2: You Are a Content Creator

Video episode; 10 minutes
A classroom resource for students and educators that helps define what it means to be a content creator.

Owning the Narrative: Lessons in Storytelling & Social Media for Schools & Districts

Webinar; 45 minutes
A critical look at the importance of storytelling from multiple angles, including best practices and outcomes like community engagement, stakeholder buy-in, and advocacy work.

How to Implement a Student Social Media Takeover for your School

Blog; 1 minute
A quick reference guide for planning and launching a successful social media student takeover.

Three Benefits of Using Storytelling to Boost Community Engagement

Article; 10 minutes
A look at the advantages of storytelling in a school setting, and the impact it has on highlighting schools, empowering students, and overall engagement.

CGTV S6 E02

Video; 25 min
Executive producer, author, and filmmaker Kristin Sukraw gets to the heart of storytelling in this episode of CGTV.

Administrator & Author Talks School Storytelling, Owning your Narrative, Point of View & More

Article; 4 min
Lifelong educator and administrator Brandon Mowinketo shares how to identify great stories and sharing them in meaningful ways.

High School Students Raise $80,000 through School Social Media & Video Storytelling

Article; 5 min
Dan set to work mobilizing his 15-student multimedia team to produce a series of Giving Tuesday videos featuring people impacted by Nebraska Christian telling their powerful stories.

Step Three

Reflection Questions

Use these self-guided reflection questions to consider this material in the context of your school or district’s current or planned school social media program. Considering these questions in the context of this learning module will also prepare you for the authentic assessment at the end of this module.

1

In their book, The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story, Tony Sinanis and Joseph Sanfelippo remind us that “we want the community to know what is happening, and want them to feel a certain way about what is happening."

  • What words do you think community members would use to describe your classroom/school? Think about both positive and negative words or sentiments. 
  • What kind of words or sentiments do you want community members to use to describe your classroom/school?
2

Based on your responses, write down one or two ideas for stories that you envision for your school/district for each section.

3

Next to each story idea, indicate which formats (e.g. interviews, quotes, narrative stories, a post series, videos) would best convey this particular story.

4

Next to each story idea, indicate which social media channel(s) would best convey this particular story.

Step Four

Authentic Assessment

It’s time to put your new skills and knowledge into practice. Choose one of the following prompts below, then use Class Intercom to execute the task.

Go to Class Intercom
1

Option 1

Draft a post for an upcoming holiday that tells a story about someone or something in your school/district. Include a strong caption, a visual, and appropriate tags. Be sure to use the appropriate brand guidelines including font and color.

2

Option 2

Draft a post that tells a story about someone in your school/district that represents your brand. Be sure to include a strong caption, visual representation, and appropriate tags. Also, be sure to use the appropriate brand guidelines including font and color.

3

Option 3

Draft a post that incorporates what you have learned in this storytelling unit. Be ready to defend your choice! Be sure to include a strong caption, visual representation, and appropriate tags. Also, be sure to use the appropriate brand guidelines including font and color.

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