Heart Butte student reporters document solar project

In Heart Butte, Montana, students reported on news unfolding right in their backyard using skills they learned at a News Literacy and Digital Storytelling Workshop. Construction crews were installing a new solar array that would supply energy for the school and for community members. Students made a radio feature that included the sound of construction equipment and wind whistling across the hills surrounding the school.

Listen here:

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Young Polson filmmakers investigate the Flathead Monster

Middle school students in Polson spent the week of their News Literacy and Digital Storytelling Workshop gathering stories about the Flathead Lake monster for a video story. An elder shared the Kootenai story of a lake monster creating Flathead lake.  The students visited a judge who believed he saw a monster in the lake. A museum director shared her theory that the monster was actually an ancient fish. A biologist applied his knowledge to the idea of a lake monster.

Watch the video below.

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Hays-Lodgepole students report on Native language textbook

Students at Hays Lodgepole school spent a week this summer navigating fact and fiction on the internet and creating an audio story about a new Nakoda language textbook at a News Literacy and Digital Storytelling Workshop. 

Students interviewed the school principal, the illustrator of the book, and their peers. The Nakoda language was once forbidden in schools. Their story captures the joy the community felt when about the opportunity to incorporate the language into the public school curriculum.

Listen to their story below.

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Box Elder students produce videos about community happenings

Box Elder High School hosted the first Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital Storytelling workshop of the summer.

Box Elder students made two videos about their community. One focused on the new school garden—Bear Nation Garden. They got footage of the garden intern planting seedlings and pulling weeds. Their reporting took them to the local convenience store, the school cafeteria, and the Rocky Boy Health Center. Watch the video here:

Other students pursued a story about the role basketball plays in the Box Elder community. They interviewed basketball star and Box Elder graduate Brandon The Boy. Student reporters shot footage of kids playing basketball on the playground. 

A Box Elder student created a digital image for the opening page of the garden video. Another composed the music featured in the videos. 

Watch the video here:

The news literacy and digital storytelling projects were made possible by support from a Hearst Literacy Grant and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Are you interested in hosting a Montana Media Lab News Literacy and Digital storytelling workshop at your school? Contact us here.

Summer 2021 news literacy and digital storytelling workshops

In June 2021 the Montana Media Lab hit the road for a series of news literacy and digital storytelling workshops at schools in rural Montana. Teens in Box Elder, Hays-Lodgepole, Polson, and Heart Butte participated. Students at each school told stories about their communities using audio and video skills they learned. Along the way they mastered strategies for identifying disinformation and misinformation on the internet. 

Student instructor Hunter Wiggins made a video about the experience. Watch here:

Students used smartphones and iPads to fact check outlandish claims in popular social media posts. They learned how to determine whether a website was trustworthy by laterally reading and checking out the source’s URL. 

Students were involved in every facet of producing digital stories. They came up with narrative arcs, decided on interview questions, operated the microphones and cameras, and edited final versions of the stories.

Students instructor Dante Filpula Ankney created this audio story about the summer program. Listen here:

By Dante Filpula Ankney

Do you know a Montana school we should visit for a workshop in the future? Contact us here.

PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs at Big Sky High School

In the fall of 2019, the Montana Media Lab teamed up with Big Sky High School students and PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs to tell video stories about everything from climate change to teen pregnancy.

University of Montana School of Journalism students helped teach story development, interviewing, filming and script writing.

Interested in having the Montana Media Lab work with your school on a storytelling project? Get in touch!

Seeley-Swan High School Channels Empathy Through Storytelling

If you went to high school in the U.S. in the last few decades, chances are you read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Maybe you don’t remember much of it. Or maybe it moved you so much that you still keep your copy from sophomore English on your bookshelf. Regardless, it’s a literary classic and reading it has become a rite of passage for most high schoolers in this country.

In April 2019, with the support of the Greater Montana Foundation, the Montana Media Lab helped 30 Seeley-Swan High Schoolers explore the theme of empathy in To Kill a Mockingbird through a totally different lens—their community of Seeley Lake, Mont.

It was part of a larger, ongoing Montana Media Lab initiative to help students in rural Montana schools and on Montana’s Native American reservations learn digital storytelling and news literacy skills.

The stories in this piece were recorded and edited entirely by Seeley-Swan High School students in Lori Messenger’s English class. Instruction and feedback provided by Montana Media Lab instructors Beau Baker, Rosie Costain, Maxine Speier, Eli Imadali and Anne Bailey.

The audio stories the students’ produced first aired on Montana Public Radio on February 23, 2020. Listen to their stories below.

Voices from Seeley Lake

Behind the Scenes at Seeley-Swan High School

Box Elder High School Participates in NPR Student Podcast Challenge

Last spring, students from Box Elder High School on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, teamed up with the Montana Media Lab on a podcast episode about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) to enter in NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge.

According to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, four out of five Native American women are affected by violence in their lifetime. The Box Elder students highlighted the effect MMIW has had on their community and indigenous communities as a whole.

This year, the Montana Media Lab is teaming up again with Box Elder High School to create a podcast episode focusing on meth addiction on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation. 

Listen to the first episode of Box Elder High School’s “Fight Like a Bear” podcast below and check out photos from their recent audio training field trip to the Montana Media Lab.

Box Elder’s “Fight Like a Bear” Podcast, Episode 1

Box Elder Students Visit the Montana Media Lab for Audio Training

The Montana Media Lab is an outstanding learning facility. The professional staff and students at the media lab trained our podcasting team on the finer points of interviewing, production and editing student driven podcasts. This excellent training was well worth the trip to the University of Montana campus.

Jay Eagleman
Cree/Cultural Awareness Teacher | Box Elder Public School