Sunday, October 5, 2014

Snapshot Stories from my Seniors

I try to keep my personal life separate from my professional life most of the time, including topics I explore on this blog.  From time to time, however, I just can't help myself from sharing something that my kids are doing in the classroom.  They constantly surprise me and make me proud time and time again.

Their latest feat--these snapshot stories.  It's amazing what these kids can do with limited resources.  Most of them don't have access to computers and the internet at home, and so they rely on whatever technology we have at school.  Let me just say that Steve Jobs would probably roll over in his grave if he saw the notebook cart I had to check out for this assignment.  Hint:  not a single Apple can be found on this cart.  Nevertheless, my kids embraced the project and created beautiful Snapshot Stories.

Their assignment was to bring in any picture that spoke to them and to write two hundred words about it.  After much revision, they used the website WeVideo to upload their picture and record themselves reading their words.  Although I had limited experience with WeVideo, (hey--I'm an Apple girl and I use iMove!) we worked through the kinks together to create the final projects.

I wasn't prepared for how much their final snapshot stories would move me.  I read their words as they were going through the writing process, witnessed their struggles with revision, and saw their smiles and high fives when they realized they had found just the right words to go with their picture. It wasn't until I heard their voices on their final video, though,  that I realized just how amazing these projects are.   Those voices, so full of emotion and innocence, filled my soul as each picture became their story, and I suddenly connected with each of them in ways I couldn't have possibly done without this project.

My students happily gave their permission to share some of their stories with you, and so I invite you to watch a few of them and get a glimpse into the heart of a typical high school senior at my school.  **Update:  WeVideo is now asking you to login.  If this happens, try signing if with a Google+ account.

Meet Leyna

(click here) smile

and Karla
(click here) Nebraska

Here's Stephanie

(click here) new beginnings

Pedro and Alexis

(click here for Pedro) home sweet home

(click here for Alexis) go slow

and Angel

(click here) Guidance

Miss Lizeth

(click here) Home

and finally Jeff
(I saved Jeff for last because I just have to share his story.  I first met Jeff when he was in my 7th grade Literacy class.  He had just come to the United State from Tanzania.  He spoke absolutely no English--his native language is Swahili.  For most of that 7th-grade year, Jeff and I communicated using Google Translate, starting with one word at a time.  My teacher-heart is filled to the rim having Jeff in my senior English class and witnessing his growth and the power of education!)

(click here) track star

Seniors, words, and pictures.  Reasons to believe!


  1. THESE ARE AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so glad that I got to catch a glimpse of the beauty that are these kids. They give me hope and, absolutely, reasons to believe! Thanks for sharing these stories. I have to say, though, that while all of them were amazing, Karla's brought me to tears. "Take me back to the CABIN!" is now my mantra. I would love the hard copy of what she wrote. It was so poetic and gorgeous. It captured the LIFE and the HOPE of our own "Nebraska's". (Plus, I LOVE that Nebraska is her place of hope...! She knows a good thing when she sees it! :) ) You giving yourself to these kids so fully also inspires me. They are SO lucky to have YOU!

    Thank you for giving me this gift today.

    1. Kari! Your words mean the world to me, but more importantly, to my students. They read your comment and their faces lit up. Karla had tears streaming--you have no idea the impact this comment has had. Thank you!

  2. Miss Thompson, thank you for sharing your student projects! I love how you took it beyond the normal paper that only the student and teacher read, and put it out there for the world!

    To Karla, Maricarmen, Julie, Paolo, Lucile, Jorge, Jesus, and Crystal (and all the students), thank you for sharing your stories! I loved "reading them!"

    1. Thanks, Peg, for viewing my students' videos. I told them that you are a technology expert, and they were thrilled that you watched their stories. They showed me the comments you made on their WeVideo page--thanks for that!! And thanks for sharing their videos on Twitter!

  3. Thank you peg and Kari for taking the time to view my video. It means a lot to me that you liked it.

  4. I will go ahead and steal this idea ;). I love using photography in my classroom and this is a powerful way to mix writing, creativity, and real world ideas together. We forget sometimes how much our students care about things outside the classroom. This was a great reminder of that. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I don't have an account with WeVideo so I couldn't leave a comment for Crystal. So, could you share this for me?
    Sunsets have a way of making us stop and "see" life in a reflective way. (Have you read the "Outsiders"?). I understand the feeling of wanted to be "whole" before moving forward in life... without going into too much info, life can be great even when the past has been difficult. Loved your insight.