It’s innovative, it’s investigative, and it’s interactive. Introducing Futures Public Radio (FPR), a multimedia platform for student storytelling at the International School of Beijing (ISB).
FPR is a middle school initiative run by nearly a dozen seventh-graders, who meet each Monday to pitch and discuss story ideas.
Although modeled on US-based National Public Radio, everything about FPR is original including its logo, theme music and, most importantly, compelling content.
“It’s about highlighting the power of journalism to build seekers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers, as well as celebrating community and communication,” explained ISB middle school teacher Steve Sostak.
Funded by ISB’s research and development grant, FPR enhances students’ media literacy skills through writing, interviewing, podcasting, web design, and video production.
Shawn Q, lead interviewer for FPR, described it as a “club” that has evolved into a high-quality hub for digital content since its inception last year. “I feel like all our planning has paid off. Now, our system is working well and we’re producing great stories. We’re all passionate about what we do, which definitely helps,” he said.
“Public speaking and storytelling come naturally to me. FPR provides a useful outlet to improve these skills and, more importantly, pursue stories that interest our community.”
Although run by a small team, FPR’s vision to “think big” is reflected by its diverse offerings. Its website hosts seven categories, each offering something to every middle school student. Lyndon B, the website’s administrator, said it continues to grow as a dynamic platform for multimedia journalism.
“At first, we decided we wanted to just do blogs. But as time went on, we realized there was more we wanted to do and more people wanted to see,” he said, adding that the goal is to include new content in each section every week.
Sunny R, an editor for FPR, said investigating self-chosen topics in a collaborative environment had given her a deeper understanding of ISB’s L21 skills. From the leadership and responsibility needed to meet deadlines to the communication and collaboration essential for storytelling, FPR prepares students for real-world success.
“I really like the idea of providing stories for students to read, listen, and watch – that was what attracted me in the first place. If you know something is by someone the same age as you, you’re automatically more engaged,” she said.
As for the ingredients of a good story, Sunny explains that piquing audience curiosity is the key.
“It has to have a good hook, so that you get people interested and keep them interested throughout,” she explained.
“There are story ideas everywhere in our community. It’s just a matter of finding them – and telling them well.”
The ISB Futures Academy is an educational model designed to inspire creativity, develop problem-solving skills and effective communication, and encourage flexibility and cooperation. The model facilitates learning opportunities and experiences that cultivate these transferable skills and aims to empower students to take ownership of their learning.
To find out the difference an education at ISB can mean for your child; visit their website www.isb.bj.edu.cn.
This post is provided by ISB