#10- Final Blog Post

Part 1:

Self Direction:

Pursue Refined Questions

While working in this program I have been able to really work on my approach to questions. While working with my group I was able to get to the bottom of our underlying question. While drafting this question I broke up how we could achieve success by separating the steps and I was able to go after different ones and prioritize one over the other. While looking at our issue (Income Inequality) as a group we were able to focus on a more specific area, Education, so we could have a more refined product. Doing this allowed me and my group to choose what to research, who to interview, and how to proceed. In the future, I would like to work on finding questions more efficiently because I feel like the time it took to find our question was too long.

Manage Learning

Doing What’s the Story has allowed me to continue to cement checking my resources. I check emails and I communicate with people to find out the deadlines for my work. I have learned how to accept help much better because of What’s the Story. For example, I’m not afraid to ask people for help when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this blog post by the due date, but for all of the other blog posts, I have felt very on top of when the assignments were due. Although this happened, I feel like I have been adequately able to finish my work. I have been able to set deadlines for myself for editing the WeVideo. These deadlines allow me to push myself and check my progress. I believe that doing things like What’s the Story allows me to experiment and thus help push myself and help me create a product that I am more satisfied with. In the future, I would like to make a mental checklist so I can constantly be sure of what I need to do.


Doing What’s the Story has given me access to people who give me feedback that not only helps me pivot to where I need to go, but help me think forward even further. I ask for help when I reach stuck-points to help me move around them so that when I encounter the problem again, I can do it independently. When edited our documentary, I used specific feedback from my peers to find out what type of b-roll to use and when to use it. Due to this great feedback, I have recognized what constitutes helpful feedback and how I can use it to encourage people while also outlining steps to success. I want to use feedback sparingly, but more willingly in the future.

Responsible & Involved Citizenship

Informed Action

Making our mission statement took our group quite a bit of time. Because we had conflicting interests we had trouble choosing just one topic. After a lot of time and melding our ideas or “babies” together we decided that we wanted to focus on Income Inequality and its effect on education. We had a pretty broad idea of what we wanted to do. Then we started refining our mission statement to take into our audience. We decided to focus on teachers, administrators, and students because they were the most directly affected. Using this mission statement that we designed, we were able to plan out our product. We wanted it to have an impact so we angled it more towards certain people. Hopefully, our documentary will show people what other students are experiencing, how to do something about it, and even how to get help with experiencing the effects of the opportunity gap. In the future, I would like to see a direct impact of what I have done.

Moral and Empathic Imperative

During the time span of What’s the Story, I went to an anti-bullying conference where I learned a lot about empathy. During the conference, I thought about using empathy instead of sympathy to help others out. I used empathy to think about the struggles of others and use it to make a more meaningful product. Talking to other people really had a deep impact because it helped me understand what they felt and went through. When being empathic I used the documentary to try and help solve problems in Vermont. I presented with kids in my group in Rutland about income inequality to educate them while also not being too prying. I would like to use empathy to help others in my community to make a change for the better.


What’s the Story really helps you interact with teammates. If one of your teammates is behind or not doing their fair share, it impacts the group. Being in an environment where this may happen helps groups communicate with each other about their work. As a group, we did not start out doing enough to check each other. As the year progressed, we demanded productivity and reliability from one another and therefore became a better group. Due to this need for reliability, I am now able to make sure I do all the work that my group needs me to do while also encouraging teammates to do the same. I will use this in school during group projects to have a more successful team.

Informed & Integrative Thinking

Interpret, Analyze, Evaluate, and Synthesize Information

Doing What’s the Story allowed me access to unusual sources of information. I interviewed people who had firsthand experiences with income inequality, the issue we were studying. I took all of the interviews we had and I found small common threads and tied them together to make a more complete product. In the documentary, the interviews are building off the stories of one another and making them stronger. Using this strategy I found a way to integrate the most interesting a connecting parts to tell a story. In the future, I want to make sure that everything I do works together so that I can tell a compelling story.

Systems Thinking

The time when we were collecting interviews allowed my group to break up what we needed into parts. We decided to look at different grade levels and got interviews corresponding with each of them. Using systems thinking allowed us to find an audience and I used it to find parts that I needed to do to affect the end result of our project. Breaking questions and areas we needed to work on into parts allowed our group to more efficiently finish work. In the future, I would like to break down everything that I do so that everything is the most efficient possible process.

Claim and Evidence

I used our mission statement as a springboard to dive into different pieces of evidence to use. Using different interviews and characters, I created a persuasive argument that income inequality is something that affects Vermonters. One of the ways we did this was through our documentary. The documentary painted a picture of what we had learned and the interviews were the brushstrokes that made up most of it and put everything into perspective. The mission statement acted as a base allowing us to reflect on it, work off of it, and come back to it at a stuck-point. In the future, I want to rebut counterclaims to cement my arguments and make them stronger.

Clear & Effective Communication

Active Listening

In What’s the Story I listened to others so that I could succeed. Listening to others allowed me to make sense of what they were saying and use it to succeed. Some strategies that I used to help listen were writing down the information said and also making sure that I was giving the speaker my attention and building off of what they said. For example, when we were interviewing someone I would try to remember the most important parts that were said. I also built off of their answers to ask deeper questions and make better connections. In school, I have been using these strategies to be more successful and respectful. Later, I want to learn more strategies that help me actively listen.

Purpose, Audience, & Organization

While researching for the documentary, the purpose was always in my group’s minds. What do we want to accomplish? One thing that helped our group define our purpose was finding our audience. To help achieve what we set out towards, we used organization. We organized our evidence in a way that was enticing to our audience by using personal stories. To help make our documentary we bundled together pieces of information that made sense and worked well together. We made a call to action statement at the end to give a hopeful tone, but also to convince people to help out. In the future, I would like to continue using the organization strategies to make a better product.

Part 2:

I have never experienced something like What’s the Story (WtS). There is less structure, which I consider a good thing. I don’t usually function well without a rigid structure, but WtS is really good at giving you ways to do something different without explicitly telling you what to do. This experience is not done in schools. Although project-based learning allows you some independence, it pales in comparison to this teaching style.

Doing WtS has helped me change my approach to learning. I used to just reach for a 4 and do exactly what I need to do and nothing more. WtS has taught me that there is always something else you can do. In this way, WtS has been like remodeling a building. What’s inside isn’t necessarily wrong, but it’s in need of a change and something different. I have learned that I have to keep on working and find a different pathway to explore the topic. For example, if I need to show my learning I will use multiple strategies so that I can find the one that works best.

One thing that really struck me was how I learned to take a breath and try again. At the start of our group work, we communicated about once over video-call. At the start, I was very flustered and nervous because it was something that we needed to do. Then, I realized that it was alright. Not everything works out perfectly, but you have to do what you can. Afterward, we worked through our struggle and it allowed us to stay on top of our work and communicate better in the future. I learned that accepting failure and using that failure to grow is an immensely important skill and past experiences can really change your outlook on stuck-points.

While making the documentary I learned that everything takes time. Every detail is important and making sense of everything isn’t a short experience. I enjoyed editing and I now know that taking a methodical approach can help so much. In life, nothing is instant. To accomplish something that you can be proud of you must do something that requires time. Making sure that I can appreciate my product is another thing I learned. If I can’t make something that I feel is acceptable, then I should do it again and strive for something I can be satisfied with.

WtS has allowed me to create connections with different people. At the start of the program, I was wary of all the other kids for some reason. Throughout the span of WtS I have forged bonds with my team members and other kids. I have been able to step out of my comfort zone and meet people who I would never have met otherwise. Bonding with these people allowed me to work harder and learn better.

I have also learned that I have a voice. Almost every person I have interviewed has told me that I can do something. WtS is an amazing example of that. Income inequality was something I wanted to learn about. Once I started researching it I realized I could inform others of it. This program is giving young people a way to make a change. Making a documentary allows you to have a product to go public with and WtS helps you get heard by others.

Gabe Nelson

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