How to Connect through Media Arts with Don Goble

7 Min Read  •  Media Arts

As educators we often find ourselves sitting in a presentation like Media Arts, learning from fellow teachers and if you’re lucky you think to yourself, “Wow, this is so applicable.”  When I consider professional learning opportunities for teachers, one of the most important things I ask is can the teachers implement aspects of this into the classroom immediately?  For the professional learning to stick, there needs to be a tangible application to the teacher’s instructional practice.  

This summer I was in a presentation called the Six Word Story from a Missouri educator named Don Goble.  Not knowing anything about him or what to expect – just simply intrigued by the presentation title – I decided to check it out.  Turns out it was an extremely valuable presentation with content that could be applied in a variety of interdisciplinary ways, using media arts and storytelling.  Better yet, I was able to connect with Don and bring the expertise of an accomplished film and media arts teacher as well as Apple Distinguished Educator to our professional learning network.  

Recently, Don hosted a K12ArtChat about the Art of Film and it was a great one!  (Check out the transcript via Participate Learning) We wanted to continue the sharing by spending a little more time interviewing him and gathering resources.  

Hi there, Don.  Can you please tell us a little more about yourself?

I am a full-time Multimedia instructor, international speaker, published author and video producer from St. Louis, Missouri. I teach multiple levels of Broadcast Technology, which are courses that encompass video production, broadcast journalism, online media arts, narrative films, and social media. I am in my 15th year in education and was fortunate enough to be named the National Journalism Education Association Broadcast Adviser of the Year 2015. I was also named an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2011.

Outside of school, I enjoy having the best job ever…being a dad to my ten-year-old son Terry.

I’ve had the opportunity to hear you say that media has power. Can you tell us more about that and why you are passionate about media arts education in particular?

All media is constructed, meaning it doesn’t just happen. In fact, there is a tremendous amount of bias in today’s news journalism. In addition, it’s important for people to understand that media is created to gain profit, which in turn dictates power. Creative language and production principles are used to gain and keep our attention. Different people can experience the same media arts messages very differently. Because of this, I believe it’s incredibly important for students and adults to view media with this knowledge and to critically think about the messages they consume each day.

Understanding the media arts and being able to critically analyze these messages are being media literate. I’m so passionate about this topic because I believe media literacy is the number one skill not consistently valued in our education system and I am trying my hardest to change this fact. Research suggests students spend about 30-40 minutes a day reading, but a whopping seven to eight hours a day consuming media, so I believe there is a tremendous imbalance in teaching and valuing media literacy education.


What is the “Six Word Story,” where did it come from and how do you use it in your instruction?

The Six Word Story was made famous by Ernest Hemingway in the 1920s when his friends bet that he couldn’t write a short story in only six words. Well, he proved them wrong with his story “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Hemingway would go on to say this was the best story he ever wrote. When I see these six words it dawned on me that we see six words headlines every day in our media. Therefore I decided to challenge my students to create their own personal six-word stories, but I wanted to add a media literacy thread to the idea. So I had them create six unique camera shots to use visuals to support and explain their text.

The project quickly became one of my student’s very favorites because it allowed for creativity, basic cinematography, and at the heart of their videos, storytelling. Once I saw the success of my students, I decided to write a Multi-Touch book about the idea when I was attending the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in the summer of 2013. The book published in February of 2014 in the One Best Thing collection through Apple Distinguished Educators on iTunes. The Six Word Story, Six Unique Shots idea exploded.

Other teachers from around the world loved the idea that they could implement a simple video project to their curriculum, which didn’t require a lot of time to create, and that didn’t require the teacher to be a video expert. Teachers from Kindergarten to Pre-Med college students began to see this project as a fabulous reflection tool. Plus more students and schools began possessing smart devices, so accessibility to video cameras and editing apps made the project incredibly simple, but very powerful, to accomplish.


We live in a world where children are bombarded with media and every kid wants a YouTube channel and thinks they can make short films.  What are your thoughts on this? And how do you suggest we teach kids about the craft of film and story, not to mention responsibility and digital citizenship?

I think it’s fantastic that kids want to create videos. We are living in the selfie generation and kids love to record and be recorded. An entire generation of kids is growing up wanting to be on camera. People used to have anxiety about being filmed or having their picture taken. That anxiety has rapidly dwindled. Therefore, I want to encourage students to have their voice heard and have the chapters of their life digitally documented. That said, there is an incredible responsibility and opportunity to properly educate our students on the digital choices they make. Mistakes will occur, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. It’s called growing up and maturing.

As educators, we can invite media creation into our classrooms and teach students what this world fueled by media and technology is all about. Students can explore their interests through image, video, animation, music, podcasts, blogging, and social media. Kids are thirsty to gain knowledge, to collaborate, and to share. School is a terrific place to learn all of these skills while allowing students the opportunity to reach a global audience as they tell their stories.

However, this responsibility begins and ends with every educator, not just the technology coach or journalism teacher. Each and every classroom teacher, building administrator and school staff member should extend their learning to become knowledgeable enough to support our learners. We don’t need to know it all, but we should be willing to explore along side our students as they figure out who they are as learners, as individuals, and as members of a global community.

Can you share a few of your favorite apps for working with student filmmakers?

There are so many apps out there that my best advice is to find four to six apps that work for you in your classroom. In my class, we use iMovie for iOS and Final Cut Pro X for Macs, for video hosting, and for students’ digital portfolios, blogging and media publications. Of course, other apps will creep in along the way, but these are the four we focus on and master in all of my classes.

What is your number one suggestion for teachers who want to connect the creation of films into interdisciplinary lessons?

Dive in! Offer your students the option to make a short video, an infographic, a digital photo story, or whatever they come up with. Our students have the ideas, but they need to feel the freedom to explore those ideas. Student-created media doesn’t have to mean adding week’s worth of work-time. Take a current book, lesson, activity or unit of study and think about how you could add a media creation piece. Kids are creating outside of school, so let’s give them the chance to create inside of the school. And most importantly, there is support available for innovative ideas, starting with your students. My students are great teachers.

media arts

Thank you, Don!  You’ve offered our network of learners a lot to consider and explore.  As I think back to seeing your presentation this summer and how you ignited a room full of educators to shake off their film fears, it makes me so excited to share your brilliance.  

Make sure to follow Don on twitter @dgoble2001 and find his free download on Six Word Stories.

Creative Wishes,

Laura and Matt Grundler