TOTAL STORYTELLING TIPS OF THE DAY (from 2014-2015)
Memorial Day Stories - The stories that could be told around Memorial Day would fill a library. My simple tip is to enjoy the long weekend, but please take at least a moment Monday to reflect on what our American ancestors sacrificed so that we could enjoy the freedom and liberties we have today. The small town of Boalsburg outside of State College lays claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. It’ll be a big day there Monday which will include a somber remembrance of those who gave the last full measure of devotion to our nation and us. Perhaps there is a ceremony in your town as well – might be worth remembering.
Judge a Book By Its Cover? You Bet! - A custom designed cover for next year’s yearbook is something every staff should aspire for. Why? Because it would put a unique imprint on next year’s effort and really get your storytelling started. If your group hasn’t done a custom cover in a while or ever, you’ll really be surprised at how affordable a cool cover from Jostens can be. I’ve seen basic cover charges from other companies that regularly span four figures; not with us. Please consider it and let me know your interest – for spring book schools we could create a design over the summer or even in September; for fall book schools we have more time.
Almost Time to Hand Out Spring Books! - From my own Twitter feed – “Yearbooks flying out of our @Jostens Clarksville superfacility, some up to a week early. Great reviews from schools so far!” So far so good for spring book schools although I still hold my breath at this time of year. Oh, the shipping stories I could tell, like last year’s truck crash that damaged books from one school, first time I’ve had that happen. We did a mad scramble to print new books and get them there on time. If you’re into Twitter, why not follow me @yearbookScott. I plan to increase my Twitter usage in the coming school year with stories galore.
Retiring Teachers Tell Great Stories Worth Remembering - I was at a school recently that had 18 teachers retiring that year. Yes, that’s a lot. Think there are stories to tell there? If you have retirees this year, why not have staffers get some good photos of them and ask them a few questions about their time at your school. Then post those images with some good captions on your ReplayIt.com website for immediate viewing, later saved into your digital Time Capsule for viewing for years. Maybe include a short video clip of each as well. Kids aren’t the only ones with great stories to tell – your departing educators have years of memories. Let’s share some with your audience.
TEACH Your Kids Next Year - Many advisers are already looking ahead to next year’s effort. And one new item to definitely add to your “to do” list starting this fall is the Seven Minute Starters series in your YBA Digital Classroom. Our Jostens Educator Services staff has done the homework on improving the skills of your yearbook staffers with these great brief lessons on all aspects of yearbooking, and ALL have direct ties to the new Common Core standards, chapter and verse. Each Starter will include a lesson plan and activities. If you haven’t checked them already go to YBA and see what’s there. We have enough Starters for every day of the school year – WOW! Let’s use it!
The Most Popular Spring Event Is... - I was at a restaurant recently and saw a teenaged couple all gussied up enjoying a meal. Definite Prom material. If your Prom was over the weekend, or is perhaps this weekend, students LOVE to see those pictures. Your pages in the book can only hold so many, but your ReplayIt.com website and app can hold ALL of them. Yes, ALL of them, upload like crazy into a category in your Yearbook Avenue Image Library called Prom. For fall books or spring supplements, put the best images on your Prom spread in the book. And don’t forget to snap a few videos of the Prom goers and upload those via YBA to be seen on your ReplayIt website and later in your digital Time Capsule for years of memorable viewing.
Tell Those Graduate Stories - In 2014 my oldest daughter Alison graduated from Penn State with bachelors and masters degrees and with honors. Oh, the stories I can tell from those last 23 years. What sorts of stories can you tell about YOUR graduates this year? Perhaps in these remaining weeks do some storytelling about your upcoming grads, where they will go to college or work or elsewhere, their dreams and aspirations, etc. Tell these stories in pictures, words and short videos – upload it all via YBA to be viewed on your ReplayIt.com website and app. Remember that all will be saved in your digital Time Capsule for viewing for many years to come – imagine how your grads will love THAT.
Distribution Event Ready to Go? - Do you have your yearbook distribution day planned? Too many schools just hand out the books without any hoopla, a real missed opportunity to celebrate your staff’s hard work. Even fall book schools should plan some kind of event – if this is in August it would be a great chance to get the graduated senior class together one more time before heading off to their futures, and it could also be a good precursor event to the upcoming new school year for all underclassmen. For all staffs here’s an idea – when your boxes of books arrive please pose your staff showing off the new edition and take a few pictures, then send one to me. I’d enjoy seeing these and perhaps posting them on my website. Now THAT'S a story!
Sports Over Soon, Have What You NEED? - Spring sports seasons are rapidly concluding – do you have enough images and information of baseball, softball, track and more? If you haven’t done this recently, do an accounting today with your staff on what you have and what you need, then check the remaining sports schedule and get the material you need. The key word here is NEED – never wing it, always have a plan and go get what you want. And with our sometimes rainy weather in the past week I’d say expect more rainouts in the coming days so definitely get out there and get some images from those remaining games.
Do You Know What Today Is? Part 2 (from early May) - Today is National Teacher Day. First, here’s a note of THANKS from me to you on all you do, not just with yearbook but with a full plate of regular classes and probably other activities. I’ve found that yearbook advisers don’t just hold that role – they are also coaches or Prom advisers or Homecoming advisers or the “go to” person for many principals. And you already know that many of your peers have no idea how much time really goes into an effective yearbook effort, for an item that will be around long after many school buildings have closed or crumbled. Kudos to you today and thank you for everything you do for your students. Lead on.
Do You Know What Today Is? (from early May) - Today is the fifth of May, better known as Cinco de Mayo. Even if you have no Spanish or Mexican background you’ve certainly heard of this day, and I’ll guess that your Spanish classes at school are holding some special remembrance today. If so, let’s remember them perhaps in your book but definitely on your ReplayIt website/app with good pictures and brief captions describing the people and activities. Upload them all to a Cinco de Mayo category in your YBA Image Library so your Spanish students can enjoy seeing them online or on their phone/tablet.
Is It P-R-O-M This Weekend? - For high school staffs – is this Prom weekend? Maybe next weekend? The Prom is the #2 event of the spring after Graduation. Make it a BIG deal with your coverage. Do your best to get more than one staffer taking photos at the big night, but remind them to not just replicate what the others are doing. This is a photo flash mob opportunity – task them to take photos from different angles, different people, different focus. Snap a few short videos as well of dancers having a good time, the King and Queen, etc. And take LOTS of images – for fall books or those creating a spring supplement, use the best images on your Prom pages. For everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, upload ALL images into a Prom category in your YBA Image Library for everyone to enjoy right away on your ReplayIt website/app and later forever in your digital Time Capsule. Don’t forget to upload those videos as well.
What to Do on a Day Like Today (from April 30) - Look outside today – yuck. It’s gray and wet and cold. What does this have to do with storytelling? Well, what do kids do indoors on dreadful days like today? Sound like some story ideas to you? Here’s a reminder – you can tell someone’s story with just a picture and a caption, even just a one sentence caption. If a staffer is looking for something to do today, give them a camera and send them around the building looking for students doing fun things on an icky day like today. Then upload their images to your YBA Image Library and add simple captions to them, maybe just name and what they are doing in the image. And be sure to let these students know how to see themselves on your ReplayIt website/app.
A Great but Simple Storytelling Idea - Want to have some fun and teach kids some things along the way? I’ve seen several versions of this at schools around the country – Humans of (your town or school name.) It’s simple storytelling and telling as many stories as possible of the people in your school or town, perhaps several a week. Stories don’t have to be long, just some quick feature about a particular person complete with a picture of them, about all kinds of subjects. Click here for one version from a high school in Texas. Even a fear of cockroaches made one profile, or a girl’s love of math, or someone who cut their hair to support an ailing classmate. This is a school newspaper site, but you can do the same thing on your ReplayIt.com website/app with the story writing done in the image caption box. Think about this for the start of the new school year. The best stories make the yearbook next year but everything makes ReplayIt. Or start now!
The Spring A&S Magazine Has Some Local Flavor - For high schools especially, have you received your spring edition of the terrific Jostens Adviser & Staff magazine? Highlights include great distribution event tips, digital storytelling tools for your students, why business ad sales are more than just about making money, more on the awesome new Seven Minute Starters series, and even MORE. And especially check page 12 for great thoughts from adviser Amanda Pomeroy of nearby Northern Potter High on how her staff is using the new ReplayIt Business Ad widget, too cool! A&S is a keeper, never toss these away – you’ll be referring to them for months and years to come. The best yearbook storyteller pros in the business create this magazine for you - use it again and again. And congrats Amanda, great work – you’ve gone national!
A FUN Writing Activity to Try With Your Staff - Let’s have some storytelling fun - wonder how your writing stacks up with that of famous writers of history? Here’s a fun website that will tell you – it’s called I Write Like, address is http://iwl.me/. Just copy a few paragraphs of something you’ve written recently – an essay, blog post, etc. NO TWEETS, real writing here. Plop them on the website and it magically tells you whose writing you most mimic. I tried this twice recently – and the website matched me with two well-known HORROR writers, one being Stephen King. Heck, maybe I’ve missed my calling. Share this with your students and have fun comparing their writing to some of the greats. English teachers, try this in your classes and let me know the reaction!
Do You Know What Today Is? - Today (April 22) is recognized as Earth Day around the globe – how about at your school? If a class or group has some activities planned, why not send a staffer to at least take a few pictures of their event? I’ve come across a number of school Earth Day activities over the years – if someone put some work into something then it’s worth remembering. Just upload the images to your Yearbook Avenue website in an image category called Earth Day, probably under the main Dances and Events category. Be sure the category is marked to be viewed on your ReplayIt.com website and app, then promote the new pictures online for those folks to enjoy.
Stories Told at Your Distribution Event - Spring yearbook folks, I sure hope you already have your big distribution day event on the calendar and planned. If not, there’s a project for the next week! If somehow your school doesn’t do a distribution day, let’s start one this year. You and your staff have worked hard on your book this year – let’s celebrate your effort with a school yearbook assembly or party or other special get-together. Don’t just hand them out; instead make a REALLY BIG DEAL out of distribution. And for fall book schools you’re not left out here – why not a summer party at school in August or whenever to distribute your new books to your buyers? For graduated seniors this could be the LAST time they all get together before heading off to college, work or history. Setup your summer event before school year’s end and promote it heavily before graduation and over the summer until the big day.
Just a Week Till Easter - I certainly realize that Easter is a predominantly religious holiday and many public schools avoid such connections, but everyone marks Easter, right? The Bunny, eggs, chocolate, it’s everywhere. Any stories at your school related to Easter? Maybe your school held onto its Easter Break despite our winter weather? What will students do over break – take a trip? Easter egg hunt? Yummy chocolate bunny collection? Why not snap a few images of students who have a story, upload them to Yearbook Avenue in a category called Easter, then open each image and add a caption by clicking on Details and filling in the Caption line, then click Done to save it. Or do a quick Easter-related survey of some students with a question, then upload candid pix of those students to YBA and put their survey answer in the Caption line.
The dirtiest word in schools now is... - TESTING – and it’s happening nearly everywhere. Hours of it, days of it. Think there are some stories there? Of course – how do students prepare for the state tests? How do teachers prepare? What special incentives does your school use to motivate students to do well? Lots and lots of stories. Either in your fall yearbook or spring supplement or for all on your ReplayIt.com website or your social media outlets, see how many different testing stories your staff can compile and display.
Feeling the Love of Inspiration in April - The main focus of our cool YearbookLove.com website update in April is Inspiration. Check it out today and look for materials and activities you can download and use. Check out the awesome stuff to develop your own theme, or how to brainstorm ideas for next year, or where to find great new ideas. It’s great classroom material all there at your fingertips. Even if you are a fall yearbook still very busy with this year’s edition, it’s always good to get a head start on next year – and YearbookLove.com is there to help.
Do You Have Spring Plans? - Do your have all of your spring storytelling plans set up? Surprisingly, many yearbook staffs are just running on cruise control right now without any firm plans for the last two months of the school year. For fall book staffs, regularly check your page submission plans and story ideas, and stay active with your storytelling right up to the final week of school. For spring book staffs, some are now busy with their spring printed supplement, but all should be continuing to upload images to your Yearbook Avenue website for viewing on your ReplayIt.com website/app and eventually in your digital Time Capsule. That’s everything spring – sports, Prom, graduation, tests, anything and everything. Go get the pictures to remember the stories, then upload them to YBA. There’s plenty to do even now, no staffer should be bored.
Want to Really Do Multimedia Next Year? - If going multimedia with your storytelling and/or your classes is a future goal, and that seems to be the expected norm, my friends at Penn State University Park have two things to check out. One is their annual multimedia workshop for educators. Only $39 and it promises to show teachers all of the basics of multimedia production. I’m thinking of attending this event myself. And then there’s the fascinating One Button Studio (OBS) idea – imagine an amazingly affordable video studio in your school where any teacher or student can simply walk-in alone, create a top-notch video and walk out without the need for a crew to man equipment? It’s a unique on-demand studio that could be used daily and for any subject. Learn more at the OBS website and also click here to watch yours truly test an OBS from earlier this winter – we just walked in and did it. TOO COOL – share this message with your school tech staff!
Remember Your Assistant Principal TODAY - This week (March 30-April 4) is National Assistant Principals Week. In my travels I think one of the most thankless tasks in a school is that of an assistant principal – the bouncer, the enforcer, the muscle, the person who often has to handle the tough chores of the main office. I couldn’t do that. So if you haven’t already, why not take a moment to salute your school’s AP today? Imagine the stories THAT person can tell – yes, you probably can’t tell some of them but there are others worth telling. Do it with a simple picture and caption in your book or on YBA to remember this very important person at your school who often gets no recognition. Don't wait, do it today!
No April Fooling, Who Are Your Best Experts? - Who are the “experts” you can tap to improve your use of social media and new technology? It’s humbling to say but it’s your own students, right? Teens seem to know all the ins and outs of the latest apps and gadgets. Take some time to start the conversation with them – what is out there in the tech and online world to help your yearbook storytelling effort? The world, especially in technology, is changing faster than ever before these days. Bring your students into the brainstorming and decision-making work that every yearbook staff should do on a regular basis. Then cut them loose to work on the best ideas both now and in preparation for next year’s 2015 yearbooking effort.
Why Should You Be Using Social Media? - Please be sure to check out my March 30 home page story on my website, www.jostenscentralpa.com, on social media usage and your yearbook effort. Too many yearbook advisers and staffs continue to ignore social media even while nearly all teenagers users social media sites on a daily basis. No doubt, it’s the best way to reach them. On YBA click on the Digital Classroom and then type Social Media in the search bar – voila, a list of great resources, ideas and strategies to help you establish your social media presence. And it’s never too late to start – if you’re a spring yearbook staff that has just finished your book, here’s a great staff project for the rest of the spring.
One Way to Remember This Unique Year - After our interesting winter my home school district, Penns Valley in Centre County, is doing something unique by extending the school day 30 minutes until year’s end, ending our school year on June 6 instead of as late as June 17. Is your school doing something similar? Maybe Saturday school? Sounds like a yearbook-worthy story. Ask students what they think about it and teachers what they’ll do with the extra time. Take pictures of your respondents and include them in your book or supplement or just on your ReplayIt website – captions under each image there can detail that person’s response. Upload images to YBA in a category called “Extended Classes,” etc. Novel changes like these are worth remembering.
Need Spring Work for Your Staff? - Another suggestion for those spring book schools that have finished or are about to finish, NOW WHAT to do with your staff? Your ReplayIt.com website NEVER goes off and you can still upload images and videos from now through the end of June. That means online coverage of your spring events – sports, the Prom, graduation, spring and end of year activities, etc. Remember that material on ReplayIt will be saved in your digital Time Capsule for viewing by your yearbook buyers for years to come. And definitely think VIDEOS which add sound and movement to our storytelling – scenes from the Prom, game action from baseball and softball and track, spring field trips, and for high schools it’s definitely capturing Graduation. Your seniors will thank you forever for remembering these cherished moments.
Early Prep for your Yearbook (from March 24) - If you’re a spring book school that has now finished or you’re about to finish, NOW WHAT to do with your staff? Here’s one suggestion – on your YBA home page in the upper right, note the link called “Getting Prepared for the 2015 School Year.” Click on that link for some suggestions on how to keep your staff busy while doing some advance work for next year’s yearbook. And even if you’re creating a spring supplement or you’re a fall book school, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year.
1st Day of Spring Story Ideas (from March 20) - HAPPY SPRING! It officially begins at 12:57 PM. Admit it, for a while there you wondered if spring would EVER come after this interesting winter. And don’t count out another snowfall at some point, we’ve had April snows. But in the meantime enjoy the day and send out photographers to take pictures today – have them ask students about their thoughts on spring, get selfies on the first official day of the new season, etc. Then upload them to an image category on YBA, call it “First Day of Spring.” Be sure the image category is marked to be shown on your ReplayIt site and app, then promote your audience to check out the fresh material.
Spring Sports Coverage for ALL Staffs - Ready for spring sports? Barring snow on the fields outdoors it’s time for baseball, softball and track. Depending on deadline dates some spring yearbooks can sneak very early season action onto their final book pages to submit. For those doing spring supplements, time to get started with that. Fall yearbooks, it’s time to be very thorough with your spring sports coverage. But for everyone, take lots of pictures of spring sports action and upload those images to Yearbook Avenue to be displayed on your ReplayIt.com website and ReplayIt app. Remember that everyone can watch the action unfold there through the spring, and then all of those images can be viewed in your digital Time Capsule for many years to come. Spring staffs, don’t stop, keep telling the stories through the end of the school year.
Yes, Mark The Start of Spring!! - Can it be? The official start of spring on the calendar is March 20. After the winter we’ve had the big day is worth marking. Why not get some announcements made next week and then have some special day at school next Thursday? CELEBRATE! Turn this into a storytelling event – ask students what their favorite springtime activities are, start a countdown to the last day of school (if you haven’t already,) organize some kind of party with plenty of pictures, etc. Ask other teachers or groups to get involved and help to raise everyone’s spirits
Marking St. Patrick's Day - March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day and just about every school marks the day somehow, even if it’s just encouraging people to wear green. Why not send out your photographers to get many photos and a video of how your audience marks the day, what they wear, etc., then upload the images to a category called St. Patrick’s Day in your Yearbook Avenue Image Library. Upload the video to ReplayIt via YBA. With that anyone can then check out themselves and their friends via your ReplayIt.com website or the ReplayIt app and they’ll remember the day for years to come in your digital Time Capsule. And use images in your book if you have room for more candids.
Feeling the Love of Promotion - In March our cool YearbookLove.com website is concentrating on promotion, something that most yearbook staffs frankly don’t do well. Good promotion is far more than just handmade posters on walls that don’t get noticed and morning announcements that everyone ignores. It should be a daily effort to not only sell your books but also to get students interested in your storytelling, perhaps even contributing to that storytelling. Check out the activities and resources for March on YearbookLove.com and see how many of these can be put into practice by your staff from now till June. It’s never too late to get started – and don’t you still have some books to sell??
Here's How to Get/Keep a Yearbook Class - Want to keep your yearbook class? Or wish you HAD a regular class? Maybe new guidelines are standing in the way? They shouldn’t be – in fact, a good yearbook class ties in with many of the new Common Core standards and 21st Century Skills. And it’s all at your fingertips right now on your Yearbook Avenue website – click on the Digital Classroom, then click on the new Seven Minute Starters. Started just weeks ago and developing from now into this fall, the Starters will give you daily material to use with your staff, improve your yearbook effort, teach your students valuable skills AND they tie in chapter and verse with new standards. Take some time to check these out on YBA, then start considering how you can make use of them to keep, strengthen or start a yearbook class. Need help? Just let me know.
Make Great Infographics Using PowerPoint - Want to make some great infographics but don’t have a program handy to create them? I bet you do – Microsoft PowerPoint. You can use that program to create a slide with various graphic, picture and text elements, then save that slide as an image to then place on a page. Create shapes or try using the Smart Art feature to spice up your info. Do a quick web search on using PowerPoint to create infographics and you’ll find a number of links with tips on creating graphics from simple to complex.
Great Storytelling in the new Jostens Look Book - High school advisers, if I’m correct you received a package from Jostens on February 28, the brand new 2014 Look Book. It’s the best of the best with great design work from schools across North America from the past year. Check out awesome page designs, cool covers, terrific photos and more. See how top yearbook staffs did some outstanding storytelling with tons of examples. Show it to your staff, ask them to find examples of work they’d like to mimic. And a salute again to West Branch High in Clearfield County who made the Look Book for the second year in a row – check page 210. Congrats to adviser Jess Levonick and her hardworking staff!
Create Infographics to Liven Up Your Pages - A good yearbook contains not just pictures but lots of information on your school and its people. When writing or lists of statistics gets boring, consider creating infographics to impart that information. Incorporate pictures, graphics or icons to help illustrate the info. Pick up magazines or even textbooks and you’ll see infographics everywhere. Create your infographics in pieces right on your yearbook page, or consider using a graphics program like Illustrator to create the infographic, then save it as one image to place on your yearbook page like you would a photo. VOILA – now you have a much more interesting read! Create and use them regularly throughout your book. Click here to see some examples – keep yours much smaller and simpler than these, probably on a single topic, but it illustrates the idea.
Great Page Design Can Be Found... - Get some inspiration for great page designs in popular magazines. The pros who do this work (and are well paid!) often use modular design to work a number of stories onto one page or spread. Hit the library for the standards (Sports Illustrated, Time, ladies mags, etc.) or more modern fare (my current favorite is called Fast Company which reports on tech trends.) It’s the rare student who is a good designer. Use some of our cool ready-made templates, or mimic or adapt what the pros do in magazines, to create some great designs that your audience will enjoy reading for years to come.
Playoff Time Means LOTS of Pictures - February and March means playoff time for basketball and wrestling and other winter sports – are your photographers busy covering your teams and athletes? Urge them to take MANY pictures of EVERYTHING, something most students DON’T do. Professional sports photographers take a ton of images knowing that the great majority of them will go unused. Urge your photographers to do the same – and snap a few short videos as well. Upload your pictures to your Yearbook Avenue website and the videos via YBA to ReplayIt for viewing by your audience now and years into the future. Then use the best image(s) on your yearbook pages for that sport.
Proper Color Helps Tell Stories - Telling stories with color? It should be a key ingredient of your storytelling on your yearbook pages, yet most folks really don’t know how to use it. If you haven’t checked this already be sure to view the cool Jostens website www.yearbooklove.com. The site is dedicated to color usage in February – note the ideas and attached files there to help you and your staff understand how to effectively use color in your book, how to recognize what colors to use and how colors work together. For spring books especially, even if it’s rather late in the game to make any changes for this year be sure to keep this information for next year’s book.
Look Book App 2014 Update Now Available - Want a LOT of great new storytelling ideas? If you own an iPhone or iPad, the Jostens Look Book app has just been updated with the material from our brand new 2014 Edition, coming to high school advisers in the next few weeks. See awesome covers, great page layouts and much more in this fantastic mobile app. If you don’t have the FREE app, download it today from the Apple App Store. Then you’ll have the best of the best in your pocket or bag anytime for easy reference. And congrats to the staff at West Branch High in Clearfield County for earning a spot in the Look Book for the second year running! YTO schools, be ready to enter page designs in this year’s design contest very soon.
What's the Most Educational Class in Your Entire School? - The week of February 16-22 is marked as Scholastic Journalism Week across America. The Journalism Education Association (JEA) proudly marks this week with various activities especially for student journalism staffs, including yearbook. I’m a Certified Journalism Educator (CJE) and a JEA member, and if you’ve read ANY of my stuff this year about yearbook and storytelling, you know I’m a huge supporter of student journalism because it should tell so many stories, great and small, and it is tremendously educational. A well run and active student journalism effort ties in directly to Common Core and 21st Century Skills and could/should be one of the most instructive classes in your school. For yearbook, newspaper or broadcast (and I have experience in all three) I would welcome the chance to help you really start developing your student journalism program now and next year, high school and jr. high/middle and even elementary. Please give me a reply if you’d be interested, let's talk about it sometime.
Remember the Winter - Snow, snow and more SNOW – we haven’t had a winter like this in years. Have you remembered it in your yearbook and on your ReplayIt website? Sledding, skiing, snowmen, below zero, snow days, MOUNDS of snow, maybe extended school year, probably more. There’s still plenty of snow out there but it will start warming up at some point soon and the melt will begin. Send your photographers outside to get plenty of shots around school and around town, then upload them to a folder in your Yearbook Avenue Image LIbrary marked to be viewed on ReplayIt.
History Storytelling TODAY - I like history and I know that today, February 12, is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. If one of your history teachers has special activities today, why not remember them with some pictures of the action and perhaps a video to remember the story? Upload them to Yearbook Avenue for some great viewing on your ReplayIt site and later in your digital Time Capsule. I bet your teacher(s) would be very appreciative.
Get Social with Jostens - Here’s a storytelling tip that will keep giving every day – check out one or all of the three Jostens social media channels that are frequently updated with fresh material to help you and your staff with all kinds of great ideas and examples all year long. Here’s the list, take your pick...
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jostensyearbook. I'm a Twitter guy too, @yearbookScott.
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jostensyearbook. REALLY like this site, lots of great info!
And don’t forget the cool Yearbook Love website at www.yearbooklove.com. TONS of awesome stuff here for your class or group use.
Ask Your Students for Mobile App Advice - It’s humbling but true – kids know more about apps, smartphones and tablet usage than we older folks. So put the challenge to your staffers – what apps can be used to improve your yearbook storytelling? And preferably FREE apps. Picture taking and editing, video recording and editing, voice dictation to text (try Siri or Dragon Dictation), and other apps that I bet your kids know and you don’t. Don’t forget the Jostens ReplayIt app – tell all your staffers to load that app on their smartphone or tablet for quick remote picture taking and uploading to your YBA site and viewing on ReplayIt. And for iPad users, time to start using the Jostens Yearbookers Field Kit app, just too cool not to use.
Try Google Drive for Common File Work - Many schools now use Google Drive for various aspects of school life, and you can use it for your yearbook storytelling work. Those using iPhones or iPads or Android devices can take advantage of quick connections to common files via Google Drive, a real time saver. Click here to check out this story from the JEA Digital Media group to learn more.
Get Some Delicious Video - I’ve mentioned many times here that multimedia storytelling must include videos to add sound and movement to our storytelling. Using a mobile Apple device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch,) an interesting app to use is called Videolicious. This cool FREE app allows the user to do editing on the fly and even create video packages. Click here to jump to a website link from the JEA Digital Media group with plenty of information on this pretty cool tool.
Go Multimedia and Impress The Brass - Remember videos for your ReplayIt.com website, the more the better. Videos add sound and movement to our storytelling, making for a more multimedia experience for your students. There are many new buzzwords in education in recent years and multimedia is one of them. Here’s your chance to not only offer your students a great yearbook AND a great online experience for many years to come, but you can also score some points with your administration in how you are using multimedia in a constructive, educational, memory keeping way.
Winter Sports Coverage Complete? - Winter sports seasons are over halfway done now – how many action pictures do you have of your winter teams? Too many yearbook staffs have someone go to just ONE game, match or meet all season and then create their storytelling page from the images from that one event. Imagine someone trying to cover a college or professional sports team by going to just ONE game. That doesn’t do justice to the months of hard work from the coaches and athletes on your teams. Make a strong effort to have staffers attend at least two or three remaining games, matches or meets this season and get fresh pictures there of as many different athletes as possible. Remember, our storytelling idea is to cover as many different people as possible, not the same people over and over.
How MANY Students are You Covering? - Our Jostens YearTech Online page creation tool, the only one in the business with its own official U.S. Patent, includes image tagging, facial recognition and the fantastic Coverage Report. Hopefully your storytelling this year has included a wide variety of people in your school, not just yearbook staffers and their friends or the “popular” kids. If you haven’t already, make image tagging a mandatory part of your yearbook work for the rest of the school year – every single image used on a page. Then check your Coverage Report frequently to chart your student coverage so far – and which students still haven’t bought a copy of your book.
Great Storytelling Strategy - How can you get more coverage of more students this year? Here’s an idea from my friends Jill Gastrock and Erin Szentesy at Wellsboro High – “Lately for our story starters we wander the halls looking for quick question/answers & quick snag a picture (for our mods across the top of the pages this year). We go to study halls so we don’t interrupt regular classes. We have been known to hang out in the main office, guidance office and nurse’s office (entered through the guidance office so we sometimes get those random people) to encounter those who aren’t in study hall at that time, but help us with our coverage report.” Some great ideas there. The key is to make a commitment to cover as many different people as possible, then go out and do it, featuring everyone in your book and/or your ReplayIt website. With this idea a yearbooking staff should never be bored and always active.
Do Tattoos Tell a Story? - Tattoos are probably more popular now than ever, and I’m seeing them more and more in yearbooks. My friend Jess McKendrick, adviser at Clearfield County Career and Tech Center, plans to make this part of their storytelling this year. “Our students have them and they are proud to show them to everyone, whether we like it or not. So we are going to have students submit pics of their tattoos and then we will have a layout that has a match with the tattoo and the student’s name. A page of their body art, appropriate body locations only.....” Yes, I’d say definitely be sure to have those restrictions, but tattoos are graphic storytelling images – why not remember them? If they don’t make the book they will certainly make interesting viewing on ReplayIt.
One Adviser's Ideas on Getting Great Videos - Yearbooking, the new world of yearbook and memory keeping, now includes your ReplayIt.com website, your digital Time Capsule and VIDEOS viewed there. Videos add sound and movement to your stories. And it’s EASY to get great videos that your students will enjoy watching now and many years into the future. My friend Aaron Hileman, adviser at Central High in Blair County, has done a great job of taking short videos this year and uploading them via YBA to ReplayIt (nearly 50 videos by mid January.) Click here for a Word file with great ideas from Aaron. Share this with staffers and then let’s get started compiling and showcasing YOUR long list of storytelling videos from now through the end of the school year. Never too late to start!
MLK Day Coverage - Many schools have the upcoming Martin Luther King Day (January 20) off from classes but will still have various educational events or ceremonies to honor the civil rights leader, or perhaps it will be special studies in certain classes. Get your staffers to take pictures and write just a little copy on how your school remembers Dr. King – if it doesn’t make your yearbook there’s always plenty of room on your ReplayIt website and app which is later saved in your digital Time Capsule.
Covering the Winter Dance - Many high schools and junior highs/middle schools have some kind of winter dance each year, usually in January I’ve found. Many of these are semi-formals and the girls especially love to dress up for such an affair. Have some staffers there and try the photo flash mob idea – different people taking pictures from different angles of the same event at the same time. Upload the best or upload them all to a Winter Dance image category on your Yearbook Avenue website for everyone to enjoy on your ReplayIt website and app. And when a particular upbeat song has everyone on the dance floor, someone snap a short video of the action for viewing on ReplayIt as well.
Telling Some Academic Stories - The end of the first semester or second marking period is coming up fast. At many high schools this usually means end of semester finals, a pretty big story to tell. Get your staffers to brainstorm some story ideas attached to this – how do students study for finals? What is the importance? What class has the most difficult final? Gather pictures, words and videos and upload to Yearbook Avenue for display on your ReplayIt website, with the best pictures and stories perhaps making it to a yearbook page this year.
Build, or ReBuild, Your Yearbook Team - Our cool YearbookLove.com website features team building for the month of January, and who couldn’t use that? With the second semester/third marking period coming soon, perhaps your students are changing classes and new kids are coming in. Or maybe your staff just needs a jump start after the holiday break. Check out the great ideas for getting your staff to work better together, valuable at any time of the year. And while you’re on the site, check out earlier ideas, items to download and educational tie-ins on all the key aspects of yearbooking.
Return of the Selfies - I’m sure that many students received a smartphone or tablet for Christmas and they’ve been busy taking pictures of themselves. Several yearbook staffs have told me they have had or will have selfie contests for kids to use ReplayIt to send in their shots. With a contest you can pick a winner at random or ask art or photography teachers to choose the best images through Yearbook Avenue. No, these images might not make your book but students will always enjoy seeing themselves on ReplayIt and for years to come in your digital Time Capsule. So why not encourage them to send in their shots? Just create a YBA Image Category called Selfies and put them all in there for their enjoyment.
Restart Your Storytelling Right Now, Today - (from January 6) Welcome back – with our weather last week I decided to wait till today to restart the daily tips. But today is a GREAT DAY to gather stories – students are excited to be back, many of them with some item from their Christmas celebration to show their friends. Ask your staffers to have cameras at the ready and take many pictures of the first school day(s) of 2014, a story in itself. Just getting classes restarted today is a story idea – how can you and your staff tell the story in pictures, words, and videos on your ReplayIt website?
Remember This WEATHER? Absolutely! - Last Saturday (December 14) I enjoyed watching a good old fashioned Pennsylvania snowstorm outside my window, thankfully without any worries about having to hit the roads, who’s closed today, etc. There may or may not be anything to this “global warming” talk but some pictures and short videos of a Pennsylvania winter day might be a real memory maker for your students years from now, saved in your digital Time Capsule. Will they be in some warm area or even another country? Calling up your pictures and videos of their teen years would be a powerful reminder of their formative school days.
Try This Fun Photo Idea This Week - To paraphrase the song, all I want for Christmas is a photo flash mob, and if you’re having some big holiday event this final week before the break, consider this fun and productive idea. Outfit all of your staffers with a camera, even a camera phone, and have them all take shots of the event at the same time. Instruct them to all take different pictures, from different angles, of different people, wide shots and close ups, all over the same period of time. Have someone snap a short video or two as well. A concert, a Christmas party, or just Christmas lunch in the cafeteria, gets everyone involved in the idea of huge coverage of a single event. Then upload the images and videos to Yearbook Avenue for everyone to enjoy on your ReplayIt.com website.
Remembering Christmas Memories - In my recent travels I’ve seen plenty of Christmas-related decorations and events at every school – door decorating, concerts, someone dressed as Santa, "ugly sweater" contests, special lunch items (hopefully tasty), perhaps even snowball fights (not so rough please.) The obvious question – do you have pictures of ALL of these items to remember forever? You may not have room in your yearbook for most of this, but you’ll ALWAYS have room on your ReplayIt.com website and app. Urge your students to get lots of pictures and short videos of all the decorations and festivities and upload them for all to enjoy. Think about it – many folks put a lot of time into creating those Christmas memories. Don’t they deserve to be remembered?
A Little Tweeting Can Go a Long Way - I had an interesting conversation with a yearbook staff this week on social media. They told me that Facebook is now for “older people” and teens are now latching on to Twitter. Very interesting because I agree. But is your staff making use of social media to help tell your stories AND promote your yearbook this year? Even if such sites are blocked in school, kids don’t check it out there anyway – they do so after hours and that is where and when your staff should run your own Twitter campaign. My friends at Juniata Valley High are already doing a great job @jvhsyearbook. Perhaps follow them online and see what I mean, then get your staff to begin using social media like Twitter for YOUR effort. And oh yeah, it’s FREE!
Many Pictures are the Key - Take pictures, take pictures, take pictures – it’s a message I’ve been giving yearbook students all year long. With the combination of your book and your ReplayIt.com website and app, now you can display almost unlimited images of your people and activities (and now videos as well on your ReplayIt site.) So let’s DO IT - encourage your students to take fresh images EVERY day, in EVERY way, and not a handful of images – take MANY shots from different angles, closeups and wider shots, from up high and down low. Then load them all to Yearbook Avenue in folders marked to show on ReplayIt and be sure to always promote fresh images to your audience to have them check them out. Use the best on your yearbook pages.
Watch This Video on Storytelling - Shannon Williams is one of our very talented Jostens CAMs (Creative Account Managers) who helps lead staffs across America with yearbook creation and storytelling. If you haven’t yet, please take some time to view Shannon’s online video on yearbook storytelling and get some great ideas and inspiration to lead your staff in less than five minutes. On YBA click on the Digital Classroom, then Videos, then Journalism and scroll down to the Storytelling video.
Get Video Help from Other Groups - If you have any AV or media classes and they are looking for more advanced video work, your ReplayIt.com website gives them a great outlet to display their efforts. Get together with your AV or media teacher counterpart and share the idea of having their students create videos to post on ReplayIt. Challenge the students’ creativity – have them produce short stories on individual students with a unique talent (top athletes, great musicians, student actors, those with an interesting hobby, someone who took a cool vacation overseas with pictures, etc.) The students can create the videos for a class grade, then their work can be viewed by ReplayIt viewers now and eventually your digital Time Capsule viewers for many years to come.
Go Multimedia with Videos - For my special ReplayIt Contest one of the goals is to upload at least 10 videos via YBA to be viewed on your ReplayIt.com website. Keep them short, four minutes or less for each video. Get videos of different parts of student life – sports games, academic and club activities, concerts, life in the halls, life around town, teachers too. It can be produced videos with titles and editing, or just good raw video straight from the camera. Make sure it’s not the same people over and over – spread the wealth of your video and picture coverage. There’s no limit to how many videos you can display on ReplayIt and later saved in your digital Time Capsule. Kids love watching videos so let’s REALLY tell some stories this year!
December is for Writing - Have you checked out the cool YearbookLove.com website yet? On the monthly schedule December is for writing, by far the most overlooked part of yearbooking. Over the years I’ve lost count of the eye rolls that students have given me when I mention yearbook writing. Kids just don’t understand that they’ll start forgetting things a few years after they leave school, especially names and recaps of activities. Writing fills in those future blanks for every reader and makes any yearbook effort worth its weight in gold. And can you truly tell stories without writing?
ReplayIt Ads Tell Local Business Stories - Hopefully you’ve noticed the message in the upper right area of your Yearbook Avenue home page for the new ReplayIt Business Ad Widget – click on that YBA link for more info. Here’s where you can help local businesses tell THEIR stories with an advertisement and earn some much needed $$ on the side. I see ads on ReplayIt as being much more valuable than in your yearbook – after all, they’ll be visible every single time ANYONE checks out your ReplayIt site. No one reads the ads in the book – EVERYONE will see the ads on ReplayIt, and often. For this year my suggestion is to offer an ad on ReplayIt included with a regular book ad, then perhaps consider charging extra next year. Need help with this? Drop me a line anytime.
Yearbooking Should Tell Town Stories, Too - As I tell many yearbook staffs, a yearbook is not the story of a building. It’s the story of the people in the building – and the story of your town as well. Get your staffers to get lots of pictures around your town and area, then find ways to use those images and especially on your ReplayIt.com website/app. Think about it – will your town be the same 20 or more years from now? Probably not. Here’s the chance for you and your staff to remember your town and area for folks to look back on for many years to come. And with Thanksgiving break coming up your kids will have some free time to get around the neighborhood to gather that material. Encourage them to do so over the vacation.
Watch The Video on Yearbook and Education - Yearbook should be a great educational experience for students. Want some proof? Please watch the special video on the home page here. In the left column look for the link for Yearbook – The Ultimate Education Experience. Only four minutes long, this video makes the case on why yearbook should be a regular class at any school. Play this one for an administrator or share the link with them. Active regular storytelling by your staffers, in the yearbook and ReplayIt or in newspaper or broadcast, will teach them valuable skills they’ll use for a lifetime.
The Value of Student Journalism - Student journalism is a tremendous teaching opportunity for you and a great learning opportunity for your students. Sadly, we here in Pennsylvania don’t do well in this category. The recent PSPA convention in Harrisburg had only 20 schools statewide attending, and the JEA fall convention in Boston last week had only a handful from PA attending despite total attendance over 5,000 people. Yet students can learn many worthwhile skills from yearbook and journalism, from writing to computer usage to research to public speaking to leadership and teamwork. I have 32 years of journalism experience in all fields (yearbook, print, radio, TV, web.) Interested in getting a REAL student journalism program going at your school? Please give me a reply, let’s meet sometime soon and talk about it.
Thanksgiving Stories Worth Remembering - As Thanksgiving approaches, what are you thankful for? What are your students thankful for? Sound like some great stories there? Maybe you won’t have a Thanksgiving page in your yearbook but you CAN have a Thanksgiving section on your ReplayIt website – just tag images of people for Thanksgiving and include their stories as online captions included with each image. Or consider short videos of students’ stories. Remember that all ReplayIt material is saved in your digital Time Capsule at school year’s end – imagine seeing those stories online for many years to come. It’s not too late to get started…
The 21st Century Yearbook - Check out this great story from the JEA Digital Media website called “The 21st Century yearbook demands embracing digital media.” Sarah Nichols, one of the best yearbook advisers in the country and a former national adviser of the year, makes the argument that yearbooking is now much more than the printed page, and staffs need to use all the digital tools at their disposal to tell the stories of the school year. Gee, who does that sound like? I’m not the only one pushing for Total Storytelling in any way and every way possible – many of the top schools in America are doing the exact same thing right now.
Photo Captions Tell Great Stories Easily - There’s no better way to tell stories in your yearbook and on your ReplayIt.com website/app than with well written photo captions. And it’s EASY, even for younger students – click here to download my tip sheet for writing good captions. The simple rule is who is this person/these people in the image and what are they doing here. You can do that in one sentence. But consider writing longer captions to add more details about the person/people/team/group/event. Show your staff my special online video on caption writing via my website here as I lead them through writing a caption (click my video link in the left column of my home page.) In around 15 minutes you’ll have them writing great captions – then cut them loose to write captions in your book and on ReplayIt all year long.
Pictures, Pictures, ALWAYS Take Pictures - Yes, it’s true – lots of pictures of anyone and everyone in your yearbook and especially on ReplayIt are a good thing, and the more the merrier. Your ReplayIt viewers, either on the website or the smartphone app, especially want to see lots of pictures of themselves and their friends. Tell your yearbook staffers to ALWAYS be taking pictures, every single day, of all sorts of people doing all sorts of things. Then upload them to Yearbook Avenue ASAP. It doesn’t just have to be shots directly tied to pages in your book (although always curb the “silly pose” shots.) Remember that we are storytellers and memory keepers, and sometimes those simple images of kids being themselves make for great memories. They may not make the book, but they’ll always make your ReplayIt site and app now during the school year and then your digital Time Capsule for many years to come.
Do Some Academic Storytelling - To be frank, academics doesn't get very much coverage in most yearbook storytelling, yet it's the whole reason kids go to school. Two interesting anniversaries are coming up in the next few days - the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination and the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, two seminal moments in the history of our nation. If your school has lessons or activities for either or both of these, why not some good storytelling coverage in your yearbook and on ReplayIt? Use pictures and videos, really tell the story. Then consider the same coverage of other academic subjects – Mole Day, Pi Day, academic competitions, interesting or fun academic activities or projects, etc.
Use Adviser & Staff for Great Ideas - For high school advisers you should have received your fall copy of Jostens Adviser & Staff magazine recently. Absolutely take some time to read through the great stories in this issue, written by the best creative experts and top advisers in the business. I can guarantee that you’ll get some great new ideas from this issue such as better photos in five easy steps, trending technology for new storytelling, top work from schools across America, and the quick one-minute workshops from our Jostens CAMs. A&S is a fantastic resource you absolutely need to use.
ReplayIt Image Captions Tell Stories - Remember that you can tell someone’s story simply with a picture and a caption. How can you see captions on your ReplayIt website and app? Open an image in your Yearbook Avenue Image Library, then click on Details in the right column. Note the Caption box at the top of the column – just type in a good detailed caption for that photo, then click Done at the bottom. You can do the same when you upload videos via the YBA Upload Video link. VOILA – your ReplayIt.com and app viewers and eventual Time Capsule viewers will read your details whenever they open that image or video, now and many years into the future. Pictures are great – captions make them even greater.
Have a ReplayIt Selfie Day! - Know what a “selfie” is? Your students do – that’s when they take pictures of themselves (and sometimes friends) with their smartphones or cameras. And many do it a LOT. Why not have a ReplayIt Selfie Day one day soon? Promote it heavily and see how many students participate – just take a selfie and upload to your ReplayIt site via online or app. Ask students to please tag the image with the name(s) of those included. Perhaps offer a prize for the best selfie or choose one image at random to be your winner. No, these images may not make your book (although it would make an interesting spread) but they’ll live now and for years to come on your ReplayIt.com/Time Capsule site and app.
Coverage of Veterans Day - Monday, November 11 is Veterans Day – is your school doing something special for military veterans? An assembly, ceremony, etc.? Remember that stories are all around us, including some about your town or about those who sacrificed to preserve our freedoms. Be sure to get a variety of different images to tell the story, and don’t forget to snap a video or two to help tell the story that will appear on your ReplayIt website. Remember what tells stories – pictures, words and videos. Work on all three and your yearbook readers and online/app viewers will thank you now and for many years to come. Perhaps it will get little space in your book, but you can give this plenty of coverage on ReplayIt. You can give ANYTHING plenty of coverage on ReplayIt, the sky’s the limit!
iPad Users, Use These Apps! - For Apple iPad users you have THREE great apps to use as part of your yearbooking effort this year. Be sure to download the install the new Yearbookers Field Kit app, a Jostens exclusive that allows you to monitor your Yearbook Avenue website from your iPad. Our Jostens tech staff will be doing some periodic updates during the school year to add more functionality to this great app. The Jostens 2013 Look Book app has all of the best of this year’s edition right on your iPad or iPhone for easy review anytime. And of course be sure to install the Jostens ReplayIt app to your iPad – it’s actually the iPhone app but looks great on the iPad as well. See what all of your smartphone viewers are seeing. And stay tuned, even more is coming!
A Social Media Success Story - Use social media channels to enhance your storytelling this year. Twitter seems to be the hot item right now as Facebook is fading a bit. More teens are getting plugged into Twitter and I’ve found that many school Internet filters actually don’t block it like Facebook. Here’s a salute to my friends at Juniata Valley High in Huntingdon County – their feed, @jvhsyearbook, is doing a great job of reaching out to students this year to solicit fresh images to ReplayIt and share information, even promoting school events. Find a trusted yearbook staffer or two to be your “social media coordinators,” then cut them loose to post messages preferably every day via computer or smartphone as you promote your service to every student. Promote your ReplayIt website heavily. Then watch the action come to you!
Content is KING - I’ve asked many staffs this fall – how many stories can you tell this year, in your yearbook and on your ReplayIt site? Don’t settle for just slapping down pictures on pages – push your staffers to gather as many stories as possible, told in pictures, words and videos. It’s not too late to compile a LONG list of story ideas and then gather the material to tell as many of those story ideas as possible. The best go in your book, and ALL go on ReplayIt. Pictures and videos are obvious but don’t forget the words, the most overlooked part of many yearbooks. Picture captions are an easy way to remind readers of the people pictured and what they are doing in each shot. And you can easily add captions to images on ReplayIt – open an image in the YBA Image Library, click on Details and look for the Caption line at the top. Don’t forget to click Done to save it!
Some Great Views for Halloween - It’s Halloween today – if you have folks having fun dressing up in costumes today, absolutely get as many pictures and videos as possible and then upload those images to Yearbook Avenue TODAY so they can be viewed on your ReplayIt website and app TODAY. Then be sure to send a ReplayIt app message via YBA TODAY to let everyone know they can enjoy seeing themselves on ReplayIt – and say why not send in some of their OWN images while they are viewing?
Video Ideas to Really Tell Stories - Folks everywhere are already enjoying watching videos on their yearbook ReplayIt.com website. Remember, there’s no limit so here’s an idea – shoot at least one short video of EVERY SINGLE GROUP at your school. That’s every sports team, every club, every organization, every activity, maybe even every academic class. For high schools what about a very brief video of every senior answering the same question – their favorite HS memory, what they plan to do in 20 years, etc. Have some fun with videos and really tell and remember stories of your school and its people. But don’t forget to promote them!
Always Remind Your Viewers of New Material - Every time you upload fresh images or ReplayIt videos via your Yearbook Avenue website, be sure to also send a ReplayIt message as well to let your smartphone app users know to check out the cool new material they can now see on the app or ReplayIt.com website. Remember that for now videos can only be viewed on the website. Constant promotion is a key to success and the ReplayIt mobile app notification feature makes it so easy – on YBA go to Plan, then ReplayIt and look for the mobile app notification link in the upper right. Try it, you’ll like it!
Need Story Ideas? How about Three Pages Worth? - Need some storytelling ideas for your staff? Click this link to download a file, first emailed to my advisers back in August. A yearbook adviser recently sent me a kind note that her staff is really digging into many of these ideas, telling more stories and covering more students than ever before. Serious stories, whimsical stories, big stories covering many people, small stories on only one person – or why not all of the above? With no limit now thanks to your Jostens yearbook combined with your ReplayIt website, the question remains – HOW MANY stories can you tell? The limit is completely up to you. A picture and caption and/or a short video will tell someone’s story forever.
Tell Business Stories and Make Big $$$ - Tell lots of stories this year, including those of local businesses! If you haven’t checked this already, log on to your Yearbook Avenue website now and click on the New Feature link in the upper right to learn more about the brand new ReplayIt business ad widget. It’s easy to use, your ReplayIt viewers would see those ads FAR more often than any ads in your yearbook, it would bring far more value to business advertisers, and your yearbook effort could make some serious BUCKS in the process. Maybe even for junior highs and middle schools! You can even frequently update the ads or captions with each ad to keep the advertising fresh, bringing even more value to advertisers. CHA-CHING!
Want Some Great Photo Ideas? - As we discuss getting your students to take more and better photos this year, how about a place where you can get great ideas and materials to use with your staff to get those photos? If you haven’t already check out the cool new Jostens website, www.yearbooklove.com. This is a site filled with fantastic material for your use where each month is dedicated to a particular yearbook or journalism topic. October has been devoted to Photography. Check out the great materials there including files you can download and use with your group. Spoiler Alert – November is dedicated to Design, just in time for your staff’s page creating work next month.
Great Pictures in a Flash - Pictures, pictures, pictures – with fall sports seasons winding down do you have enough of every sport? If not, THIS is the week to make your quota. Repeating an earlier idea – try a flash mob of photographers sent to an event. Some take action shots, some photo the fans, others photo other angles of the event. The key is QUANTITY, meaning lots of different images, and QUALITY, a mix of close ups and wide shots. It’s a great team activity. And then keep that idea for all future coverage of sports, events, dances, etc. But HURRY – time on fall sports seasons is rapidly running out!
Have the Fall Material You Need? - As October begins to wind down, now’s a good time to do an accounting of what fall stories you have gathered so far and how many still need attention. Fall sports seasons are ending – do you especially have the photos you need to tell those stories? If not it’s time to scramble this week and get that material before it’s too late to do anything. You can’t restart a sports season. And what about other fall activities? Do that accounting now, today or as soon as possible.
That First Video Uploaded Yet? - Here’s another reminder – is your first video uploaded yet to your ReplayIt website? Fall sports seasons are ending anytime now. An immediate goal should be at least one video of every fall sports team in action. Not long video, just a short two or three minute piece of the action, even raw video straight from the camera. And yes, a quick smartphone video works just fine. Produced videos with titles and editing are nice, but a raw video like you see on You Tube will easily suffice. Remember that only those with Adviser status on Yearbook Avenue can upload videos – just go to Plan, then ReplayIt and look for the video upload link in the upper right. Takes just minutes but the memory in video will last for years. Football game tonight? Here’s the perfect chance to get started – try it!!
Share the Storytelling Work - If you have a student newspaper or video broadcast team, find ways to get them involved with your storytelling. The TV group could produce short videos that you could then upload to ReplayIt.com for viewing both now and years into the future in the Time Capsule. Newspaper kids WRITE – do a partnership and use some of their writing in the yearbook. Total Storytelling could be a great way for groups to partner and give other classes some useful opportunities to showcase their work – and make YOUR effort even better!
Go Where the Stories Are - Your yearbook effort should have the stories of PEOPLE, not a school building. Have your staffers get around town and your area to take pictures and videos of all sorts of things. Think about it – will your town be the same in 20 years or more? Probably not, change is inevitable. Keeping those memories of favorite hangouts, parks and popular areas, attractions and landmarks, stores, etc. should be part of the mix for both your book and definitely for your ReplayIt website and app. Use the new ReplayIt business ad widget to remember local businesses – and get some much needed advertising revenue at the same time!
Never an Inappropriate Image - Remember that your audience can submit their pictures to be viewed on your ReplayIt site. This allows each person to tell their own story. But also remember that EVERY SINGLE image is checked out by our Jostens moderation staff for appropriateness before it is allowed to proceed. How is an image rejected? Anything remotely involving or picturing drugs, alcohol, guns, bad language, bad gestures, gang references, or other questionable material. Our folks, who amazingly work 24/7/365, are really picky. Now in its third year I have never heard a single complaint about a bad image that somehow made it through this screen to a ReplayIt site.
Try a Flash Mob of Photographers - Here’s an interesting photography idea – try a flash mob of photographers. Send many students to one event with cameras. The idea here is both quantity and quality. Quantity means take LOTS of pictures. Quality means tell your students to take images from different spots, from different angles, up close and out wide, spread out, all sides, everywhere. For instance, have your “mob” go to a home football game. Two students shoot game action, two shoot your marching band in action on the field and in the stands, another shoots the cheerleaders, another the fans in the stands, someone even shoots the action at the concession stand, etc. – ALL the facets of a home football game. And ask staffers to snap a couple of short videos of the action. Upload all the images and videos to Yearbook Avenue for folks to enjoy on ReplayIt, then use the best images on your yearbook pages. Remember, there’s no limit to images and videos on ReplayIt.com.
Make Great Photos Always the Goal - Make a goal for photography this year to always take GREAT photos, not just photos. What’s a GREAT photo? One that’s as close up as you can get. One that focuses on one person or a small group and not always large groups or everybody. One that shows real life action and scenes, not silly poses which kids always want to do. One that is in focus and well lit. And one that tries new views – shot from high above down, shot from down below up, shot with the camera tilted, just not the same old same old. Challenge your staffers to do their best effort to tell stories with their images, not just take pictures.
Feel the Yearbook Love - Have you checked out the cool new website from Jostens, www.yearbooklove.com? It’s filled with great ideas for all staffs, materials to download and use, even tie-ins for Common Core and 21st Century Skills to let an administrator know that yearbook is THAT important. Each month is dedicated to a particular facet of yearbooking. September was Coverage, check out the great stuff there. Now it’s October and it’s all about Photography, with posts on the subject during the month. Make a note on your calendar to check www.yearbooklove.com frequently for the latest and greatest in yearbooking and storytelling.
Great Instructive Videos on YBA - If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the terrific videos on your Yearbook Avenue website in the Digital Classroom. Watch them yourself or play them for your staff, from high school even down to elementary. You’ll find videos on all sorts of yearbooking topics – there’s even one called Storytelling featuring Shannon Williams, one of our expert CAMs (Creative Account Managers.) While a few videos are long, most are five minutes or less. AN IDEA – play a video for your staff, then get them discussing the topic with your particular situation.
Uploaded Your First Video? - RIGHT NOW - Take a video accounting. First, have you shot and uploaded at least one brief video via YBA to your ReplayIt site? Next, have you taken at least one brief video of EACH of your fall sports teams so far? If not please make it a priority. Football gets plenty of attention but you’ll thrill the golf, tennis and cross country teams if you had a staffer shoot even a couple of minutes of their action as well. And while your staffer is there, have them take some regular still close-up images of the action and LOTS of them. Make it a goal to take and load at least one video of every single sports team this year. Your ReplayIt.com viewers will thank you now and years into the future for making the effort to cover everyone.
Just a Few Words Makes a BIG Difference - Don’t overlook words in your storytelling, even on your ReplayIt website. A simple caption can be done in one sentence – who is this person or this group and what is going on here in this image or video? That one line will mean volumes in later years when people begin to forget people after years of separation, and even now on people that a reader may not know. In your yearbook try to beef up your photo captions with an extra line or two containing more information about the person or group or event. Take just a little time to talk to the person and get a good quote from them to add to the caption – people absolutely LOVE to be quoted. WOW, now you’ve told a story in just a small space!
Any Kind of Video Will Do - No doubt, produced videos looks pretty sharp. Add titles or effects or edit out unwanted action and you make the video more viewable. You don’t need some expensive software program to do this. Windows Movie Maker or iMovie for Macs can easily do the job. If you use a smartphone you can even do some simple editing as part of video app as you create the final version. But raw videos taken with smartphones work just fine – your staffers probably already have one and it’s a lot more handy for them than running to find a real camera. Just remember only you as adviser can upload videos via YBA to your ReplayIt.com website.
Social Media Usage Goes Well with Storytelling - If you haven’t already, start using social media avenues to promote your Total Storytelling effort. Facebook and Twitter are probably the two best known – try working with both. Find trusted staffers who are social media savvy, establish your yearbook Facebook page or Twitter feed, and get started promoting your effort, what stories you’re telling, reaching out to others for story material, etc. Always link your ReplayIt.com site (www.replayit.com) to every post and promote new pictures and videos there. Even if social media sites are blocked in your school you know people use them frequently at other times – have your group work outside of school to keep your social media outlets constantly active. And they don’t cost a dime.
Keep Your Staff Busy with Storytelling - Over the years when I’ve visited yearbook staffs I’ve seen plenty of kids instead doing homework, or playing video games, or blabbing with their friends, or even sleeping. Especially if you have a larger group, how do you keep everyone engaged every single day? Simple answer – Total Storytelling. Every person in your school has at least one story to tell – how many stories can you discover? Your yearbook has a finite number of pages and space so you’re limited there to the biggest and best stories, but your ReplayIt website has no limit. You can upload as many images and now videos as you wish. Make it a goal to tell as many stories as possible this year, in and out of school, every single day. All it takes is a picture and caption or short video.
Survey Students via ReplayIt Frequently to Tell Stories - Getting students to respond to surveys is a great storytelling device. Your Survey tool in Yearbook Avenue is easy to use to create your own custom surveys, or select one of the canned lists of questions already loaded there to save time. On YBA go to Create, then Survey. Create all different kinds of questions – multiple choice, yes or no, etc. Try serious questions, funny questions or do a mix. Set a start date and end date, and YBA automatically tabulates the results under Analyze. When you finish and Publish your survey, note the link to have your survey appear on your ReplayIt.com home page. Then just publicize your survey to your audience and get as many people as you can to respond. Do different surveys all year long, as many as you wish, on whatever topics you wish.
Get Help Via the ReplayIt App - Use the ReplayIt App push notification feature to ask viewers for help in gaining fresh pictures. On YBA go to Plan, then ReplayIt and click on the Mobile App Notifications link. Send a message afterward (“Did you attend the volleyball match last night? Send us your pictures to ReplayIt!) or in advance (“Going on the science field trip? Please take some pictures and then send them to us on ReplayIt. We’d love your pictures!”) You have an army of photographers out there – let’s start putting them to work for you and your staff. Remember that all images uploaded to ReplayIt are checked by Jostens moderators for appropriate content, and those images end up in the ReplayIt Inbox in your Yearbook Avenue Image Library for you to place in the appropriate image categories.
Improve Your Student Photography- Watch my instructional online video on good photography tips to help improve your staffers’ pictures (and videos too.) It’s less than 15 minutes but could make a world of difference - jostens.na3.acrobat.com/p12024758. And high schools/junior highs/middle schools, check out the photography section of your Yearbook Adviser Guide website for great tips and presentations - www.ybguidebook.com/geesey/. Enter your login and password to get in – forgot it? Just let me know. Click on the Yearbook Class selection, then Curriculum, then Photography.
Easy Captions for Images On ReplayIt - Attach a one line caption to images and videos when you upload them to Yearbook Avenue. The simple rule – who is this person (or people) and what are they doing in this picture/video. You can do that in one sentence, takes just a moment. Later in the yearbook if you use the image on a page, see if you can expand on that one line caption with more information on the person or event. How to add a caption line to an image in YBA afterward? After uploading to the Image Library, open the image and click on Details. You’ll immediately see the Caption line at the top – fill it in and then click Done at the bottom. Now your ReplayIt viewers will have more details to relive your stories.
Tell Someone's Story EVERY Day - Do your best to tell at least one story every single day – it’s not as crazy as it sounds. You can do that with just one good picture on ReplayIt and a few words, or one short video. But not a RANDOM picture or video – it should be one that tells the story of something that someone (student or adult) has done, or something a group has done, or just a great candid image of people being themselves. Be sure to upload the picture or video to Yearbook Avenue that same day if you can before you head home, it takes just moments. Upload the picture into an image folder marked to be shown on ReplayIt, or use the YBA video uploader via the ReplayIt page – on YBA go to Plan, then ReplayIt. Do this regularly and your audience will begin to follow your ReplayIt website or app regularly to see what’s new.
With Videos Think SHORT, Save the Work - For videos you upload to your Yearbook Avenue site for viewing on ReplayIt.com think SHORT. No one wants to plow through a long video. Keep them around four minutes or less. Plus you don’t need to devote a lot of work time that you probably don’t have, right? Raw videos straight from the camera are probably good enough, especially if your staffers plan ahead a little before they shoot to keep in mind what they want to capture in the video. Produced videos with titles and the like are GREAT, but raw videos from the camera are fine as well. Your students and folks will love viewing them now and years into the future.
Promoting ReplayIt via the Smartphone App - Your ReplayIt website and app won’t promote itself. If you’re uploading fresh material every week or every day be sure your audience knows it. Announcements are usually ignored. For app users your best bet is to use the ReplayIt push notification feature in YBA to send messages to everyone. On YBA go to Plan, then ReplayIt and click on the Mobile App Notifications link. It takes just moments – you can send the message immediately or easily program it to go out on a day and time of your choice. VOILA – the message pops up on the smartphone home screen of app users. Tell your viewers anytime about new ReplayIt updates for them to check out, or ask them to send you THEIR material about a certain topic.
No Worries About Student-Submitted Images - All images submitted to your ReplayIt site are moderated by Jostens for appropriate material. But you as adviser have full control over everything at all times. That includes your OWN image moderation. For my schools this is a new feature this year - the ability for you to have all submitted images go to your ReplayIt Inbox in the Yearbook Avenue Image Library where they WON’T be displayed on your ReplayIt site until you choose to click and drag the image into one of your YBA image categories. On YBA go to Plan, then ReplayIt, then note the check box near the top of the screen for School Image Moderation – that’s you. If you prefer to have submitted images go straight to ReplayIt for immediate viewing, simply uncheck that box.
Create your Image Categories on YBA - If you haven’t already, in the YBA Image Library create your image categories under the main category folders already there – Academics, Clubs and Organizations, Dances and Events, Sports and Student Life. Just click on the main category name, then click New at the top of the column. Be sure that the image folders you create have the ReplayIt icon on them so the images there can be viewed on your ReplayIt site or app for all to enjoy.
And yes, do this even if you’re a YearTech software school instead of YearTech Online, because your ReplayIt website operates from your YBA Image Library. As pictures come in through ReplayIt you can easily drag and drop each image into the appropriate image category you’ve created; software schools can also download them for use in your InDesign layouts.
Are You Promoting ReplayIt Yet? - Does everyone know about your ReplayIt.com website and app, as well as your school passcode so they can register and take part? Now is a good time to start. On YBA go to Plan, then ReplayIt and scroll to the bottom – note the link to create a flyer to hand out to everyone. Print out one good copy, photocopy as many as you can and hand out to all. For schools with younger students this goes home to the folks. Or note the link there to use an email list to send out professional looking messages about your ReplayIt effort. The more people registered, the more who are following your staff’s work, and the more who may start submitting their own images to make your yearbooking and storytelling job that much easier.
And don’t forget the ReplayIt smartphone app, an easy way for everyone to follow your work!
Sometimes Small Stories are the Best - Your storytelling isn’t all BIG stories. Make a list of SMALL stories to follow – some achievement by a single student, a club activity that doesn’t get publicity, a fun activity in a class, a great lesson for a certain teacher, etc. This should end up being a LONG list since EVERYONE in your school has some story to tell. And you’ll be adding to this list right up to the end of the school year. These are the stories that will make someone, maybe just one person, smile and say “hey, they noticed me” which could be invaluable to your school’s entire culture and morale. And they could be among the most fascinating stories you’ll tell this year. Your book will hold some of them; your ReplayIt website will hold ALL of them.
Great Storytelling Chance Tonight?- Football game tonight? Here’s a chance to start taking videos that you can upload to your ReplayIt.com site for everyone to enjoy and remember. And it doesn’t have to be a glitzy produced video with titles, etc. although those are certainly nice. It could be raw video straight out of a camera or smartphone. Keep them short, four minutes or less – no one wants to plow through a long video. For football, maybe a couple of minutes of action on the field, maybe another short video of the marching band in action, a video of enthusiastic fans, etc. Start planning on doing short videos on as many stories as you can tell this year. Remember that only you as adviser can upload videos via your YBA site but upload them as soon as you can, don’t wait until days later. We have a viewing audience to build!
The BIG Stories- Make a list of BIG stories to follow – the sports teams, Homecoming week, some event a club is doing (Pi Day, Mexican Day of the Dead, etc.), etc. Don’t expect to get them all right away – you’ll probably keep adding to this list in the coming weeks. As you work on these plan to include them in your yearbook and with a separate image category on Yearbook Avenue for viewing on your ReplayIt.com website and smartphone/tablet app. Create those category folders in the Image Library on YBA as soon as you can to save time later.
How is Your Staff Organized?- A key to a good yearbooking and storytelling effort is organization. Is your staff well organized or just a room full of people? Two thoughts here – organize your staff by interest or a “beat” (sports, people section, clubs, Student Life, etc.) or organize by specialty (photographer, writer, page designer, editor, sales, etc.) But ORGANIZE – unless your group is really small and you don’t have a choice, a staff where everyone tries to do everything usually leads to mediocre work. Play to a student’s strengths or interests to keep them motivated to do their best effort for you.
What is a Story?- What exactly IS a story? Not what you think – NOT reams of writing or a whole page in the yearbook. A story can be told with a picture and a caption, or a short video. But make it a GOOD picture or video, not just random stuff. Make it a goal for your staff – every single image or video used this year should have been done for a reason, not just to kill time or fill up space. And with no memory limit on your ReplayIt website, running all year long, just imagine how many stories you can tell, and how many people will feel a little extra special because you and your group took the time to cover them. The message they receive is “I count for something…”