Youth Media | Stories

Supporting High Quality Youth Media: Interview with Shan-Lee Liu

Shan-Lee Liu (Educator), Boston

What makes a media work stand out and shine brighter than others? How do you guide youth in creating media that’s high quality? We turned to Lead Educator Shan-Lee Liu, Ed. D., for her insights. Shan-Lee teaches Chinese at Boston Latin School, in Massachusetts, and participates in AYV through network partner Boston Public Schools.  

Each class I dedicate 10 to 15 minutes to demonstrate what digital media can illustrate and encourage students to find their voices through storytelling... Everybody has their own story to tell.

- Shan-Lee Liu

Her students have enjoyed remarkable success with their media projects, for example: "Missing” (pictured below) by Yisheng Pan (pictured left with Shan-Lee) received the 2012 Aspire Award Silver Medal for Graphic Design; Da Capo by Linda Qin, Celestine He, Clare Zhou, and Jacquelyn Ho was honored as a 2013 Aspire Award finalist for Narrative work; and Touched by Autism by Mia Yee, Eric Huang, Karlmichael/Karen Camaso, Andy Hui, and Julia Pan was selected as a 2013 Aspire Award finalist for Documentary. We asked Shan-Lee to reflect on her teaching practice and share success strategies with the AYV Community.

What steps in production and artistic choices are pivotal to making high quality media?

Each stage of media making has a critical role for students to develop their own voices. Pre-planning is important for youth to initiate ideas close to their heart. The production process is vital for youth to turn their dream into reality. The critique and revision process stimulates youth’s minds to renew energy and renovate creativity. High quality youth media persuades people to be responsible world citizens and life-long learners of humanity.

Passion and dedication are vital for creating any high quality media work. Any artistic choices that can touch the audience’s heart will speak for their mind. AYV Awards gave me the chance to find Yisheng, to see what he could do. I asked Yisheng about his artistic choices. He used Illustrator for his work but started with paper and pencil – the most difficult but most helpful tools, he says. Passion is still the most important thing. 

What skills do you focus on teaching?

One of the skills I am focusing on is to encourage youth to tell their stories of life-touching experiences through literature, data, image, and sound – and presenting the stories through digital media. I start with storyboard style writing or drawing, followed by constructing presentation of real data in the real time and places. Copyright issues and ownership are stressed throughout the creative process. Image making software like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator or InDesign is introduced. Video making software like Adobe Premiere Elements or Premiere Pro is usually in high demand. An e-portfolio for each student to keep track of growth and progress is my goal for every high school student upon graduation, using software like Adobe Acrobat X Pro. 

How do you get youth to think more creatively and elevate their work?

Respect each student regardless of background. Give youth freedom to create without precondition. Love and encourage every student to live without fear. Give youth the opportunity to teach each other in order to lead. Give youth the opportunity to compare and contrast their own culture, problems or issues with at least one other culture/country. Youth present to a community other than their own to learn from each other and be aware of the different perspectives around the globe.

How do you know when to step in or to stand back and give youth space to navigate on their own?

Through the process of constant dialogue between the youth and me, I use verbal and written conversation through personal, social or digital media to listen to them and give the youth their own space to grow. I step in when the youth need professional help and provide guidance whenever needed. But to me space is the most important thing. 

Adobe has given us a wonderful opportunity to appreciate what we do. We were doing this anyway, making media with youth, but because of Adobe we stop and recognize the power of it. We are providing opportunities for students to do something amazing.

POST DATE: December 16, 2013
AUTHOR: Wendy Rivenburgh

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