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Story mapping: Picking the right way to tell the story


When incorporating multimedia into your publications, the number one consideration should be, “What is the right medium through which to tell your story?” This lesson will take you through the process of story mapping, which will help students keep multimedia in mind throughout the publication process. By the end of the lesson, students should be ready to create multimedia packages to supplement written work and vice versa.


  • Students will take a general topic and create a story map for different angles of coverage.
  • Students will analyze angles of coverage for appropriate storytelling methods.
  • Students will plan coverage for multimedia methods.
  • Students will create a story package containing at least two different types of multimedia storytelling methods.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.2.B Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.


One 90-minute block or two 45-minute periods. Production of story package is up to the discretion of instructor and/or publication deadlines.


Whiteboard, chalkboard, interactive whiteboard: essentially any large brainstorming space

Slideshow: Story map samples and instructions

Handout: Multimedia storytelling options list

Handout: Story mapping practice

Handout: Coverage plan

Example: Sample coverage plan worksheet

Rubric: Story package

Lesson step-by-step

Warm-Up: Story Map Explanation—5 minutes

1. Explain the concept of story mapping. Journalists can use story maps as the first step in the brainstorm process. It involves taking a larger topic, like Election 2016 or Homecoming, and breaking it down into stories with specific angles, such as students who campaign for candidates or homecoming dance decoration disasters. In this stage in the process, there are no good or bad ideas – just ideas. This is a great place for all students to have their voices heard.

 Brainstorm: Modeling Story Mapping—10 minutes

2. Engage in a teacher-led story mapping brainstorm session on a topic covered every year. For this exercise, the teacher should draw the map, modeling how to address student ideas, as well as how to ask questions that will led to specific angles. Ideas include:

  • First day of school
  • Homecoming
  • Winter break
  • Standardized testing
  • Prom

Students can follow along on a blank Story Map handout (teacher discretion).

3. Once all ideas have been exhausted (look for lulls in ideas, long periods of silence), the teacher should review the different methods of multimedia storytelling with students (see slideshow/multimedia options list).

Exploring Multimedia Options—20 minutes

4. After options review, the teacher will lead a discussion about which stories are the most unique to this school year, as well as which methods would themselves best to telling the stories. For example, for a homecoming pep rally, the best method might be a live stream or a broadcast feature, while a discussion of appropriate homecoming dress code might be better served as a Public Service Announcement. For classes that are NOT on a block schedule, this is a natural place to end the first day of the lesson.

This is a natural place to begin the second day of the lesson if not on a block schedule.

Brainstorm: Story Mapping for Package Creation —15 minutes

5. Put students in small groups of 4-6 students. Give each group a topic relevant to your school community; make sure the topic is also timely as the story packages the groups create can be used in your online publications/social media.

6. Hand out blank copies of the story map template. Have students complete the story map in their groups, taking into consideration not only topics, but also storytelling options, specifically multimedia angles.

7. Once the story map is finished, students should select four stories from their map, ensuring that they have picked specific, achievable angles. Three of these four stories must utilize multimedia methods of storytelling. Refer to “Multimedia Options” list if necessary.

8. Each group will fill out the Coverage Plan worksheet, detailing the group’s strategy for completing the plan in a timely manner. It will be up to the teacher to assign deadlines based on timeliness, equipment usage, and any other unique factors in the staff’s publication timeline. This would be a great place to plan and create coverage for evergreen stories as well; story packages can be used during slow news weeks.

9. Teacher will assess story package using the Story Package Rubric.


This lesson works with introductory students as well as intermediate and advanced students. For intermediate/advanced students, editors are encouraged to take the lead with the story map modeling (steps 1-4).

For mixed level classes, it is suggested that one experienced staff member heads up small groups of less experienced staffers. This will provide low stakes leadership practice as well as establishing the hierarchy of the classroom.