I was hoping to use a Prezi to inpack the central idea but you can't use Prezi collaboratively on the iPads. So, we did it in a more traditional way. I was pleased to see that the class remembered what "elements" of something meant from our last unit. I am noticing that using recurring vocabulary whenever possible and relevant in lines of inquiry and central ideas is very helpful! The student questions after this were right on track with my vision of how the unit was going to go...no surprises yet!
Many students thought that Drama and reading stories out loud had a lot in common. So, I collected a few videos of myself and some more illustrious personalities reading out loud. Robert Munsch is always good fun! Next to these videos, I included various dramatic performances. I tried to include a range of performances...silent performances that focused on body movements and facial expressions, minimalist stage and costume designs and some student productions. I wanted to see if I could challenge any preconceived notions of what "drama" is, I wanted to plant some inspiration and possibility for when the students would be creating their own plays. Also, I wanted the students to keep an eye out for answers to their tuning in question; "What are the elements of Drama?"
I also wanted the students to note what Drama and reading out loud had in common, and what may be different...I wanted comparisons, connections and contrast. Here are some of my favourites:
"When you read you do not move. But when you do drama you move."
"When you read you are exited. Also in drama you are exited." (excited)
"When you read a book you need a lawd voice." (loud)
"You need ikspreshon." (this is my favourite creative spelling to date...not a bad go of "expression" if you ask me!)
Afterwards, we brainstormed the elements of Drama the children thought were important based on the videos they watched. After we brainstormed, I gave each child 3 stickers. They had to choose the three most important elements from the list they brainstormed and put a sticker next to them. Some children chose to put ALL there stickers next to one element...and that was okay! I was surprised at how close their choices turned out to be compared to the elements of Drama stated in various books and websites. We seemed to be on the right track!
I've used this "sticker strategy" many times. It's a great way to refine a list from brainstorming. You can change the number of stickers each child gets and other rules (ie. you have to put your stickers on different points vs. you can spend all your stickers on one point).
Since STORY was decided to be the most important element of Drama, it was important to discuss this element in a bit more detail. All I did was listen to the children talk about their favourite stories and note down character conflicts....I was hoping they would pick up on this pattern. As usual, the class came through with a great definition of a what makes a good story.
This is where I was really surprised by my class. In my mental teacher pocket, I has the Creative Process all ready go for when the students were ready to start creating their own plays. However, a few students suggested that the Writing Process was a creative process (duh!). So, we talked about how to adapt the Writing Process to suit Drama a bit more. This is what they came up with! I was SO excited and a bit humbled....why didn't I think of this?
Anyway, even thought the students decided that SCRIPT was an important element of Drama...I wasn't sure how much I wanted to emphasize script writing. So, I cobbled together this graphic organizer to help they students organize their play. It was based on they elements of Drama they decided on during Sorting Out. I couldn't find one that I liked online so I had to do it the old fashioned way...scissors, glue and markers!
The class spent a lot of time creating their plays. They spent a LOT of time sharing and revising their plays based on feedback. One of the big lessons of this unit was the importance of spending time sharing and revising their work. Many students often blew through this part of the Writing Process, needing a lot of reminders and conferencing to ensure they spent enough time on these steps. This unit really showed them how important it was....it also made the connection between feedback and revising much clearer. It is a point that gets brought up again and again in our writing lessons by the class.
After they had spent some time making their plays and considering the feedback from their peers, it was time to think about assessment. I was wanted to include student voice in the creating of their assessment. But, I was worried if I had them do this too early in the unit, they wouldn't know enough to have the vocabulary to express their assessment criteria effectively. We brainstormed what was important and we saw that it connected to our elements of Drama...awesome! You may also note that our class favourite word is "relevant".
I took this list above to type up a checklist that the class used to assess each other's final plays. I also videoed their final performances and placed it on our class website with a online version of the checklist. That way, parents could also be involved in evaluating and commenting on the plays. The class wanted to have the largest audience possible and since scheduling did not allow a time for parents to come in and see the plays, the class was happy with the online option.
Based on how the unit went, I created some reflection questions that the students answered in writing and orally...I gave them a choice. I was surprised that so many children chose to write their responses...maybe they were tired of speaking out loud after 6 weeks of oral expression!
Again, it was a great integrated unit! I look forward to doing it again next year.
Leigh Ann Fitch
Thank you for visiting! I am a Canadian who teaches and lives in Oman. My goal for this blog is to improve my teaching by learning from fellow colleagues all over the world and sharing my reflections!