Saturday, February 26, 2011

Teaching Drama in the Classroom

While I have not acted in a play since I played an angel in my church's Christmas pageant about ten years ago, I know I would be capable of teaching drama to my students, courtesy of my recent experience at a How-To-Teach seminar. Ashley G, a teacher from New Jersey, came to TCNJ to share methods for teaching drama to students. She uses the play, The Miracle Worker, in order to teach the students about stage directions, prop usage, etc.

Before beginning the unit, to test students' prior knowledge, Ms. G gives each student a red strip with Helen Keller's name on it and a blue strip with Annie Sullivan's name on it. She asks biographical questions about each person, and the students raise the corresponding strip. Quickly, Ms. G can look around the room and survey which students know which pieces of information.

Also, before they begin reading The Miracle Worker, the students listen to an NPR recording from 2004 in which playwright William Gibson explains his motivation for writing The Miracle Worker. Click here to listen to Gibson's NPR interview.

For the students' final assessment, Ms. G divides the students into groups of four or five. Then, she lets the students choose which roles they want. (Throughout the unit, Ms. G spends time teaching the students about the different theater roles, such as prop master and director, so that by the time they are ready to complete their final assessment, they understand each of the roles and can choose the one they want.) Once all of the students have their roles Ms. G passes out "Admit One" backstage passes with the name of their role and its description (see above picture).

I would love to adapt this final project in my classroom for teaching Shakespearean plays as well!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Hunger Games Challenge

Taylor Swift, Katy Perry...Suzanne Collins? It may seem odd, but Young Adult Literature author, Suzanne Collins, was nominated by Entertainment Weekly as one of the top entertainers of 2010 right alongside Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. Odd? Perhaps. Awesome? Definitely! Oh yeah, and Stieg Larsson was also on the list of top entertainers as well. (If you're unfamiliar with Larsson, he is the Swedish author who died in 2004, whose crime novels were published posthumously in the United States---The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.)

Last semester while I was student teaching, I shared this information with my students and they wanted to learn more about Suzanne Collins. What books has she written? What are her novels about? Her Hunger Games trilogy is making Collins into a household name. (She has already written a screenplay for the novel to be turned into a movie.)

In order to share my Hunger Games obsession with Sigma Tau Delta members, I created "The Hunger Games Challenge," in which I have challenged all of our Sigma Tau Delta members to read the first novel in the trilogy, The Hunger Games, by April 27th. I feel as if Young Adult Literature gets a bad rep; often it isn't considered "real" Literature with a capitol L. However, my goal is to change peoples' perceptions of YA Lit and encourage them to appreciate it as its own literary genre.

If you are interested in learning a bit more about The Hunger Games, check out the Book Trailer I made for the novel.