Saturday, February 16, 2013

Put Your Words Where Your Mouth Is: Words Into Action in the Literature Classroom

Hello All,
I know you are all excited to hear what is next and I have another technique to effectively and creatively bring Theater into your English classroom.

It is called:

Words Into Action

This is also known as scene work, but I kind of like the name I chose for it better.  It adds a little something...don't you think?  This technique involves taking apart a chapter or two by splitting them into scenes and dividing your class into groups so that they can perform them.

Now I know this sounds odd to some of you.  How can you take literature and perform it?  You simply take the dialogue between the characters and use it as a script.

 First you want to explain your lesson to the class by explicitly stating what you want them to do, I have been learning from my Classroom Management: Productive Learning Environment and Understanding Adolescents education courses I have been learning the importance of specific instructions.

Side Note on Explicit Instructions:
I learned that you can't just say get into your groups and begin working on your scenes. You will have to discuss the meaning behind the scene and portray it the way you believe it should be performed and practice in with movements.  I will keep you posted on how long you have left before you have to stop working.

Instead you have to say--> Everyone silently walk over and sit with your groups.  Then, using your indoor voices discuss the meaning behind the scenes, start blocking (planning the movements), and rehearse.  I am giving you the rest of class time to work on this and we will be performing these next class, so be sure to stay on task.

The importance of giving your students explicit instructions is clear when you give them vague directions and they get out of control, talking loudly, meandering around the classroom, etc.  Being precise leaves no wiggle room for them to distract themselves and others from the task at hand.  Teenagers tend to love socializing and do what they want, so it is best to clarify what you mean them to do.

How To Do This In Your Class:

  1. Divide the portion of literature into scenes and split your class into groups as stated above.  Group size may vary depending on the amount of characters in each scene.
  2. Write the scenes on the board.  Give them a title and list the page numbers.  
Example: Scarlet Letter---Hester's Persecution and Imprisonment (page 12-24)  I made these page numbers up for this example.
    3. Either assign each group a scene or let them choose.  Write the names of the group members on the board under the corresponding scenes.
    4. Inform them on how much time you are giving them to work on this project.  One class period should be enough, but if you are working at a school with only 45 minute periods, then you will probably want to allot for additional time.
    5. Performance Day: Have the students take notes on each others performances in which they rate each other on the performance and  the clarity of perspectives they choose to take on the scenes.

That's all on this technique.  More to come soon.

Thanks for reading,
Aliana Theater Lover
Future Teacher

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