Sunday, 19 April 2015

Art Residency: Drama

My school has been very fortunate to offer a drama residency to students.  The PAC and district joined together to fund this.  We invited Ted Sloan, a local celebrity, in to help us out.  Ted was a local radio personality for 10 years.  Ted has an acting degree from the University of Alberta and he's currently going to Capilano University to complete a diploma in backstage studies.

We took the school and split everyone up into one of three weeks.  Everyone gets 45 minutes a day with Ted for a week.  My class was in the first week.  This residency was excellent for students in so many ways.  It was great to push some of my more serious kids out of their comfort zone.  For my outgoing students, they were provided an outlet for their personality I unfortunately can't provide often enough.  I also strongly believe in the importance of male role models in kids lives - there just isn't enough male teachers and kids can easily go their whole elementary career without having a male teacher.


When he first arrived, there were some simple expectations put in place:
1) Respect (for yourself, each other, him)
2) Not my prop (essentially, if it's not yours, don't touch it)
3) Ask "is it safe?" (if it isn't, don't do it)

He also shared with them a strategy he calls "Focus In, Focus Out".  Often in drama you can get overwhelmed or over excited.  He said that if he noticed this in the students he would say "Focus In, Focus Out".  When they heard this they were to take a deep breath in and out to refocus themselves.
I was so grateful for these  expectations as they set the tone for the entire week. 


Ted started every day with a check-in.  This was set up very similar to what I do daily, Circle Talk.  (From Tribes Learning Communities).  He passed a ball around for the talking person, gave the right to pass, and reminded students of the respect piece which meant they couldn't take information they learned at the check-in to use against people out on the playground.  What he did differently, which I loved, was that he set some limitations on the words they could use.  They were not allowed to use "good", "okay", or "awesome" unless they justified it.  He also challenged them not to explain their feeling with a word someone else has used (if I say I'm fantastic, then you need to pick a new word.)  By the end, my kids were starting to come up with some great vocab!  Ted also threw in fancy words (ecstatic, loathe, detest, elated) which helped build the vocab for them.

In this video, he is teaching them level one of a concentration game.  (Sorry the quality is not awesome - they came off my iPhone and then I think compressed some more when uploaded.)  Students have to switch places with someone else in the circle without speaking to them or touching them to indicate the place switch.  They also need to do so fairly quickly.  Once this is mastered, they play a game of Zap simultaneously in level 2.  The levels get harder after that with a ball being passed around and other crazy antics.

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Here he is going over the parts of a play:
1) Status Quo
2) Problem
3) Solution
4) Did it work?
with a fun made up story the kids improv-ed.  He uses "Focus In, Focus Out" at the end of this clip.

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Finally, a clip from the "8 Count Shake Out" which I will totally be using as a brain break.  I was a bit slow with my camera, so I start at 4.  The shake out halves each time - 8, 4, 2, 1.  I started filming at 4.
 
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Thank you Ted for coming to our classroom!  It was a fantastic experience for the students and myself!

Readers, what is your favourite drama activity?  Share with me in the comments!

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