Open Forum

1.  Middle School Theatre

Posted 08-26-2014 14:40

Hello ladies and gents. I'm a first year teacher and I have the amazing opportunity to teach middle school students the wonders of theatre. I'd love to chat with people in the same boat ( or at least same river) as me.  So if you have any great tips, tricks, or lessons. Please share here!

Teresa Elmore
Kokomo IN

2.  RE: Middle School Theatre

Posted 08-30-2014 08:49
Hello Teresa,

I just responded to you but also wanted to respond in the open forum.  

Im just starting my teaching position on Tuesday and i'll be working with middle school students.  Im really excited and im working on my unit plan for the year and will start putting together my lesson plans.  

When you would like, please share what you will be working on with you students.  For myself, im starting with collaborative skillbuilding exercises.


Carrie Isaacman
Theater Teacher
New York City Department of Education
New York NY

3.  RE: Middle School Theatre

Posted 08-31-2014 13:59
Congrats on the teaching job Miss Elmore!

A suggestion for you is everyday you start your class, take 5 or 10 minutes to play some warm up theatre games!  My director always starts her classes this way, and I find it is a great way to set the creative atmosphere. Students of all ages (including my high school peers) feel energized and ready to learn.

Some fan favorites are the following:

Zip Zap Zop

Everyone stands in a circle and one person looks at another person across the circle and yells zip, then that person passes the energy by yellling zap, then that person passes the energy by yelling zop, And the pattern continues. As the students get used to it, the momentum increases and you can even play it elimination style.

As The Spirit Moves You

This a great focus game. Everyone sits in a circle and closes their eyes. The objective of this game is to count from 1 (to however many students are in the circle). The catch is you cannot talk, and each person can only say one number. If two people speak at the same time, then the group starts over.

Giants, Wizards, Trolls

Think of this game like life sized rock, paper, scissors. The setup of this game is to split the class in half and move them to different sides of the room. The rules are simple, giants beat wizards, wizards beat trolls, and trolls beat giants. The round begins by each side stomping towards the middle chanting a goofy phrase, and then they reveal what "class" they are by doing that classes action. If one side is giants and the other is wizards then the giants chase after the wizards and if a wizard is tagged they go to the giants side and the game continues. Lots of fun for impersonating characters.

Will You Smile For Me?

This game is simple and always a good laugh. The setup for this is to have everyone stand in a circle while one person is it. There goal is to go around the circle asking the question "Will You Smile for Me?" in the goofiest way possible. They are trying to get kids on the outside of the circle to smile, making them it.

Hope these help, good luck with your year!

Alex Minton
ITO Chair
International Thespian Society
Omaha NE

4.  RE: Middle School Theatre

Posted 09-07-2014 20:30
Hey there! I taught middle school theatre for 6 years before moving to high school.  I could type out an entire novel on what I learned, but I'll try to distill it down to a few key points

1 - Start slow and small.  They're super self conscious in the beginning.  I always started with easy get to know you, everybody plays type games and slowly worked into more individual performance pieces.
2 - Break the skills down.  I started with pantomime, then went to voice, then put it all together.
3 - Plan your lessons in 10-15 minute increments.  I found they couldn't stay focused more than that, so I always planned for 3-4 activities (we had 45 minute classes).
4 - Make it more step-by-step and explicit than you think necessary.  My kids struggled with abstract or even big picture.  If I wanted them to create a pantomime about X, I had to get them to really think about it in detailed steps before I got anything good out of them.  Once they figured that out the task became less daunting and they created some cool things, but "create a pantomime..."  Oy.
5 - Model, model, model.  I always played the games with them, when I was introducing a new performance I always performed it for them first, etc.  It reduced the vulnerability and gave them a very concrete thing to look at for help.

If you want scope and sequence or lesson ideas, let me know.  I still have all that stuff :-)

Laura Steenson
Theatre Director
Reynolds High School
Troutdale OR

5.  RE: Middle School Theatre

Posted 09-18-2014 00:30
I taught middle school/junior high for 11 years and I loved it! Although I am at the high school level, like any quality theatre educational experience, lessons are good K to the grave. That said, Laura is absolutely right about the key points and certainly breaking it down is important, as was mentioned before. Also, I always tell student teachers or future educators or current folks who aren't sure about that 'tweener stage, if you treat them like adults (because they perceive of themselves as adults), give them recess like children (because, well, they are), and allow yourself to remember that hormones control them so in five minutes it may all shift sideways or wonderways, but in the end tomorrow will be a new day and a fresh start. I love their energy and willingness, even if they have attitude!
I, too, have a ridiculous amount of curriculum, some available in an e-version. Feel free to email me if you want copies of what I have:

Jo Strom Lane
Theatre Teacher and Director
Portland Public Schools
Portland OR

6.  RE: Middle School Theatre

Posted 09-20-2014 11:01
Hi Teresa,
I taught High School for 18 years and then began teaching middle school 9 years ago. I love it! You didn't mention what grade levels you are teaching. I have 5 - 8, so I have ideas, lesson plans, activities for each grade level. Feel free to email me,, or call me, 615.567.8511 if you want to talk. 

Tina Tutt
Middle School Theatre Director
Battle Ground Academy
Franklin TN

7.  RE: Middle School Theatre

Posted 09-17-2014 14:24
Thanks Everyone for your helpful Ideas ^.^.  I'm doing great so far and the students seem to be invested in what I'm teaching.
Tips for anyone else reading this
1.) Everyone's attention span is their age plus one , the minute their butts go numb you are no longer interesting
2.) Use all resources the school has to offer
3.) Never teach the same way two days in a row ...I love to keep them guessing
this list is a list in progress

ALSO: if anyone would like any prezis or worksheet for theatre history or tech theatre let me know

Teresa Elmore
Kokomo IN