Open Forum

Small Class

  • 1.  Small Class

    Posted 09-01-2021 15:03
    Hi friends,

    I teach in a high school that has block scheduling. So I have three classes every day for 90 minutes. My classes usually have between 20 and 30 kids in each section, so I have no problem filling the 90 minutes with instruction. In fact, I often don't get through all I have planned and roll things over into the next day.

    This year however I have one Theatre 1 class with 8 students in it. I like to keep my two sections of Theatre 1 aligned with each other but with such a small class it only takes me 30 minutes to get through my instruction.  I am at a loss on what to do to fill that 90 minutes without getting way ahead of my other theatre 1 class.

    I should mention that my Theatre 1 classes are a performance based class. I cover ensemble building with games, pantomime, improvisation, voice, monologues and scene work. Ensemble building games have been a struggle with only 8 kids. The kids get bored after 30 minutes of pantomime. I am just struggling with how to fill the time without getting ahead of my other theatre 1 class. 

    I am really looking for suggestions on what I can do to fill the time. 


  • 2.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-02-2021 13:55

    I have had luck with small classes doing a few things differently.
    1) I do mental health Mondays.  Start with some guided meditation and then give the students a play to read for the week- fill the options with playwrights of color! Have them write a journal about how they are feelings and what they think about the play- due at the end of the week. (If you do this- then with extra time, they could work on reading their play)
    2) I show more films of plays.  When the broadway on demand posts a show online for a month we watch that, or other movie musicals and things.
    3) Give them more scenes to work on during their free time, so that your lessons always tie back to a scene project.
    4) Show them 1 working in the theatre video a week
    5) Once a week have them research a famous broadway star of their choice and do a brief dicussion about that persons' work.
    6) Have them once a week find an article on acting styles, tips for actors, Broadway bound advice, etc. and share with the class

    You can do all this in addition to your instruction, but I love having a daily thing that starts everyone out.  It keeps planning easy and hands-on for the students!

    I love teaching on a block schedule and I love having small classes in block.  It's the best.

    Brooke Phillips
    Millard West High School

  • 3.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-02-2021 12:59
    I start every class with 20 minutes of fun, whole-class games on stage. I then go some meditative and mindfulness breathing with a full-body scan, which can take up another 10 minutes. I would also think they could do several improv-type scenes with whichever unit you are on. I also do a lot of activities from the TheatreFolks Empathy Unit.

    Amy Sando
    Douglas High School

  • 4.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-02-2021 13:53
    How about having them read some plays aloud, perhaps to find great shows to produce in the future (and save yourself the time)?

    Douglas "Chip" Rome
    Theatre Consultant
    Educational Stages
    Burke VA

  • 5.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-02-2021 14:10
    Adding on to all the great suggestions. You could do script analysis work as a group. Start with some scenes and find the beats, objective, obstacles etc. If they get good at doing it with scenes, you could move onto doing this with a whole play. Students could present scenes utilizing the script analysis work.

    Andrea Johnston

  • 6.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-02-2021 19:30
    Your Theatre 1 class looks exactly like mine in terms of units, however, we have 57 minute blocks instead of 90.  I've had several years with a big contrast in numbers--24 in one class, 12 in another--and I agree it's so hard to keep them together.  Usually, I try to add a few extra activities at the end of each unit for my smaller class so that both classes at least start and end each unit together.  So if we are doing Improvisation, they may get 3 extra improv games that the other class will not play, etc.  To me, it is helpful that at least they are doing the same unit and activities--just a few extra for the smaller class.  Hope this helps!

    Laura Russo
    Teacher/Director of Theatre Arts
    Chatham High School

  • 7.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-03-2021 11:17
    Right there with you. I actually have my smallest acting classes ever this year, one of seven and one of only four. With 90-minute blocks, I'm dying. I agree with previous posters who mentioned mindfulness and empathy (I got a lot of great stuff from DTA). I do a lot of body and voice work as well, especially in Acting I. I have them dramatize poetry with their voices and bodies, we've done story theatre, radio radio drama, a class study play and scene from it, monologue writing & performance, headshots, audition preparation, etc. Hope something in here helps!

    Cassy Maxton-Whitacre
    Theatre Department Coordinator

  • 8.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-03-2021 12:17
    Brooke -- you mention a daily thing that starts everyone out, is that just the meditation Mondays or something else?

    Samantha McCarthy-Lurie
    California Educational Theatre Association

  • 9.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-03-2021 15:00
    I liked having an anchoring activity- mental health Mondays, An article about acting on Tuesdays, a broadway profile on Wednesdays, a short theatrical video on Thursdays and students bring their own article on Fridays.

    Something like that.

    Brooke Phillips
    Teacher/Director of Theatre
    Millard West High School
    Co Chapter Director-Nebraska Thespians

  • 10.  RE: Small Class

    Posted 09-03-2021 16:01
    Oh cool! Thanks for sharing. I am trying to do something like that this year (year 4 of teaching theater).


    Samantha McCarthy-Lurie
    California Educational Theatre Association