Open Forum

1.  New Year, Same Students

Posted 07-16-2017 12:20
Hi all--our school currently offers only two sections of drama classes: beginning and honors. I teach the honors section, and this year's class will be made up of 11 repeat students and 3 new students. The 3 new students have all been in a show with me before, so I think they'll catch up to where the 11 repeating students are fairly easily. The problem is, how do I make this year's class different from last year's so the 11 repeating students aren't bored? We can certainly go "further in depth" with concepts they started working on last year, but what do you do to mix it up and make them feel like it's a new year, not just more of the same? Thanks!

Maralie Medlin
Theatre Arts Educator
Gastonia, NC

2.  RE: New Year, Same Students

Posted 07-17-2017 07:35
Good morning,
My advanced class is always a few new ones and mostly repeating students. I love it because I'm never teaching the same thing twice. I ask myself two questions--"what skills does each student need to improve?" and "what experiences have they not had in class that would broaden their experience or knowledge." With a class of about 15 you should be able to individualize fairly easily to meet each student's needs by varying the material they are working on. Also, I don't know if you have them read and discuss plays, but you can easily change things up by going outside of the box. As students in my school are only familiar with Shakespeare as their only play reading experience, I throw in some of his contemporaries, some "classic" American playwrights--although these may not be their iconic works, as well as some contemporary Tony award winning plays. We usually discuss these as a Socratic seminar.

You might also include some non-acting focused topics as well, such as careers other than actor/ director/ designer and royalty/copyright if you haven't addressed that with them yet.

Just a few thoughts. Hope that helps.

Sent from my iPad

3.  RE: New Year, Same Students

Posted 07-19-2017 15:54
I have taught a combined Acting II/III class for the past several years.  In order to not teach the same thing, I teach it similar to how you would teach a "looped" class.  It's two years of class projects that alternate.  That way, every kid that takes Acting II and Acting III gets to do "The College Project," where students explore college opportunities in the arts.  Just, some do it their junior year, and others do it their senior year.

Some pieces stay the same--beginning the year with "show us your best work" and our legitimate theater project (a combination of basic dramaturgy and scene presentation).  These pieces are "new" every year, because the material students work with is new each time.

So, you don't have to reinvent the wheel, but if this model is going to continue for you, this is a suggestion of how to attack it.

Kristen Statt
Thunderhawk Theater Director
Lakota East High School
Liberty Twp, OH

4.  RE: New Year, Same Students

Posted 07-19-2017 16:50
Hi Kristen,
I'm teaching an advanced course this year that is a combined II and III course as well.

I was looking at your post and I was wondering if you would be willing to share more info about the projects/assignments you were referring to?  I'm looking for new assignments that are challenging for advanced level students.

Do you have assignment sheets or expectations you would be willing to share for the "college project" , "show us your best work" and the "legitimate theater project?"

If you only feel comfortable sharing more info about them descriptively, I understand and would appreciate any further descriptions!  They sound interesting!

Thank you!

Naomi Rollins
Beginning, Intermediate & Honors Drama and English Teacher
Lynbrook High School
San Jose, CA

5.  RE: New Year, Same Students

Posted 07-20-2017 07:43
Great ideas here. If any of you are willing to post a lesson plan or rubric , it would be great!
Show us your best work  and the College research sound especially interesting.

Heather Davidson
Drama Teacher
Augusta GA

6.  RE: New Year, Same Students

Posted 07-19-2017 10:12
For years, I have struggle with coming up with new and interesting lesson plans for the repeat students in my Advanced Theatre class, which consists of a combined sections of Theatre 2, 3, and 4.  Many times some of the same students enroll all four years of high school. (which is such a blessing!) After being inspired by a trip to NYC where I saw all true American stories ( Hamilton, On Your Feet, Shuffle Along and Fun Home), I decided to make American plays and playwrights my theme for last school year. We read Laramie Project, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Piano Lesson, and The Heidi Chronicles and then the students performed scene work from these plays. All of the plays read reflected on a time period in American history. For the midterm and final exams, students created their own work based one the techniques of the playwrights that we studied.  For example, the students used verbatim theatre which was used in Laramie Project to create a new piece of theatre based on their own lives.

This year my theme is going to be theatre from around the world. My plan is to study Greek theatre, Commedia del Arte, Shakespeare, Moliere, as well as, the great acting teachers from Russia.

Having attended workshops where professional actors advise students to read as many plays as they can, I have tried to add reading at least one play each quarter to my lesson plans.  Next year I plan to make my theme genre's: mystery, comedy, absurdist theatre, and court room drama. My plan to to have a three year rotation so that there are no repeat lessons and they don't build on each other so that if a student skips a year or transfers in from another school, they still can jump right in.

Great question- hope that helps :)

Marla Blasko
Theatre Arts Director
Columbia MD

7.  RE: New Year, Same Students

Posted 07-20-2017 12:10
I just got chills- what a great idea! I'm a-fire with inspiration. Thank you, Marla!

Autumn Gonzales
Certified Teacher
Estacada School District
Portland OR