My Creative Juices Are Stuck

This is an honest post.

I’m going to admit some stuff. About me. About blogging.

I think my creative juices are stuck. I’m not sure where the blog is going.

I  apologise for my lengthy absence. I have not prioritised the blog as much as I should have.

Some things are keeping me stuck. I can’t seem to move forward with the blog.

I enjoy writing and sharing my drama thoughts with you but I’ll admit I have hit a bit of a lull in my resourcing of units and therefore my desire to share them with you. What does this mean for my teaching? If you don’t have good quality work to share, why share it? I pride myself on the quality of my resources too so I am not going to post it if I don’t think it’s good enough.

I’ve been conscious of becoming consumed by the online world and reading and posting about teaching. To keep balance and avoid burn out I have been limiting my interactions somewhat.

I’ll admit that people have used my resources to earn grades in their assessment tasks at university, without prior request and that miffed me a bit. In fact, it miffed me A LOT and I really questioned why on earth I was committing so much time to this blog. I share my resources for teachers out in the field who are struggling, need new ideas, additional support. Out of good will. I don’t feel that I am here to be an easy way to complete an assignment.

I am aware that my writing is by no means perfect. There are readers who have told me so and I have approved their comments and tried to make the necessary changes in acknowledgement of that. I apologise for my errors and aim to be more conscious of them in future.

My intention is to write a little more frequently in the coming weeks. Please know that I am grateful for your readership and that I try my best to produce quality resources for you. That I do this in my free time, for the love of my subject, for teaching and I am glad that I do because I know I have helped people. You have told me so and that is why I am glad to do it. Teachers need to support each other. We are not islands.

Thank you for your understanding, readership and feedback. I really do appreciate it. Yet, I believe in honesty and transparency when it is for your own gain: i.e. promotion, assessment etc.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you again soon.

K.

Happy World Theatre Day!

Wherever you are in the world I hope you and your class are celebrating.

Please share your celebrations with us at http://worldtheatreday.info

Our school decided to make a video in response to the question, “What does theatre mean to you?”

This is what our staff and students had to say. We would love for you to take a look.

Enjoy your day.

How About This to Get Your Kids Writing in Their Journal…?

I’ve blogged before about my gripe with the logbook. That it can be a bit tokenistic sometimes. An add on at the end of class with little focus on using reflective and literacy skills. I say this only because that’s how I’ve felt when I’m in my classroom and using the logbook. I’m slowly refining the scaffolding of writing tasks but I feel like I still have a way to go.

With my seniors I’ve posted before about the checklist of work that I get them to do to show their process. As an add on to that I’ve started something called a Drama Panel. It’s an idea I got from my Head Teacher who set it up in a similar way for Art.

I set up the classroom as if it is a boardroom in a big office. One big long table with chairs around it. Each student must attend and their parents are also invited.  I ask my colleagues to act as panelists. The panel is scheduled at the same time over three terms and culminates with the final performance evening prior to their final exam.

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At the first panel meeting I survey the parents to gauge how much they actually know about the Individual Project. I will then survey them again at the end of the process. I plan to particularly focus on how they were best able to support their child when at home as a result of knowing what was going on in the classroom.

The students are asked to present their logbook and a statement of intention. I will write about this in a future post. In the second panel meeting which will occur this term they must present their draft director’s concept/rationale and their logbook once again. The third and final panel meeting before the showcase will involve the students showing their projects in workshop mode. Meaning, Performance projects may perform the opening of their piece, scriptwriters will workshop a scene from their script etc.

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After each panel, the logbook, statement of intention, rationale and/or project are collected and a progress mark is given. Overall I have made the internal assessment of the IP worth 20% but you could weight it whatever you like. I divide the weighting up in a 5-5-10 percent ratio. At the final panel meeting the students can take their logbook and project back to make any last minute changes before it is submitted prior to the showcase. This occurs early in Term 3.

The project should be 99.9% finished at this point leaving some room after the showcase to make any changes as is necessary. I put the pressure on to have it done by this time because the students go off on their Trials early in Term 3 and their focus is not back on their project until after this time and there isn’t much time left after that!

The students must write a series of questions to ask the panelists who provide verbal and written feedback on each project which the student then sticks in their logbook.

So far my first panel was really successful. I think it is a good strategy for a couple of reasons:

  • It makes the student accountable for their logbook and their process;
  • It involves parents in their child’s work which they may not have done previously because they weren’t familiar or confident with what the project requires or involves;
  • It encourages collaboration with other teachers. It is great PD for them and it is good for you as the teacher because 3-4 brains is much better than one. The ideas I have been getting are fantastic.

So, if you’re trying to up the quality of the logbook or motivate lazy students, particularly for your seniors, maybe give this a whirl.

Photo Credit: oropeza via Compfight cc

Help Us Celebrate World Theatre Day

You may or may not know that March 27th is World Theatre Day.

It’s pretty exciting to know that theatre gets its own day of recognition alongside talking like a pirate and pancakes.

You also may or may not know that back in 2013 my Twitter pal @edtech4theatre and I started the World’s Biggest Theatre Ensemble through our first World Theatre Day celebration. You can read about it here and here.

Suffice to say, we’re keen to revive and expand it and we need you to help us.

We recently spoke on TheatreCast about the upcoming day and how you can get involved. We’ve also set up a website which you can check out here.

All we’re really keen to do is have teachers celebrate the day in any way they can – big or small. Maybe you just organise a special lesson with your class. Maybe you present something at a school assembly.  Send it to us and we’ll share it on our webpage. We’re adding information to the website so if you need ideas, permission notes to allow your students to be photographed and used in the public domain you can access it all here at the site. If you want to co-ordinate a gathering of drama teachers go ahead and do it.

Either way we just want to spread the word that teachers all over the world are doing awesome stuff in their classroom every day and we want people to see it, share it and be proud of it. Let’s spread the message that the arts matter.

Please share this post with your colleagues via your school email system, share it on your personal social media pages. Let’s just spread the message of #theatrelove.

Stay tuned to this blog or the World Theatre Day website for updates. Hope to share your WTD fun on March 27th.

Image Credit: www.breaksincornwall.com

An Offer For You…

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to open my email and find a large number of notifications for new followers to the blog. I was overwhelmed and felt extremely grateful that many of you have felt this blog is a place that you can get information to support you with your teaching. From this gesture you have shown me, I feel very motivated to continue to deliver free content for teachers whenever I am able to. Thank you for this lovely reminder.

To all my followers, new and old, may I encourage you to also join the community over on Facebook. There are so many teachers who have a lot to share. I encourage you to look at the Posts to Page section.

I was also contacted recently by Andy from The National Theatre who has let me know about their upcoming Drama Teacher Conference. It sounds AWESOME. I wish I could go!

So. If you are in the UK, you are a follower of this blog and have also joined the Facebook group (see the link over at the right hand side of the page) AND you want to go on some fabulous PD (I mean, with guests like Alecky Blythe who wouldn’t?) you could enjoy a £50 discount on the cost of attending both days of the conference. For more information see the flyer below, check out the link that I mentioned above or contact Andy at apritchard@nationaltheatre.org.uk and let him know you are a member of this great community.

For those followers not in the UK, please enjoy this gift of inspiration from Alan Rickman :-)

Alan Rickman

Have a lovely, restful weekend drama teachers.

The National Theatre Teacher Professional Development Flyer

HSC Drama: Individual Project (Poster & Promotion) Checklist

Below is another checklist I give any student who is completing the Poster & Promotion project. This list is designed specifically for a student who is studying War Crimes by Angela Betzien. Hopefully you can use or adapt this to suit your students. If you have students completing a project on Scriptwriting or Performance you can see some checklists for those projects here and here respectively.

CONSULTATION SCHEDULE – Stick this new schedule in for this term and ensure you are committing to your meeting time each week. After each consultation you should write a logbook entry. Date everything.

LOGBOOK CHECKLIST – Stick this in and tick off items when completed. Date and sign when each item is done.

LOOK AT EXAMPLES OF OLD PROJECTS & LOGBOOKS – There are a selection of projects and examples in the Resource Room. Write a logbook entry. Date it. Start collecting examples of work that you might like to model your designs on.

RESEARCH – Find information on the following: ·

  • The desecration of war memorials
  • The role Australia played in the War on Terror
  • Living in a regional town as a young person – constraints, opportunities etc.
  • Refugees moving to remote towns – the difficulty of living in two cultures.
  • The ANZAC “hero”

Write a logbook entry that considers how the research that you have done has stimulated your own ideas and how you might like to incorporatethe ideas you have had so far. Create a vision board of images that could be used for your poster/program/flyer.

THEMES– Write an explanation of the storyline and action in about ten lines. Next write a list of the themes that are in the play. Re-write your explanation focusing on the themes and how they are developed in the story. Find/create an image that best represents each of them.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS – From your research and your own interpretation write a short paragraph describing the characters in the play and their journey. What links them together? Condense these down into one word that describes each of them. Find images that best represent them.

THE WORLD OF THE PLAY/FINDING A KEY IMAGE – Look online for past productions of the play and how they have staged/promoted the show. Look at the cover of the play for inspiration. What clues does it give the reader about mood/atmosphere? Decide on a stage spacethat you would use if you were to direct this play. Consider a particular theatre company and the space that would best suit the world of the play. Look at their promotional material as well as their company vision/target audience to see how they have recently promoted shows. Compile a vision board of set and costume ideas for your characters. Find pictures of lighting, images, symbols, music, colours, motifs that you might like to use throughout your play, particularly when transitioning between space and time. Write a paragraph that describes the world of the play as the audience would see it for the first time at the beginning of the play. Do the same for any other key moments in the play. Draft some key images that you might like to use for the poster.

DIRECTOR’S CONCEPT (DRAFT) – Using the scaffold provided, write a draft rationale/director’s concept of 300 words about your project. L

LOGBOOK CHECK – This will be in Week 7, 9 and 10. We will have a group feedback session at the beginning of our Thursday lesson (Wk 7A) in this week to tell each other what we have been doing.

DRAMA PANEL #2 – Present your draft rationale/director’s concept to the panel. Discuss any challenges faced and how they were overcome. Ask any questions of the panel as you see fit at this point in your project.

INITIAL DESIGNS – At the direction of your teacher, begin sketching the layout for your poster and in particular the main image. Show this to your teacher and analyse how well it:

  • Incorporates all the elements of a poster (i.e. name of play, playwright, theatre company, sponsor logos (if any), cast (if used), booking & info details)
  • Communicates this information clearly to the audience
  • Reveals the mood/atmosphere/dramatic tension/interpretation of the play

What are some activities you get your students to complete as part of their project? Share them below.

Photo Credit: Malika Ladak via Compfight cc

HSC Drama: Individual Performance (Scriptwriting) Checklist

I’ve been posting a series of checklists that can be used to get students focused on completing their Individual Project. You can check the one I use for the first term here and the Performance checklist here.

Similar to what I mentioned in my post the other day, this list below for scriptwriting follows on from the one from Term 1. So if there is anything from Term 1 that the student hasn’t completed, get them to complete those things first before moving on to the next list.

It’s taken me a long time to feel as though I have refined my scaffolding of scriptwriting tasks into something that is both helpful to the student as well as myself. Writing is such a unique process for every writer so sometimes I find it difficult to have a one size fits all approach. Often I have this list but may jumble up the order in which things are completed. In the end everything on the list will need to be done. As long as the student gets there in the end that’s all that matters. How that happens is all part of the process. Flexibility as a teacher with this project is also one of the per-requisites of getting through it!

Hopefully, you find this list helpful. I’m keen to know what other strategies are being used to help students who do a scriptwriting project or unit of work. Please share your thoughts in the comments.

CONSULTATION SCHEDULE – Stick this new schedule in for this term and ensure you are committing to your meeting time each week. After each consultation you should write a logbook entry. Date everything.

LOGBOOK CHECKLIST – Stick this in and tick off items when completed. Date and sign when each item is done.

LOOK AT EXAMPLES OF OLD PROJECTS & LOGBOOKS – There are a selection of projects and examples in the Resource Room. Write a logbook entry. Date it. Start collecting examples of work that you might like to model your script on.

RESEARCH – Find information on the following:

·         The issues, themes, ideas that you want to explore in your play.

·         The style of play (realism, absurdist, musical etc.)

·         Plays that use that particular performance style or themes, issues, ideas and how are they shown on stage.

Write a logbook entry that considers how the research that you have done has stimulated your own ideas and how you might like to incorporate them into your script to develop your idea. How might some of this be incorporated in your characters?

SYNOPSIS – Write an explanation of the storyline and action in about ten lines . If you have several synopsis ideas do the same for those. Discuss these ideas with your teacher and redraft your synopsis if necessary.

CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS – Using the guide given to you by your teacher, complete all the questions as though you are in role. Condense this down into one short paragraph of key information. Condense this down further into a single sentence.

CREATE A FRAMEWORK – Using the guide given to you by your teacher, map out a rough scene/act guide for your play. Write a single sentence explaining the main objective of each scene for each of the characters. You might like to give each scene a title or simply number them.

THE WORLD OF THE PLAY – Decide on a stage spacethat you are going to use. Consider a particular theatre company and the space that would best suit the world of the play. Compile a vision board of set and costume ideas for your characters. Find pictures of lighting, images, symbols, music, colours, motifs that you might like to use throughout your play, particularly when transitioning between space and time. Consider the practicality of the space for the play’s purpose: how will scene and costume changes happen, entrances and exits etc. Write a paragraph that describes the world of the play as the audience would see itfor the first time at the beginning of the play. Do the same for any other key moments in the play.

DIRECTOR’S CONCEPT (DRAFT) – Using the scaffold provided, write a draft rationale/director’s concept of 300 words about your script.

LOGBOOK CHECK – This will be in Week 7, 9 and 10. We will have a group feedback session at the beginning of our Thursday lesson (Wk 7A) in this week to tell each other what we have been doing.

DRAMA PANEL #2 – Present your draft rationale/director’s concept to the panel. Provide a working title for your script. Discuss any challenges faced and how they were overcome. Ask any questions of the panel as you see fit at this point in your project.

WRITING DIALOGUE & BEGINNING TO DRAFT – At the direction of your teacher, begin writing dialogue for the opening scene. Show this to your teacher and analyse how well it:

·         Moves the story forward

·         Communicates information to the audience

·         Reveals character and relationships

·         Reveals the emotional states of the characters

·         Comment on the action

Photo Credit: Carrie_Baughcum via Compfight cc