The other day one of the lovely educators I follow @carlaleeB tweeted a link to an article from Free Technology for Teachers about this website called Goodreads and how it was helpful when teaching student’s about reading and an appreciation and enjoyment of reading. Now, I dabble in a little English teaching myself. It’s not my first love and I probably spend more time teaching English than Drama but it’s still something I do enjoy teaching. Especially when it comes to the appreciation and enjoyment of reading. I’m much better at teaching that than the actually issues in a text.
I then had a think about how this resource could be used in Drama. It got me thinking about two things:
- It’s a place I could go to find text ideas to use in my classes.
- It’s a place my student’s could go to find text ideas for performance.
The NSW HSC (Higher School Certificate) is made up of two components:
- 60% – Practical
- 40% – Theory
Two topics are studied in the theory component: either Contemporary Australian Theatre Practice or Australian Theatre Traditions. You must choose two texts from the prescribed list and look at both theoretically and experientially. The second topic is Studies in Drama and Theatre. Studied in a similar fashion students can choose from a range of topics include Approaches to Acting, Greek Theatre, Irish Drama etc.
The practical component consists of a Group Performance (3 to 6 group members create an original playbuilt piece for between 8-12 minutes) and an Individual Project. This can include anything from Performance, Scriptwriting, Design (Costume, Set, Lighting, Poster and Promotion), Critical Review, Director’s Portfolio or Video Drama.
One of the most popular areas of the HSC and the Individual Project component of the course is Performance. Most Drama student’s choose to perform a monologue. Followed closely by Scriptwriting and Costume Design.
The thing I struggle with the most when it comes to my performance student’s is:
- The lack of dramatic material that they know;
- Their lack of motivation to look for any play scripts;
- Their inability to look and adapt novels and film scripts for performance;
Even with a consultation process and fortnightly peer review and presentation sessions I always find students steering towards an average script from some B-Grade website and an unknown author. Not that I’m being frank or anything (rolls eyes). It’s a hard, cold reality unfortunately and it’s affecting the quality of student performance and ultimately the grade they receive.
At the same time and in complete and utter honesty, I’m often at a loss to remember or have anything on hand that I can think of to recommend to student’s for them to consider researching and performing. As teacher’s we’re in a position to guide student’s and it is incredibly difficult when you have a thousand things to do and be a walking library as well!
That’s why I think Goodreads is a great idea and an inspiration for a new section on my blog: I can connect with others and get ideas about great novels and add them to my new page.
After posting this today I will be beginning to compile a page of recommended movies and books with characters in them that can be adapted for an individual performance. It doesn’t even have to be for the HSC. It can be for any kind of performance. I’ve already got some fantastic ideas.
The website says “Imagine it as a large library that you can wander through and see everyone’s bookshelves, their reviews, and their ratings. You can also post your own reviews and catalog what you have read, are currently reading, and plan to read in the future. Don’t stop there – join a discussion group, start a book club, contact an author, and even post your own writing.”
Some of the features I like include:
- Three shelves: one for “read”, “currently reading” and “to-read”. You can also create your own shelves and name them. “Great Books for Drama” anyone?
- Links with Amazon: When searching for a book to put on your shelf it links with Amazon’s catalogue. Amazon has just about everything so this means your selection of titles is huge!
- Create a Spreadsheet: You can import your book list to Excel. Excel-lent for when you want to give your list of titles to your drama kids as ideas for their monologue performance.
There are plenty of other great features as well. You can sign up through your Facebook account or create a separate login. It also has an i-Phone app and can be followed on both Twitter and Facebook.
How do you find texts for student’s to use? Share your ideas with us in the comments.