Using ALARM in the Drama Classroom

clocks

My latest explorations in the Drama classroom have revolved around the drama essay and improving the literacy of my students as well as the quality of the writing tasks I ask my students to produce during class.

In introducing you to ALARM it would be worth starting at the finished product before moving back towards the beginning of the process. Have a look at Max Wood’s video below. The matrix that he talks about is what you are aiming for your students to be able to produce independently. Eventually.

Why, eventually? Well, the thing I’ve learnt from these matrices (and I’ve made a couple now) is that before you get your students to create one, you will need to create one for yourself so you know exactly where your kids are heading. That’s when it can seem a little overwhelming. In all honesty, I would say it requires an initial outlay of time (I’m talking a good 2-3 hours) to produce the resource and get your head round how to deliver it to your kids. Once you’ve done it though, you’re set. You will save yourself hours of work later on.

It’s a HUGE area and one that its creator, Max Woods, is much better at explaining than I am so I’ll just direct you to his multitude of YouTube clips to help you familiarise yourself with the matrix and how it is put together.

Here’s a quick intro vid from Max himself:

 

I do think this kind of matrix is worthwhile. It makes you think in the way that your kids need to. It develops the thinking skills needed to apply the content. The content means very little if it isn’t applied in the right way and I think that’s where a lot of our drama kids miss the mark. I really feel this is avoidable. In my teaching I know I don’t commit as much time to theory as I should. The kids are generally fairly reluctant and many in the course are not the most skilled writers so it feels like a chore. I plough on through but I feel the resistance.

At the moment I’m trying to reintroduce the matrices back into my teaching but also more specifically look at direction words and their influence on guiding students to write a response. From this I’m also looking at how these direction words could be more influential in directing the types of responses we ask our students to produce in their logbooks after a workshop or whilst devising or rehearsing.

To some degree I think we do skip over the direction words of questions when we’re teaching, assuming that our kids already know what they mean. We then launch into a structure and direction that is going to ensure that the content is sandwiched in as best as possible not really realising that the direction word probably has an influence on this structure in the first place.

I really feel that refining this area could mean the difference between one result or another one that is higher. It only needs to be a few marks that do it too. Coupling this kind of teaching with the appropriate choice of theory topic and well designed experiential learning could mean essay success! Well, this is what I am hoping for certainly.

I’m in the process of developing these skills with my Year 11 students so I will share some of the resources as I go. I’m also looking to backward map this in the Stage 5 drama units and assessment tasks as well as incorporating the literacy continuum. I’ll try to keep you posted with resources as I go.

A Quick Drama Taster Lesson (Prior to That Dreaded Subject Selection Evening)

Convinced Meme

Each year Drama teachers the world over have to sell their subject to a bunch of kids (often from primary school) either to give them a taste of high school life or to genuinely get them to take their subject in an elective year.

It is an ongoing battle that I don’t think any of us can rest on our laurels about. I would describe it as a fairly big PR exercise that we have to undertake every year, particularly prior to subject selection evening in order to remind people that our subject exists and yep, it’s worthwhile doing it.

I was sharing what I have done a number of times with a colleague of mine today who is doing it for the first time so I thought I’d share it with you too. Maybe it will be a good guide for when you are planning to do your own taster lesson. I’ve also attached this Drama Information for Open Night flyer I have made and photocopied onto A5 sheets to hand out at subject selection evenings, open nights etc. There are also a whole bunch of articles online (like this one), many of which I have shared on the Facebook page that you could also include about why Drama is such an important subject for students to take if there are still people who are not convinced.

I hope this is useful to you.

1. Start in a circle, introduce yourself and what you do as a Drama Teacher. Ensure you’ve chosen a space where you can make noise and not bother other classes. We do ours on the Swimming and Athletics Carnival days so the school is empty.

2. Ask students if anyone has done drama before or seen any drama before. The kids will often list a lot of musicals that they have seen. When prompting them about doing drama I ask them what it involves and try to steer them towards a few key things: focus, facial expressions (they often will use the word “emotions” so I ask them “how do we show this”), body language (they often forget about this one), team work, improvisation. Then I base the activities on these things.

3. We play 21 to work on our focus. They usually don’t even get close to 10 but it’s fun. This game is listed under the Warm Up Games tab on the blog.

4. We play Knots to focus on team work. We also make letters of the alphabet in larger groups (say splitting a group of about 20 in half). This game is also listed under the Warm Up Games tab on the blog.

5. I play Dollars and Cents to get them into smaller groups (why not whack in a bit of numeracy?) after this. Everyone is either a 5 or 10 cent piece and they have to make dollar amounts. For example if I call out “20cents!” 4 five cent pieces need to huddle together to form a group. They then use these groups to complete the next activity which is building inanimate objects with their bodies. I always do the Harbour Bridge because I love it (no other reason). Others I’ve asked them to create include a desktop computer, car, lawn mower.

6. For facial expressions we play Me, You. We start with the face but then of course the kids realise that it comes through in their walk and their voice. I talk about “turning up the volume” so we exaggerate our actions so they are big and silly.

7. Finally, this leads into very basic improvisation with the game “What are you doing?”

8. If there is time I extend on this with lengthier improvs and A LOT of side coaching.

9. I have also done Object Spitfire to a song as a further intro to improvisation. I think I did Uptown Funk last year. It was relevant to the kids so they loved it .

I’ve found that all this gets me through about a 45 minute lesson but after doing it a couple of times round (we have a rotational system so you might see 4-5 groups of 20 in a day) you get quite quick so maybe have a couple of things up your sleeve just in case you have a bit of time left.

Any other ideas that have worked for you? Please share in the comments below. 

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for my blog. I always like to share this with my readers so as to thank you for your readership throughout 2015. I’d also like to wish you a happy, healthy and safe 2016. I look forward to your continued readership this year.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 810,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 35 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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.

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

2014 In Review

So 2014 is on its way out. It has been a big year for me personally and professionally and I have not committed as much time to the blog as I would’ve liked. Readjusting to a new school is tough!

I hope to get back to it a little more regularly in 2015.

I would like to thank those of you who follow the blog and who generously take the time to read and comment on posts. I really do appreciate it. The professional dialogue and sharing of resources that I am able to have with many of you is invaluable to me as a teacher and makes me feel connected and supported. Hopefully the Network helps you to feel the same.

I’ll probably do my annual change of the theme/layout so look out for a bit of a spruce up in the next week or so.

Every year the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepares an annual report for this blog. Here’s our 2014 report card. It is thanks to you, the readers, that despite a relatively quiet year in terms of writing, the blog has still endured significant readership throughout the year. Many thanks. Happiness and health to you all in 2015.

Karla

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 410,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 18 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Quick Ideas for Physical Theatre, Inspired by Soccer Players!

Hello loyal followers. Long time no write.

I apologise.

It has been one hectic year and I haven’t been able to prioritise the blog as much as I would like. Ah, the joys of starting at a new school.

I have a stack of posts I want to write and hopefully as the year winds down and we head into summer break here in Australia, I can catch up and get some new material out. I have a heap of stuff I would like to share and have been meaning to for some time.

Having said that, I was sitting down watching television the other night after a long day at work and one of the segments was about the creative ways soccer players celebrate after they shoot a goal. I thought to myself, “These clips are brilliant for my Year 9 Drama class.” They really are an excellent way to show how to use the body to tell a story or make an object. They could be a great way to start off a lesson or link in when you are talking about movement and using your bodies to make shapes etc.

Below are a just a few that I thought were pretty good but if you have a bit of a search around YouTube there are plenty more.

1. The Fish Celebration

 

2. The Rowing Celebration

 

3.  The Swimming Celebration

 

4. The Grenade Celebration