Free Resources

So, it’s that time of year when many of you are preparing for your classes next year.

There is a lot of programming and resourcing happening.

I always like this time of year for that reason. The anticipation of a new year, new group of students and a chance to try teaching things in a way that you haven’t before.

A couple of times on the blog I’ve offered my programs and resources. I’m more than happy to do it but now I’ve found a more efficient way to do it. So many people were asking for copies of my programs and such and I was emailing so many different people at different times I was becoming confused as to who I had or had not sent things to!

So now, there is one central place where you can find PDF’s of the resources, programs, scope & sequences I have created and used. Just check out the Resources tab at the top of the blog. My first addition is my Stage 6 Approaches to Acting program that I wrote about a little while ago. I’ll keep adding things over time. Also, let me know if the viewing/printing quality isn’t too crash hot. From the test I did it was looking a little pixelated.

I hope you find it useful. Enjoy the last few weeks of term.

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The Websites & WebTools Every Drama Teacher Needs to Use in 2012

2011 was a huge learning curve for me in terms of networking and improving my teaching practice through the use of social media and blogging.

The resources and websites I have discovered as a result of all of this has been incredible. So that is why I’ve compiled a list of some of the cool things I’ve found out in the world of the Internet thanks to the kindness of others who have been willing to share what they know. You may like to try some of these with your classes this year. Some are useful for Drama others you may find beneficial to another colleague in your school.

So delve deep, jump in and see how much fun you and your student’s can have with some of these tools this year.

Websites

Ted Talks – Over 900 talks in a number of different languages from people wanting to spread ideas. Totally worth a look. I’ve blogged about TED here.

Goodreads – Social media for booklovers. A place to update your friends on what you’re reading and what you thought of it. Has potential in the classroom me thinks. I’ve blogged about Goodreads here.

Google Docs – Communal documents accesible from any computer, anywhere, anytime. Did someone say scriptwriting? Or class playbuilding? I’ve blogged about Google docs here.

Open Attribute – An easy add on to make sure you are accurately acknowleding Creative Commons sources. I’ve blogged about it here.

Compfight – A huge database containing great Creative Commons images. Links directly with Open Attirbute.

AustralianPlays.org – Find every play you need for class here.

KeepVid.com – Download and save any YouTube or other film clip you find on the net. Great if you’re stuck for Internet connection. I’ve blogged about it here.

School Tube – Share what’s going on at your school here. A great alternative to YouTube. I’ve blogged about it here.

Shows for Schools – A fantastic database to help you find the right show to perform or see with your kids.

Drama Matters –  A new blog that looks at the direction of Arts Education in Australia and abroad.

Technology & Arts Education Wiki – Great links and ideas for teaching drama. Join wikispaces to contribute.

The Arts – NSW Curriculum and Learning Innovation Centre – NSW teachers would be well versed in this site but I highly recommend it to any interstate and overseas teachers.

National Theatre i-Tunes Podcasts – A fantastic selection of podcasts all about making theatre from one of the world’s most well respected theatre companies. Now also available on iTunesU.

The Drama Teacher’s Wiki – A collection of drama games compiled by drama teachers. Join wikispaces to contribute.

WebTools

Fakebook – Create imaginary profile pages for the characters you are studying.

Class Dojo – Manage your classes with the help of technology.

Edmodo – A communication platform similar to Facebook. Add assignments, links and clips. Join communities.

Animoto – A video slideshow maker with music.

Popplet – A brainstorming tool.

qwiki – Search it to find quick answers to quick questions.

Storybird – Create short stories with students and find the artwork to match. Just beautiful.

Vimeo – A video sharing site.

Slideshare – A powerpoint sharing site.

Scoop It – Create your own digital magazine. Way cool.

Vistaprint – Cheap teacher tools at your fingertips.

EduTeacher – A database to find more web resources and tools if you haven’t already.

Khan Academy – Lots of great clips for maths and science teachers here. I’ve blogged about it here.

Prezi – A funky way to create presentations.

Got any more web tools or resources that you would love to share? Comments appreciated.

Image Credit: seventh sense / woodleywonderworks / CC BY 2.0

Perfect My Practice: The Drama Learning Space

I wanted to share my classroom with you today. It’s my office and it’s where I go to everyday to (hopefully) transform lives.

I’ve been thinking about doing this for awhile for a couple of reasons.

As much as I love my learning space, I also don’t like it very much. It’s a love/hate relationship. I have an ideal of  and how I would like my classroom to function and I often have to put it to the back of my mind but every now and then it resurfaces and reminds me of what I need to do to it. What I wanted to do was get feedback from readers on ways that I could potentially make this room a better space. A performance space as much as a learning space. As much as these photos may look like an OH&S issue waiting to happen, we seem to function quite well in here – and pass OH&S assessments 🙂

My classroom is actually a converted art room. It was painted black to resemble the inside of a darkened theatre. You wouldn’t believe how many kids ask me why it’s painted black. That’s how many of them have never been to a theatre. The windows open and close and the large black rostra I got one of my colleague’s construction classes to make. The seats open and close so we can store costumes, props, lighting equipment etc in them. I’m hoping to get another one built. The fans work but get stuck at a certain speed. It can be stifling in summer and in winter it is finger-numbingly cold. The heater is one of those gas numbers. Not good for our lungs apparently.

The kids created this “lounge” using the portable blocks. Portable blocks are fantastic for the classroom and can be used for everything whether it be creating minimal sets for performances or simply to use in classroom exercises. They are very practical. You can probably see a large, orange rectangle on the floor. That is where this giant cupboard used to be. I got our maintainence man to rip them it out last year and the space it’s created has made such a difference. I got the kids to paint it black for me. I’d ideally like to have mirrors along this entire wall and a curtain that can be pulled across it. I’d also like the curtains to cover the sides of the room and act like “wings” for the performance space. There are two metal bars on each side of the classroom that can be used to put lights on. What do you think?

I have a portable white board that I can move around the room. It’s even become a prop at times. We have been learning how to write expositions in drama. That is the scaffold written on the board. “Drama is a beneficial subject” was my statement for argument 🙂

I added some colour to my classroom by getting the elements of drama printed up on separate pieces of different colour paper, in different fonts and laminated. I then pinned them to one of the two noticeboards in the room.

This is the other noticeboard. The purple poster in the middle displays the different careers you can have if you enjoy “entertainment”. The other purple poster “Nail Every Answer” was a poster designed by our maths department to develop the practice of Newman’s Error Analysis. It is a step by step guide to reading, understanding and answering a question. Other things on display include something we call a “Senior Charter”, linking words when writing in Drama, and a reminder about not taking photos of video of others without their permission.

Now, for my eyesores in the room…

Ugh, a remnant from its former life as an art room. I’m tossing up whether to get rid of it. Should I?

This is part of the art room cupboards I could not get rid of because the previous teacher put in a three phase power supply here. I’m really keen to get something portable so I can get rid of this but from my research they are all very dear and my budget is only $600. Yes, $600. What do you think I can do about this?

Finally, this is my storage space. I share it with the art and photography teachers. I hate it. Many teachers and parents have shown me enormous generosity in the time that I have been a teacher at my school. They have donated props and costumes and anything they think could be a set piece they’ve given it to me. I’ve had to start saying no however because I have nowhere to put anything. I bought some horribly cheap clothes racks and they fell apart so now the clothes are in piles, or crates. I hate that I don’t have a definite space to have student’s come in and choose props and costumes to use and then put them back when they’re finished. Kind of like a library but without books. What can I do?

Do you have any suggestions on how I could improve my classroom? What is your learning space like? Do you love it/hate it? What would you change? Please share them with me in the comments.

Image Credits: The Drama Room, karlao, 2011

Resources and Suggestions for Creating Radio Plays

I recently trialled a new unit of work with my Year 9 Drama class. I wanted to share with you the basic unit structure that I followed and some of the resources from the Internet that I used and that you also might find useful.

Aim: To learn about the elements of a radio play and utilise them to create an original radio play and podcast.

Equipment: Audacity or other sound editing software, examples of radio plays, examples of scripts, sound effects CDs or websites.

1. What is a Radio Drama?

Start with a simple brainstorm that gets student’s thinking about radio drama. Have some springboard questions like:

  • Who listens to the radio?
  • What stations do you listen to?
  • What type of station is it? Talkback, music?
  • What audience is your station aimed at? How can you tell?
  • What do you think people did before i-pods, computers, movies and television for entertainment?
  • What conventions or techniques do you think radio plays had to have in order to be succesful?

At the conclusion of the brainstorm read some information about the history of radio plays. This page from Wikipedia is useful. In addition, ensure student’s understand the techniques and conventions used. These should include:

  • Narrative Structure
  • Vocal Delivery
  • Use of Sound Effects and Music

To add a practical element, break student’s into groups and ask them to create a 1 minute summary performance of the history of a radio drama.

2. Listen and Read Examples

Find examples of radio plays and their scripts  to listen to in class. I chose science fiction and horror style plays because they can use a great range of sound effects and student’s create unusual voices for a variety of characters such as monsters, aliens, detectives etc. The play need only be short. No longer than 5-7 minutes. A great example to focus on is War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.

Whilst listening, have student’s jot down (perhaps have a handout here in table format) the following:

  • What is the plot?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What are the characters like? How can I tell?
  • What effect does the sound effects have? Do they help or hinder the story?

Ideally these questions are driven to get student’s to think about the techniques and conventions mentioned above.

It might also be an idea to link in the elements of drama and have student’s use the appropriate terminology. Even adding a final question such as, “Which elements of drama have been used?” and “How have they been used?” would be great.

3. Vocal Workshop

Student’s then participate in a vocal workshop looking at things such as:

  • Breathing and Controlling the Breath.
  • Warming Up the Voice and Face.
  • Intonation, Annunciation, Phrasing and Volume.
  • Accents.
  • Voice Care.

These links might also help:

4. Brainstorming Ideas

Have student’s form groups and give them some questions to springboard the flow of ideas. These could include:

  • Time/Place: Where and when will your radio play be set?
  • Role/Character: Who are your main characters? Who is the narrator? Describe their qualities? What kind of voice will they have?
  • Situation/Dramatic Tension/Conflict: What is going to be the main problem for these characters in the time and place that you have set your play?
  • How will it be resolved?

To add a practical element to this aspect of the process, get student’s up and improvising in groups the ideas that they have. Get them to present them to the class and get them, the audience to provide feedback. This could be done several times as ideas develop and change.

Bubbl.us might be a good online tool to use here.

5. Look at Examples of Written Radio Play Scripts

Here are some examples of the layout of scripts. Read them, act them out, focusing in particular on vocal delivery as opposed to movement. Have the audience close their eyes rather than watch and provide feedback to performers on what they understood about their character just from listening to their voice.

These links may help:

6. Audacity

Model and scaffold mini recording activities (advertisements, promos, a teaser for their play) so student’s get the hang of using Audacity. They can create test reels. You could ask them to submit these for marking alongside their radio play.

7. Writing and Recording

Student’s prepare a script, rehearse it and record it ensuring they have included all the techniques and conventions of a radio drama.

These links will help with writing:

8. Convert to a Podcast

Create a Podcast channel on i-Tunes for your student’s radio plays, promote them on your school website, Facebook page or Twitter account. Have each student create an avatar for their radio play and a small blurb to entice readers to download their play.

This link from Livebinders may help.

9. Compile the Logbook and Write a Reflection

Ensure all worksheets and group rehearsals are reflected on in the logbook and submit it for marking. It should demonstrate process and include written entries on what problems the group had and how they were solved, various drafts of the script, draft avatars and blurbs, reflection on audience feedback given during improvised performance and a review of their own personal performance, their group and other groups.

Here are some other resources I found useful:

Other examples of lesson plans:

Image Credit: Radio Daze / Ian Hayhurst / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fantastic Find: How to Keep All Those Great YouTube Clips!

The classroom environment has certainly changed now that technology is ever present in our lives. The relationship between the teacher and the student is such a different one now. The shift in a lesson between teacher as leader and student as leader is always changing. Especially when using technology.

What amazes me is the wealth of knowledge students have about what is available on the Internet to make things easier for us. I’m not that old but I don’t have a lot of time to sit around on the Internet and look for resources. Thanks to the Edublogs Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge I’ve recently discovered ways of gathering a lot of resources in a few simple locations so I’m keeping up to date with things a lot better. Things like Twitter and Google Reader and Email Subscriptions. I recently had an experience where I felt like I was the student and I’m all the better for it.

I’d been struggling to get my YouTube clips to play because I couldn’t update Adobe Flash Player. The DER laptops we have been given do not allow us to update to the latest Flash Player software (the issues with this I could save for another post!)  I told my students this and one of them promptly piped up with a website suggestion, took over downloading it for me and then watched over my shoulder as I showed him how to download a second video in the way that he had taught me!

The gem of a website one of my little darlings showed me this week was a website called KeepVid.com

Simply copy and paste the URL of the video you wish to download, select the file type (preferably MP4 according to my star pupil) and ta-da! It downloads it, saving it wherever you’ve requested it to be saved. I now have a permanent folder full of YouTube resources that I can use over and over again without ever having to go onto the site! Easy.

Have you had a student-teacher moment in reverse? Share in the comments below.