creative dramatics, drama education, youth theatre

The Drama Exercise to Jazz Up Your Class and Impress Your Parents

Are you needing an exercise for your students and parents to participate together?  Here’s a new lesson plan for your drama classroom using tableau as the springboard.

I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Vacation-Tableau-3431865?aref=kayx2rtcVacation Tableau Ad (2)

Book Reviews, Book Talks, Bumbling Bea, drama education, Uncategorized

Exclusive Interview of My Main Character

http://www.tabislick.com/2017/09/bumblinginterview.html

Recently, my main character Beatrice Brace was interviewed on the Slick Writing Corner.  Thank you so much to Tabi and the Slick writing Corner.   Here is the interview:

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*Intro music begins to play as lights hit front stage*

Tabi: Welcome back! How’s everyone feeling tonight?

*Audience goes wild, clapping their hands and whistling enthusiastically*

Tabi: Awesome, well thank you all for joining us. Tonight we have a very special guest all the way from Chesapeake, Virginia put your hands together for Beatrice Brace!

*Beatrice enters the stage as the audience applaud*

*The two take a seat and the audience follows their lead*

Tabi: So, Beatrice, I hear you’re trying out for the lead role in your 8th grade school play. Could you tell us a little bit about the part you’ll be auditioning for?

Beatrice: I want to play the leading role of Pocahontas in our annual school play about Pocahontas and John Smith. Even though the script isn’t very factual and sort of dumb, I still want to play the lead role.

Tabi: And why is that?

Beatrice: This is my last time to audition for the school play. My Grandpa Percy passed away during the play rehearsal time when I was in sixth grade and in seventh grade I had to have my tonsils taken out and missed the show. So if I’m going to perform Pocahontas, this is my last time. Plus, if I get the leading part, I’m guaranteed to make friends with the popular kids before we move to high school next year. High school really scares me.

Tabi: High school can seem pretty scary, but once you’re there it usually gets less scary. You mentioned being guaranteed friends with the popular crowd, could you explain this a little bit?

Beatrice: Popular kids like other kids who are in the limelight.  Somehow they think that will rub off on them, so they stick close to them to survive. I think I’m stupid, pudgy and not very talented. If I am cast as Pocahontas at least for a Nano second, I’ll be popular with those kids. There are only three other eighth grade students auditioningmy two friends Jerri and Peter and this Japanese girl, Michiko. The three of us are shoe-ins. I don’t know about Michiko.

Tabi: Could you tell us a little bit about Michiko?

Beatrice: Ugh. Okay, if I have to… Michiko Tannabe is a girl who is visiting from Japan for the school year. She is the same age as I, but a complete opposite of me. She is petite, slender, delicate, very talented and super smart. She wears cat ears and dramatizes everything in her life.

Tabi: I guess auditioning for the school play makes sense then.

Beatrice: I think she’s kinda pushy and a know-it-all. My alter ego, Bumbling Bea, takes care of her for me. Well, I should say Bumbling Bea tries to take care of Michiko for me, but it backfires big time thanks to Peter’s failed sabotage attempt with poison ivy.

Tabi *Look of shock*: Poison ivy? Yikes! Unless you’re like me and are in the 15% who aren’t allergic. And what is or who is Bumbling Bea?

Beatrice: As I mentioned, she’s my alter egosarcastic, rude and a know it all. She says too much and needs to think before she speaks. Ha! If she did, she’d vanish. She shows up out of nowhere and takes over. Whenever I am awkward or unsure, Bumbling Bea blurts something to make me feel better about myself.

Tabi: I see. And what about your friends, what are Jerri and Peter like?

Beatrice: I think everyone should have a Jerri in their life. She’s the kind of friend who can speak honestly to me about myself.

Tabi: That’s a good kind of friends to have. And what about Peter?

Beatrice: I think everyone probably has a friend like Peter in their life, too. He’s kind of nerdy and awkward, but hysterically funny at the same time. Sometimes I just call him “P” to get his attention.

*Beatrice’s alter ego takes over*

Bumbling Bea: There’s a reason, but I’m not gonna share that, too. Jeez!

*Beatrice returns. Tabi glances with concern to the audience before returning her attention to Beatrice*

Tabi: Uh-uh… I see. And how did you meet these two?

Beatrice: We met in kindergarten and have been pals ever since. We live in the same neighborhood and together we ride our bikes to school every day.

Tabi: How nice! It’s good to have friends nearby. On a different note, let’s get to know you a little bit more. What’s your favorite song on the radio?

Beatrice: I like “Lights” by Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift’s “I’m only Me When I’m With You”?

Tabi: Really? What do you like about these songs?

Beatrice: When I first heard “Lights” I looked up the meaning of the song.  One opinion is that it is about depression and how she beats it.  Sometimes I’m depressed, but I always remember whatever is bothering me will pass in time.  I just like Taylor’s song because I can dance to it.  

Tabi: What about your favorite movie?

Beatrice: I like all the Stars Wars movies and Marvel Comics, especially Wonder Woman.  She’s awesome!

Tabi: I agree! Wonder Woman is my absolute favorite. Good choice! And do you play a sport?

*Bumbling Bea takes over, giving Tabi a look like she’s a crazy person*

Bumbling Bea: Heck no.

*The Audience laughs*

Tabi: Haha, okay moving on. So if you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Bumbling Bea: Anywhere but here.

*The audience watches as Beatrice returns*

Beatrice: I’d like to visit England and see Stonehenge and Stratford on Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Tabi: Ahh, now the auditioning for the play makes more sense. Do you dream of acting in one of Shakespeare’s plays?

Beatrice:  I doubt it.  His plays are in iambic pentameter, you know?  I’m afraid I’d forget the lines and mess up the rhythm of them while doing so.  

Tabi: Well, I wish you the best of luck in auditioning for Pocahontas. Now, you said Michiko is also auditioning for the part, correct?

Beatrice: Yes.

Tabi: What would you say is her best quality?

Beatrice: Michiko is fearless and driven. She doesn’t care if other students like her. She knows what she wants and goes for it.

Tabi: Those are great qualities. What do your friends think of Michiko?

Beatrice: Jerri becomes fast friends with Michiko. It takes Peter longer, because he’s more interested in making money to buy a scooter than anything else. At first, he doesn’t even notice her.

Tabi: and what do you think Michiko thinks of you?

Beatrice: I think Michiko doesn’t even notice me until she is forced to work with me on the play. She probably thinks I’m stupid and boring. Maybe she’s right, but I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of thinking so. I’ll show her!

*Michiko enters the stage unexpectedly*

Michiko: Oh, Beatrice. I brought you some of my mother’s almond cookies which you like so much.

*Awww sounds ensue from the crowd at the touching gesture*

Beatrice: Thank you, I guess.

Michiko: What are you doing?

Beatrice: I’m being interviewed about my Bumbling Bea story.

Michiko: Oh that story. I’m glad we’re past that, aren’t you? It was a crazy time for both of us.

*Michiko turns to Tabi*

Michiko: Tabi, has Beatrice shared how it ends?

Tabi: Why, no actually.

Beatrice: No, duh. And I’m not gonna. She’ll have to read it.

Michiko: Exactly! I agree with you, Beatrice. It wouldn’t be any fun to know the ending before you read the book. Then you’d have to call the book a different name.

*Beatrice looks confused by this*

Beatrice: What? I don’t get it, Michiko.

Michiko: Beatrice, you’d have to call the book a different name because the story would be backwards. You could give it a title like Fable of Bea Bumbling. That would be a good name for a play. I can see it now, a group of sound effects men are lined up on the stage with their gongs reads to announce your entrance. A narrator, me, promenades to the center of the stage and strikes a dramatic pose. A Kabuki pose would be best, I think.

Beatrice: Oh brother. Here we go again.

Tabi: Okay, well that’s all the time we have this evening. Don’t forget to go and grab your copy of Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin!

*Outro music begins*

Tabi: Next Friday we’ll be joined by a real, live private investigator who solves murders around Absentia and he’ll  be here to show us how it’s done. Come on, you know you don’t want to miss the exclusive interview with Felix the Fox!

Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/120288238627586

If you’d like more information about the Slick Writing Corner, check it out here:

*Intro music begins to play as lights hit front stage*

Tabi: Welcome back! How’s everyone feeling tonight?

*Audience goes wild, clapping their hands and whistling enthusiastically*

crowd cheering

Tabi: Awesome, well thank you all for joining us. Tonight we have a very special guest all the way from Chesapeake, Virginia put your hands together for Beatrice Brace!

*Beatrice enters the stage as the audience applaud*

*The two take a seat and the audience follows their lead*

Tabi: So, Beatrice, I hear you’re trying out for the lead role in your 8th grade school play. Could you tell us a little bit about the part you’ll be auditioning for?

Beatrice: I want to play the leading role of Pocahontas in our annual school play about Pocahontas and John Smith. Even though the script isn’t very factual and sort of dumb, I still want to play the lead role.

Tabi: And why is that?

Beatrice: This is my last time to audition for the school play. My Grandpa Percy passed away during the play rehearsal time when I was in sixth grade and in seventh grade I had to have my tonsils taken out and missed the show. So if I’m going to perform Pocahontas, this is my last time. Plus, if I get the leading part, I’m guaranteed to make friends with the popular kids before we move to high school next year. High school really scares me.

Tabi: High school can seem pretty scary, but once you’re there it usually gets less scary. You mentioned being guaranteed friends with the popular crowd, could you explain this a little bit?

Beatrice: Popular kids like other kids who are in the limelight.  Somehow they think that will rub off on them, so they stick close to them to survive. I think I’m stupid, pudgy and not very talented. If I am cast as Pocahontas at least for a Nano second, I’ll be popular with those kids. There are only three other eighth grade students auditioningmy two friends Jerri and Peter and this Japanese girl, Michiko. The three of us are shoe-ins. I don’t know about Michiko.

Tabi: Could you tell us a little bit about Michiko?

Beatrice: Ugh. Okay, if I have to… Michiko Tannabe is a girl who is visiting from Japan for the school year. She is the same age as I, but a complete opposite of me. She is petite, slender, delicate, very talented and super smart. She wears cat ears and dramatizes everything in her life.

Tabi: I guess auditioning for the school play makes sense then.

Beatrice: I think she’s kinda pushy and a know-it-all. My alter ego, Bumbling Bea, takes care of her for me. Well, I should say Bumbling Bea tries to take care of Michiko for me, but it backfires big time thanks to Peter’s failed sabotage attempt with poison ivy.

Tabi *Look of shock*: Poison ivy? Yikes! Unless you’re like me and are in the 15% who aren’t allergic. And what is or who is Bumbling Bea?

Beatrice: As I mentioned, she’s my alter egosarcastic, rude and a know it all. She says too much and needs to think before she speaks. Ha! If she did, she’d vanish. She shows up out of nowhere and takes over. Whenever I am awkward or unsure, Bumbling Bea blurts something to make me feel better about myself.

Tabi: I see. And what about your friends, what are Jerri and Peter like?

Beatrice: I think everyone should have a Jerri in their life. She’s the kind of friend who can speak honestly to me about myself.

Tabi: That’s a good kind of friend to have. And what about Peter?

Beatrice: I think everyone probably has a friend like Peter in their life, too. He’s kind of nerdy and awkward, but hysterically funny at the same time. Sometimes I just call him “P” to get his attention.

*Beatrice’s alter ego takes over*

Bumbling Bea: There’s a reason, but I’m not gonna share that, too. Jeez!

*Beatrice returns. Tabi glances with concern to the audience before returning her attention to Beatrice*

Tabi: Uh-uh… I see. And how did you meet these two?

Beatrice: We met in kindergarten and have been pals ever since. We live in the same neighborhood and together we ride our bikes to school every day.

Tabi: How nice! It’s good to have friends nearby. On a different note, let’s get to know you a little bit more. What’s your favorite song on the radio?

Beatrice: I like “Lights” by Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift’s “I’m only Me When I’m With You”?

Tabi: Really? What do you like about these songs?

Beatrice: When I first heard “Lights” I looked up the meaning of the song.  One opinion is that it is about depression and how she beats it.  Sometimes I’m depressed, but I always remember whatever is bothering me will pass in time.  I just like Taylor’s song because I can dance to it.  

Tabi: What about your favorite movie?

Beatrice: I like all the Stars Wars movies and Marvel Comics, especially Wonder Woman.  She’s awesome!

Tabi: I agree! Wonder Woman is my absolute favorite. Good choice! And do you play a sport?

*Bumbling Bea takes over, giving Tabi a look like she’s a crazy person*

Bumbling Bea: Heck no.

*The Audience laughs*

Tabi: Haha, okay moving on. So if you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Bumbling Bea: Anywhere but here.

*The audience watches as Beatrice returns*

Beatrice: I’d like to visit England and see Stonehenge and Stratford on Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Tabi: Ahh, now the auditioning for the play makes more sense. Do you dream of acting in one of Shakespeare’s plays?

Beatrice:  I doubt it.  His plays are in iambic pentameter, you know?  I’m afraid I’d forget the lines and mess up the rhythm of them while doing so.  

Tabi: Well, I wish you the best of luck in auditioning for Pocahontas. Now, you said Michiko is also auditioning for the part, correct?

Beatrice: Yes.

Tabi: What would you say is her best quality?

Beatrice: Michiko is fearless and driven. She doesn’t care if other students like her. She knows what she wants and goes for it.

Tabi: Those are great qualities. What do your friends think of Michiko?

Beatrice: Jerri becomes fast friends with Michiko. It takes Peter longer, because he’s more interested in making money to buy a scooter than anything else. At first, he doesn’t even notice her.

Tabi: and what do you think Michiko thinks of you?

Beatrice: I think Michiko doesn’t even notice me until she is forced to work with me on the play. She probably thinks I’m stupid and boring. Maybe she’s right, but I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of thinking so. I’ll show her!

*Michiko enters the stage unexpectedly*

Michiko: Oh, Beatrice. I brought you some of my mother’s almond cookies which you like so much.

*Awww sounds ensue from the crowd at the touching gesture*

Beatrice: Thank you, I guess.

Michiko: What are you doing?

Beatrice: I’m being interviewed about my Bumbling Bea story.

Michiko: Oh that story. I’m glad we’re past that, aren’t you? It was a crazy time for both of us.

*Michiko turns to Tabi*

Michiko: Tabi, has Beatrice shared how it ends?

Tabi: Why, no actually.

Beatrice: No, duh. And I’m not gonna. She’ll have to read it.

Michiko: Exactly! I agree with you, Beatrice. It wouldn’t be any fun to know the ending before you read the book. Then you’d have to call the book a different name.

*Beatrice looks confused by this*

Beatrice: What? I don’t get it, Michiko.

Michiko: Beatrice, you’d have to call the book a different name because the story would be backwards. You could give it a title like Fable of Bea Bumbling. That would be a good name for a play. I can see it now, a group of sound effects men are lined up on the stage with their gongs reads to announce your entrance. A narrator, me, promenades to the center of the stage and strikes a dramatic pose. A Kabuki pose would be best, I think.

Beatrice: Oh brother. Here we go again.

Tabi: Okay, well that’s all the time we have this evening. Don’t forget to go and grab your copy of Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin!

*Outro music begins*

Tabi: Next Friday we’ll be joined by a real, live private investigator who solves murders around Absentia and he’ll  be here to show us how it’s done. Come on, you know you don’t want to miss the exclusive interview with Felix the Fox!

Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/120288238627586

 

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

drama education, theatre, youth theatre

Like Halloween? Then You’ll Enjoy This

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/theater/shakespeare-theater-company-costume-sale.html?emc=edit_nn_20170926&nl=morning-briefing&nlid=78695717&te=1&_r=0

Tomorrow, it’s October! Yippee! 

October is one of my most favorite months–the leaves begin to change to scarlet and gold, pumpkins are everywhere, the air is crisp. 

When our daughters were children, we had a rule: you couldn’t talk about Halloween until September 1st. No drawing pictures of what your costume should be, negotiating for some extravagant costume piece, and NO buying Halloween candy. 

Recently,  I ran on to an article in the New York Times about the Royal Shakespeare Company’s costume sale. Wow, that would have been a neat thing to see. I was in England in August and visited Stratford in Avon where the sale was held. If only I had visited a bit later…

Read on. 

Ball Gowns, Lace Ruffs and Fairy Wings: Theater History for Sale

By Holly Williams

STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England — Have you ever wanted to step into the shoes of a great Shakespearean actor? Over the weekend, shoppers here in Shakespeare’s birthplace, which is also the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, had a chance to walk away with a piece of theatrical history, as the legendary company held a sale of 15,000 costumes and other items.

By the time the sale opened at 9 a.m. Saturday, a line snaked down the street; the first fans had arrived at 5 p.m. the previous day, camping out to secure a spot. Such patience was rewarded, and customers emerged clutching treasures, from the sublime — period ball gowns, lace ruffs, fairy wings — to the ridiculous — gold lamé lion tails and grotesque pig suits.
The Royal Shakespeare Company has the largest costume department in British theater, and it employs 30 members of staff, including experts in armor and millinery. The sale was raising money for the company’s Stitch in Time campaign, to renovate its costume workshop and to finance specialist apprenticeships. Around a third of its stock — items too worn or too specific to be reused — was on sale at bargain prices: from 50 pence, or 67 cents, for a fan to 30 pounds, or roughly $40, for a velvet cloak.

The life-span of Royal Shakespeare Company costumes, recycled across productions and for up to 100 performances, is among what makes them special, and every item has a sewn-in label identifying the actor who wore it last, and in which show. Beady-eyed rummagers could pick up Anita Dobson’s grubby underskirt from “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” or Joanna Vanderham’s silver gown from “Othello.” One happy shopper claimed to have found a dress worn by Jane Asher.

It can be bittersweet, however. “What makes this so emotional for someone like me — I put on my first R.S.C. costume in 1966 — are the name tags,” said the British actor Patrick Stewart, who fronted the Stitch in Time campaign. “I already found one item worn by a dear friend of mine, long gone.”

Indeed, among the armor, I came across a breastplate with “Tim Pigott-Smith” written on a label; the British actor died in April.

Even stars of Mr. Stewart’s caliber are not immune to feeling awe when taking on the mantle (at times literally) of acting giants. “I was once given a jacket which I did not really like,” Mr. Stewart said, adding that he had then seen from the label that it had been worn by Paul Scofield, a British actor who died in 2008.

“So of course I wore it,” he said. “Although it had to be cut down, because Paul was a much taller actor than I was, in every sense.”

Performers often highlight how vital costumes are, and by trying on a vast crinoline (used in the “Tempest”) and an absurdly heavy cloak (“Henry VIII”), I can understand why: They completely change the way you move and hold yourself.
“There were times when the costume had a significant impact on the work I would do on that character,” Mr. Stewart said, recalling the transformative effect of a luxurious pale gray three-piece suit worn for a modern-dress “Merchant of Venice” in 2011 — “which I should have stolen because it fitted me so well.”
I unearthed a kitsch, frothy wedding dress from the same production, worn by Susannah Fielding as Portia. Indeed, a whole rail of wedding dresses were available to make wedding days extra special — once they’ve had a good clean, at least.

Outside, members of the public emerged enchanted with their hauls. Jenkin Van Zyl, whose parents drove up from London so that he could fill their car, went on quite a spree: “I only wear theater costumes,” he said. “So I just came to top up, but I didn’t realize how cheap and amazing the sale was going to be. I spent £800.”
Shelley Bolderson from Cambridge, England, also wears costumes in her daily life. She said she had been delighted to find a coat made from pages of a book, created for the dancing satyrs in the 2009 production of “The Winter’s Tale.”

“I just hope it won’t dissolve in the rain,” she said.

The sale is also a godsend for amateur theater groups. Miriam Davies, from Stamford, England, is a costume designer for a company specializing in Shakespeare.
“You can’t really miss something like this,” she said. “Having R.S.C. costumes is a special thing — it’s history.”

drama education, Reading Literacy, youth theatre

Some “Hoppy” News For Peter Rabbit

http://variety.com/2017/film/news/peter-rabbit-movie-trailer-james-corden-1202565619/

Oh my, James Corden is the voice of Peter Rabbit in a new film! 

Read on…

Everyone’s favorite rambunctious rabbit finds new life as a party animal in the first trailer for the live-action/animated comedy “Peter Rabbit.”

The film stars James Corden as the the titular mischievous bunny whose feud with Mr. McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson) escalates as they rival for the affections of the animal lover who lives next door (Rose Byrne). The film also stars Sam Neill and features the voices of Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki, and Daisy Ridley as his triplets Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.

The trailer shows Peter and his furry friends raiding Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden and trashing his home in a wild party, then frantically dispersing when the farmer returns home unexpectedly. The critter exudes so much charm that even a fox who previously tried to eat him is a welcome party guest.

The movie is based on the character from Beatrix Potter’s children’s book series. Peter Rabbit first appeared in “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” in 1902 and the series has since sold more than 150 million copies worldwide in 35 languages.

The film is directed by Will Gluck who also wrote the screenplay with Rob Lieber. Gluck’s previous directing work includes “Easy A,” “Friends With Benefits,” and the 2014 remake of “Annie.” Lieber has previously written the screenplay for “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”

“Peter Rabbit” hits theaters on Feb. 9, 2018.
Staff Writer

Matt Fernandez

Staff Writer

@matt_fern

 

  

 

drama education, Education, Teaching, Uncategorized

Strategic Ways to Accelerate Learning: Growth Mindset through the Arts

https://www.edutopia.org/practice/embracing-failure-building-growth-mindset-through-arts

I just love the arts, don’t you?  Did you know they teach growth mind set?   In case you don’t know what growth mindset is:

People believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work-brains and talent are just the starting point.

Amen and amen.

Here’s an article from Edutopia.com about ways to accelerate learning and growth mindset through the arts.  It’s worth a read.

teaching apple
At New Mexico School for the Arts (NMSA) — a dual arts and academic curriculum — failure is taught as an important part of the journey toward success. Understanding that mistakes are indicators for areas of growth, freshmen learn to give and receive feedback. By senior year, students welcome tough, critical feedback — and even insist on it.

When Natesa, a senior at NMSA, arrived as a freshman, she had a hard time pushing herself in the areas that were difficult for her to master: choreography and getting into character.

“Now, I feel like I can channel my inner self and my inner fierceness when I need it, and even my inner beauty,” reflects Natesa. “I became more willing to take risks, and I think that taking risks is a big part of who you want to become, and who you’re choosing to be.”

Students audition to get into an NMSA program specific to their craft — dance, theater, music, or visual arts. Each day, they have their academic classes from 9AM to 2PM, and after lunch, they have their art classes until 4:45PM.

“Students have to take risks,” says Cristina Gonzalez, the former chair of NMSA’s visual arts department. “That’s something that is so unique to learning in the arts. Great art comes from risk taking, from being willing to fail. Maybe it will work. Maybe I’ll discover something about myself, something about my capacity that I wasn’t even aware of, and that’s so exciting for a student.”

If you want to help your students develop a growth mindset — the belief that they can improve their abilities through effort — helping them become more comfortable with risk-taking and modeling critical feedback through critique journals are two of NMSA’s strategies that you can adapt to your own practice.

teaching apple

Teach Your Students That It’s OK to Make Mistakes

Making mistakes, not knowing the answer — this is part of the artistic process. “You’re going to make bad paintings,” says Gonzalez. “You’re going to make bad photographs. You’re going to fumble your way through it, and in fact, that’s how you learn. You need to make those mistakes.”

The idea that you learn from your mistakes is embedded into their entire arts curriculum. Teacher, expert, and peer critiques are innate to the arts process. Immediate feedback is part of the norm. You might pause your piano student in mid-rehearsal to say, “When you get here, make sure you get a really clean pedal on the B flat, but that was great. That’s the kind of energy you want.”

In dance class, you might tell your students how they need to rotate their legs differently when taking their demi-plié in first position.

When ninth-grade theater students rehearse their Working in Silence scenes, they perform in front of their peers and faculty, receive feedback from their teachers, and then re-perform the scene to immediately incorporate their feedback.

“Getting to do the scenes a couple different times really helps because then we get to take the feedback and we get to apply it, and that is the whole learning process,” says Kara, a ninth-grade theater student. “If you fail, then you can do it again, and you could make big leaps and bounds and learn from that.”

You can connect risk taking — and helping your students build comfort around it — to their interests outside of school. Gonzalez has students in her class who enjoy skateboarding. She draws connections to risk taking by referencing their experience with trying a new trick. “

A skateboarder knows what it feels like to try a new trick, how scary it is that they actually might fall,” she says. “They could get hurt, and all their buddies are watching. We ask them to do that every day in the art studio.”

With any art form, students can fall into a pattern of doing what they’re comfortable with or what they’re good at doing without risking something new because they don’t want to make a mistake. “It’s our job as teachers to go, ‘Do that new new trick. Go to the precipice,'” explains Gonzalez.

By encouraging your students, you’re helping them to explore their craft and expand their ability — whether they execute a new technique right out of the gate or over time with feedback and practice. Either way, they see that taking risks pays off.

teaching apple
“Failure isn’t the end of the road,” explains Cindy Montoya, NMSA’s principal. “You learn from failure. It gives you more information on how to do something better. It’s fodder for success. It’s a cycle of either learning about yourself, the content, or your art form.”

Teach Your Students to Appreciate Feedback

Once your students go through the process of applying constructive feedback to improve their work — and once they create something beautiful as a result — they’ll see its value. They’ll learn to appreciate and even want feedback. “Being able to accept critique and not feel hurt by it is an important skill for us to learn,” says Serena, a 10th-grade student. “We’re taking those critiques and learning how to put them to use.”

Creating something, receiving feedback, and revising their work is a natural part of the artistic process that your students can apply toward their academic classes. “The strengths and skills that these artists come to us with are hard work and a willingness to keep trying,” says Geron Spray, an English and history teacher. “They have perseverance, they take constructive criticism well, and they build on it.”

It’s not uncommon to hear students say, “I’m not good at math,” or “I’m bad at writing essays.” An arts education helps students to see that they can improve at their craft with effort. They can become better at math.

They can become better at writing essays. “They start to see that connection between struggling through the practice, getting feedback, going in for help, and the outcome,” says Eric Crites, NMSA’s assistant principal.

“It’s just so great to watch a student go through that process of struggle, have a teacher believe in them, and then at the end, they have a result that they can be proud of,” adds Gonzalez.

Give your students journals to write down the feedback they receive from you. It’s a way for them to store immediate feedback from each day to review and apply later, and it also allows you to model giving constructive criticism. When providing feedback to your students, share both their successes and areas for improvement, and be specific.

“Feedback is fundamental to growing oneself as an artist,” says Adam McKinney, the chair of NMSA’s dance department. “I try to model what it means to provide critical feedback to my dancers.” One way that the dance department models critical feedback is through dance journals.

teaching apple
Throughout class, students write their teacher’s feedback in their dance journal. For example, says McKinney, a student might write, “‘When I’m taking my demi-plié in first position, rotate from the top of my legs so that my knees are going over my first and second toes.’

For me, that next level of cognition — to understand the feedback, realize the importance of the feedback, and then to incorporate that into their bodies — is essential as young artists.”

By giving constructive criticism to their peers, your students will learn to better appreciate receiving feedback and they’ll improve their skills to self-assess their own work. “Having young artists provide critical feedback to each other provides a deeper understanding and another layer of what it means to get better as an artist,” says McKinney. “That critical feedback is essential to improving one’s art.”

NMSA develops students’ abilities to assess their own and others’ work through showing them examples of mastery, equipping them with technical vocabulary, and providing them with opportunities to practice peer critique through fishbowl discussions, Visual Thinking Strategies, and Post-it note critiques (See Mastering Self-Assessment: Independent Learning Through the Arts).

“Our students have learned that they can receive feedback — even negative feedback,” says Crites, “make a correction, and then come up with something amazing.”

teaching apple
“We develop this idea of self-reflection very early in the department,” adds McKinney. “Why are you a dancer? Why is that important to the world? I know that the power of art saves lives. I have several young people in the department — and who have graduated — who communicate that art has saved their lives, and it certainly saved my own.”

The arts saved my life, theatre specifically.  For a post describing how it did so, go to:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/01/17/how-theatre-saved-m%ef%bb%bfy-life/comment-page-1/

drama education, excellence in teaching, Readingrocket.org, Uncategorized

The Majority of Drama Teachers do this and You Should Too!

studenst-reading-play

Music Rehearsal for Willy Wonka, Jr. Apex Home School Enrichment Program  2014

Note:  Recently, I wrote several pieces concerning reading and literacy for Litpick.com.  This is a re-publish of the latest article. 

I’m not a Wizard, but I can do Magic and so Can You!

Teaching has its up and downs, but one of the most rewarding experiences of teaching is seeing a student’s eyes light up once some learning connects with them. I like to teach “magically” if I can. I bet a lot of teachers do, too!

I don’t wear a wizard’s robe and pull out a magic wand —I have no idea how that is done. I mean when a student learns something when they don’t think they are doing anything, but having fun. Teaching and learning become effortless and almost enchanting!

I use many drama games and exercises in my classroom. I’m especially fond of Viola Spolin’s book Improvisation in the Classroom. But that’s not today’s subject…. (my right brained-ness kicked in there for a moment). Sorry.

I find that when I am teaching a concept that a student is focused upon and I am using a particular activity to demonstrate the concept, the learning becomes “like butter”—smooth, enriching and tasty. (Okay, I do have a fondness for butter I will admit, but you get the point.)

Drama Class and Reading

Reading skills can be strengthened through drama. No joke! Sometimes students don’t realize when they enroll in my classes that we will read aloud in class—that’s a given. And we read A LOT. Of course we read the occasional theatre textbook chapter, but mostly we read plays. I mean, obviously we read plays, right? Also, we perform the readings, so the words become memorized easily.

Families can do this at home, too! The benefits of reading plays aloud are varied, but suffice to say that if a group gets together and reads a play, a child’s reading skills will be honed.

Dialogue

Oh my gosh, play dialogue is so fun to read aloud! It’s far better to read a play aloud than to read it silently. That’s because it was created to be spoken. A playwright depends upon his characters’ dialogue to tell a story. That’s the whole point. Playwrights work for months, maybe years, to find and create just the right meaning in a sentence.

Presently, I am preparing to direct a summer youth theatre camp production of Tams Witmark’s Music Library version of The Wizard of Oz musical. Here is a tidbit of dialogue from the production:

img_0385

WICKED WITCH:

They’re gone! The ruby slippers! What have you done with them?

Give them back to me, or I’ll—

GLINDA:

It’s too late! There they are, and there they’ll stay!

Awesome, don’t you think? The dialogue is precise, rhythmical and exciting. A playwright’s goal is to express a particular message, right? She wants the audience to continue listening to her play. Her dialogue must be excellent. There can be no excess words, very few challenging words or word pronunciations that an audience member must struggle to understand.   Since theatre is live, it is essential that the play is engaging right from the first word. When one is not enjoying a book that she is reading, she can put the book down. But at a play? The confused person might just walk out of the performance. Eeek!

Form

Young readers love to read scripts aloud once they understand the form. It’s a little daunting, you must admit. There are no markers—no “he said” or “she yelled” In particular moments, emotions are written in for the actor to use. Generally, a playwright leaves it up to the director and actors to convey the required emotion. That’s more interesting for everyone involved. It allows the director to create her own concept of the play—sort of like painting a picture using her own thoughts about the story. That’s more interesting for everyone involved.

IMG_0290

Usually, I read aloud the stage directions so that the students can create the atmosphere or plot in their minds. The plot of a play must be very clear to understand although surprises are always welcome. That’s what makes for excellent theatre, I think.

Once when my class of middle school students read aloud the “Tom Sawyer” play, I purposely stopped us at an exciting moment—scary Injun Joe hid behind a tree and overheard Tom and Huck discussing the big bag of money they found. Many of the students were reluctant readers. I heard groans of “Oh man, Mrs. B. can’t we continue reading?” But instead, I handed out paper and pencils and asked them to draw what they thought would occur next. I’m a tricky teacher….

Research

In researching this article, I came upon a tremendous website–Readingrockets.org. who says it much better than I can.

  1. Listening to others read develops an appreciation for how a story is written and familiarity with book conventions, such as “once upon a time” and “happily ever after”.

  2. Reading aloud demonstrates the relationship between the printed word and meaning – children understand that print tells a story or conveys information – and invites the listener into a conversation with the author.

  3. Listening to others read develops key understanding and skills. Reading aloud demonstrates the relationship between the printed word and meaning – children understand that print tells a story or conveys information – and invites the listener into a conversation with the author (Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000).

  4. Reading aloud makes complex ideas more accessible and exposes children to vocabulary and language patterns that are not part of everyday speech. It exposes less able readers to the same rich and engaging books that fluent readers read on their own, and entices them to become better readers. (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).

Libraries

How does a family select the right play to read together? I’d suggest checking out a public library. They have a fountain of plays to read including many versions of classics such as Anne of Green Gables, Peter Pan, Charlotte’s Web or Huckleberry Finn. If reading an entire play script seems overwhelming, look into reader’s theatre scripts. They are short, concise, edited well and give the “nugget” of the story. They are a great stepping off point for young readers to pique their interest, giving them a feeling of success before they tackle the complete novel.

Reading Experts

Children’s literature consultant Susie Freeman states, “If you’re searching for a way to get your children reading aloud with comprehension, expression, fluency, and joy, reader’s theater is a miracle. Hand out a photocopied play script, assign a part to each child, and have them simply read the script aloud and act it out. That’s it. And then magic happens.”

Aaron Shephard

One of my favorite authors of reader’s theatre scripts is Aaron Shephard. Check him out at http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/. He has adapted a treasure trove of stories, many multicultural, including original ones of his own. I have used a host of his scripts including Legend of Lightning Larry with an ESL drama club, The Legend of Slappy Hooper with a creative dramatics class, and the beloved Casey at the Bat with an introduction to theatre class plus various other scripts.

So, the next time on a really hot summer day your family is stuck indoors and has exhausted every other avenue of entertainment or learning, pick up a play script! I promise you a magical and great time of reading.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

To purchase a copy of my book, Bumbling Bea go to Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Bumbling-Bea-Deborah-Baldwin/dp/1500390356

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deborah is a newly retired drama teacher through the Apex Home Enrichment Program in the St. Vrain Valley School District.  She has taught all subjects of drama and directed over 250 youth theatre plays for nearly thirty-eight years.  This summer, she’ll direct Aladdin, Kids and The Wizard of Oz. She and her husband recently moved to Kansas to be near their family.   Her award winning middle grade book, Bumbling Bea can be purchased through Amazon.com.  Check out her blog at:  Dramamommaspeaks.wordpress.com or her website at: BumblingBea.com

 

Willy Wonka Jr
drama education, litpick, reading skills, Uncategorized

Top Seven Reasons Drama Education is Important to Your Child’s Life, Part 1

This is a re-publish of an article I wrote for Litpick.com.  I hope it’s useful to you.

03ep-stndaln-wonka-fun-xl1Willy Wonka, Jr.  Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies August 2012

When the Litpick staff and I discussed writing several articles concerning drama education, I was stymied.  I have been a drama teacher and director since 1979.

Personally, theatre and the creativity that stems from it is very second nature to me. I forget that other people may not be aware of its strengths in the same manner.

Today’s the day for bolstering creativity in your child!

In a typical school day I taught theatre classes to approximately 100 students, ages eight to eighteen.  Whew!  This included classes in creative dramatics, introduction to musical theatre, film making, technical theatre and a production based musical theatre class. Most of what I taught, I created myself for the students.

Since I worked for an enrichment program for home school students, I taught a different group of students each day.  Double whew! In another words, creating curriculum plus teaching plus directing productions for nearly forty years equals expert first-hand knowledge.  Oh, I forgot that!

 Your Creative Child

At the beginning of the school year, it was not uncommon for parents to stop me in the hallway and express delight that their child will be taking a drama class with me.  Many parents say, “My daughter is very imaginative and expressive.  She plays dress up all day if I let her, but other than dress up, I don’t know what to do with her imagination next.”

I think I know what the parent is trying to express to me.  They need some assurance that A. this is a normal part of the child’s development; B. it should not be squelched but promoted and C. there are many strengths to being a creative human being.  I smile and encourage the parent to allow the child to continue imagining. I take it from there and the magic begins.

I will admit I am very partial to theatre arts.  Honestly, theatre saved my life when I was about ten years old, but that’s another story for some other time.  All arts classes will nurture your child’s creativity and every art form brings different gifts to the table.  Here are my top seven reasons for drama classes in your child’s life.img_0463

 

Stage Make up Assignment in Technical Theatre Class  May 2016

Drama Classes:

Strengthen literacy—We know that through reading, our reading becomes more fluid and comprehensive. Not everyone recognizes that in a drama class we READ a lot–plays, scenes, poems and stories to dramatize.  Of course, when we rehearse a piece we read the words over and over again—aha! Then we MEMORIZE them.

We practice a character’s lines using vocal inflection and variety.  Suddenly, the words come to life for the reader. Voila! We sneak in reading skills without any of us being aware of it.  It is that easy, but reading must be continued in order to have consistent success.

Build self-esteem and self-confidence—If a child has an opportunity to share his ideas through drama, he is immediately accepted. We applaud for the student and his attempt.  We encourage positive comments towards the student’s effort.  Over time, the child begins to see his worth within the classroom, within the school and consequently in the world as well. Self-actualization is realized. It is a known fact that many at-risk students attend school only because they can take an arts class.  That’s pretty powerful.

Build a team spirit—I compare a cast in a play to a football team. The only difference is that no one sits on the bench—everyone plays.  Everyone’s actions count to make the goal, the performance.  If a student knows that he is expected to help other members of the cast and crew, he takes on the responsibility.

This level of responsibility carries over into social situations, because by becoming a part of a team, a student can see himself as part of the whole instead of merely one piece. A P.E. teacher once remarked to me that she could tell which of my drama students took her classes.  When playing games, they were the ones who quickly pulled a group together, used their individual strengths and left out no one. How nice!

Aristocrats kids

Encourage tolerance—Through a scene or play, when one experiences first-hand what is like to be the down trodden character, the misunderstood, the shunned, the innocent accused, one’s framework of understanding broadens.

For example, when we dramatize the story of Anne Frank or Helen Keller, we begin to see life differently and the value of everyone.  Life’s issues become greyer in color to us and thereby we appreciate the many perspectives in a particular situation. This is a remarkable attribute.

Provide a safe place to express one’s emotions—Society’s pressures have encouraged us to keep our emotions to ourselves, especially negative ones. I was one of those people.  In turn, some people are the opposite and show only negative emotions because they feel less vulnerable in so doing.

By creating a character and expressing the character’s emotions—happiness, sadness, fear, pride, curiosity, anger, joy, jealousy, etc. these feelings become an accepted part of one’s psyche. One’s acceptance of all one’s emotions, strengths and weaknesses is vital to our growth, no matter the age.

Lastly, there will come a day when your child will thank you for introducing theatre arts to them.  I have never known a student who didn’t flourish from taking a drama class or participating in a production.  There is something very special about the stage and I hope you’ll give it an opportunity to show you.

Contact me at dhcbalwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

drama education, Teaching, Uncategorized

Energize Your Classroom with Laughter

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/laughter-learning-teens-tough-crowd-matt-bellace

I was perusing various articles on the web and ran on to this one.

Oh my gosh!  This is me all over.  I use humor everyday to reach and engage my students.  If everyone is laughing, they are relaxed and receptive to the material I am teaching.  Plus, it’s so doggone fun!

Read on….

Laughter, Learning, and Why Teens Are Such a Tough Crowd

Laughter, risk, and novelty stimulate the teenage brain. Make these elements work for you by incorporating the strategies and rhythms of stand-up comedy into your teaching.

The teen brain is like a novelty-seeking missile, disengaged one moment, but capable of intense focus and attention when a task becomes rewarding. I believe it was the late Rodney Dangerfield who said, “The audience is like a dog and jokes are like biscuits.” In over 20 years of speaking and performing stand-up comedy for students, I’ve learned that using humor, interactive demonstrations, and even awkward moments are the biscuits that help students sit up and want more.

In the limbic system of the brain, the most important structure for memory (hippocampus) is located near and connected to a structure that helps produce emotions (amygdala). This anatomical relationship ensures that emotionally charged experiences will be remembered better than neutral events. This is the neurological basis for bringing more emotions (hopefully positive ones) to the classroom. In today’s world of decreased attention spans and distracting smartphones, students need all the help they can get to increase retention of the important information you’re teaching them.

smiles

Engaging Teens With Humor

Here are some strategies for bringing humor, novelty, and engagement to classroom activities.

1. A Laugh A Day: You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to bring one more laugh per day to your classroom. The key is starting with something that you think is funny, but that’s still relevant to the lesson. It could be a quick one-line joke, a bad pun, a funny video from YouTube, or a short story. If it bombs, poke fun at yourself for the attempt and try something else the next time. The best part is that it will spur your brain to look for humor in everyday life, and you’ll start feeling more creative.

2. Use Improv to Spin Classroom Disruptions: Have you ever been in the middle of making an important point and then there’s a loud noise and you’ve lost half the class? It’s frustrating. Well, you can’t stop the disruptions, but you can use improvisational comedy skills to get a laugh out of them. I love it when some weird noise or bell goes off during my program because it’s a real moment that we’ve all just experienced. Comedy comes from relatable events. The next time this happens, try working a comment about the noise into your point and see if you get a laugh. Express your pain over the interruption, and the audience will relate. Over time, you’ll train your mind (and the kids’ minds) to be more in the moment, and the endorphins produced by a good laugh will make getting back on track feel less like work.

3. Bring Students Up: Laurence Steinberg, a professor of psychology at Temple University, showed in a series of studies that teenagers take more risks when they’re in the presence of their peers. When their brains were imaged during the risk-taking activities, they showed an increase in blood flow in the pleasure center, a collection of neurons that activates during rewarding activities. In his book Age of Opportunity, Steinberg writes that teens take risks because that’s how they learn.

You have a unique opportunity in the classroom. If you use interactive demonstrations that allow students to briefly take over the class, you can leverage this built-in risk-taking mechanism designed to foster learning. These interactives don’t have to be funny, but by nature they will create awkward moments, which can be hilarious.

In my assemblies, the goal is to never embarrass the students who volunteer, but rather to amplify what they’re saying or doing. That technique of reflective listening, with some embellishment, can produce laughter. In many cases, I’ll run into students years after they’ve seen my program. They’ve long forgotten my name and face, but once I describe the interactive part of my presentation to them, suddenly it all comes back. It really makes my day when they immediately recite the point I was trying to make. That is emotional learning at work!

smiles

4. Take a Comedy Workshop: I love watching and performing stand-up comedy, but using it in front of teenagers is the highest level of difficulty for getting laughs. If they sense that a joke is coming, you’re finished. In addition, their age limits their life experience, so not even the best mortgage joke will work on them. In my experience, teenagers respond well to brief anecdotes with jokes that they don’t see coming embedded in the story. It also helps when the story is about things they can relate to, like attachment issues (e.g. parents, sibling rivalries) or pop culture. If you’re interested, I highly recommend taking a comedy workshop (improv or stand-up) at a local comedy club. There are even courses online, but nothing beats performing for actual humans. Interacting with an audience will build your confidence for delivering a joke, and it can be a healthy outlet for you.

It’s Worth the Risk

If you choose to bring comedy into your classroom, you risk being vulnerable in front of your class. I believe it’s a risk worth taking, because the payoff will last long after the laughs are gone. Break a leg!

Matt Bellace, PhD

Speaker, Psychologist and Comedian

Education

Teachers: How to Jump Start Your School Year

The school year is about to begin. Yikes! 

 I remember that feeling.

 Nerves, anxiety, excitement, worry, hope. 

As a drama teacher, it was not unusual for me to spice up the beginning of the year to assure my classes got off to a good start. 

Radio Theatre in the Classroom was one of my favorite units to teach. 

After thirty-eight years, I have it perfected and available to you to purchase. It is suitable for grades six through ninth. 

Over thirty pages of lessons, exercises, projects, warm ups, history and a FREE full length radio play suitable for your classroom or group. Check it out at https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Radio-Theatre-in-the-Classroom-Tune-In-and-Turn-On-3319922

$8.00 

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Radio-Theatre-in-the-Classroom-Tune-In-and-Turn-On-3319922

arts education, drama education, Uncategorized, youth theatre

Kamishibai Storytelling Unit– Engaging and Unique for Your Students

 

Are you looking for an oral communication unit for your students? Check out my Kamishibai Storytelling unit on teacherspayteachers.com

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Kamishibai-Storytelling-The-Paper-Drama-326037