Directing Oklahoma
drama education, Uncategorized, youth theatre

Top Seven Reasons Drama Education is Important to Your Student, Part 2

This is a two part series.  Click here for part one: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/09/20/top-seven-reasons-drama-education-is-important-to-your-childs-life/comment-page-1/

Drama Class:

Teaches creative problem solving—In the best-selling book A Whole New Mind, Daniel Pink writes,”In short, we have progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we’re progressing yet again—to a society of creators and empathizers, or pattern recognizers and meaning makers.”directing-oklahoma

Oklahoma! First read thru–Presser Performing Arts Center  July 2009

When a group of students tackle any problem and solve it together using their imaginations to project an outcome and then produce it, they are incredibly valuable. I have the honor to work with some of my students for nearly six years.

They are very adept at creative problem solving. Recently, my co-teacher and I charged our musical theatre students with the task of creating of the wall, dying trees and flowers with their bodies in our production of the musical, Secret Garden.

Without discussing it very much, the students twisted and contorted themselves to make the atmosphere we intended.  We complimented them and they beamed with pride.

Through creative problem solving, we stretch the boundaries of what can’t be done to what can be. Voila!  Besides, creative problem solving makes one happy.

Lastly, drama is just plain fun!  Teachers know that humor helps students learn more efficiently.  We are joyful when we are relaxed.  When we are relaxed, we are more likely to learn. Through studying drama and performing, we laugh, poke fun at ourselves and develop a kind of camaraderie with one another that is rarely experienced anywhere else.

We create a strong bond that isn’t easily splintered.  Some of my best friends have come from working on a production together.  My play production experiences are the some of the greatest memories I have of my life.

Several years ago, a professional actor and director-friend of mine remarked that, “Theatre is history, psychology, sociology, anthropology, music, dance, art all wrapped into one.”  He’s right.   It makes us more human by “playing” at being a human. Where else can you find that?

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Check out part one here: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/09/20/top-seven-reasons-drama-education-is-important-to-your-childs-life/comment-page-

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

I’d love to hear from you!

 

I'm glad I'm an Indie Author
Book Agents, Indie Publishing, Uncategorized

The 10 Reasons I’m Glad I am an Indie Author

I’m listening to our grand daughter as she giggles with her grandpa. They are playing a rowdy game of  Peek-a-boo.   She’ll whimper a little like she’s unhappy and he’ll think of something else to do with her to make her happy.

That’s when I think of how glad I am to be an Indie author.

indie-book

I think if I had an agent and publisher, I might be spending time communicating with them and not enjoying our little bundle of energy.

Working for myself  as an indie author gives me some  great advantages:

I answer to myself. I don’t have to make phone calls and negotiate with anyone.  Negotiating is tiring, although usually good comes out of those kind of meetings.  I like to compromise.

I have no time constraints or deadlines. If I don’t want to work on the adaptation of Bumbling Bea into a play, I don’t have to do so.  Trust me, there are so many facets of indie publishing.  I can use my time wisely just about anywhere my cursor lands.  I accept the reality of this, however.  I know if I don’t finish a scene then I might not make my self imposed deadline, but that’s something for me to deal with.

I have no budget limits except those in my own pocketbook. I have to be careful with my budget now that I am retired.  Currently, I’m not directing any project or doing any extra teaching.  I think I’m in a transition period. It’s easy to overspend on advertising and marketing which is of course the crux of the work.

I set the price of both the paperback and ebook version. Because it’s mine, I can change the price any time I choose with the trust help of Amazon.  Usually, I can change the price in a matter of hours.

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 I receive a higher royalty for each copy than through traditional publishing. If you think I’m getting rich here you are sorely mistaken.  That wasn’t my goal, although the extra money is always welcome, you know?

I have complete creative control. I decide on everything pertaining to my book–its color, font style, size, synopsis, description, retailers, giveaways, etc.  This aspect reminds me of directing plays.  It was very fun to work with my illustrator, H. Russ Brown.  If I had gone the traditional publishing route, I wouldn’t have the team creativity we enjoy.

I have editorial control. Generally, this is a great asset.  It can be challenging some times because if I see an error (and I do see errors), I decide whether the error should be fixed and the book reprinted.  In turn, I can also do a second printing.  That’s why Bumbling Bea will received a new exterior in February.  I thought she needed some updating on both the outside and the story as well.  You ask what did I do?  You’ll have to read Bumbling Bea to find out!

I retain all the rights in a global market. If Bumbling Bea ever goes big and I mean IF, I reap the fruits of my labor, not someone elsewhere.

girl reading .jpg

Bumbling Bea is a book of a particular niche market. For readers who are interested in theatre and are young teens, Bumbling Bea is for you.   However,  we discovered readers of many ages and students of various grade levels enjoy the story, because it is relatable. I’ve received reviews from grandmothers, teenagers, college students, actors, singers, dancers and even athletes.  That’s quite a broad appeal.

I will admit, I have good days and not so good days.  I like working by myself but at times I crave conversation with a friend or two to help me work out whatever my writing challenge I’m having.  Whenever that occurs, I chat with my  Indie Writers Cooperative Facebook group to gain perspective again.  They are a wonderful resource to me as unbiased listeners and peers.  The group was created in the fall of 2016 and to date we have more than 500 members. I think that speaks volumes about the importance of having a place to sound off with a group that understands you.

“But Deborah, what if an agent contacts you and wants to represent your book.  What will you do?”  I’ve spoken with two agents in the past. One wanted me to completely revamp the story turning it into a YA one and the other was overworked. So, if someone calls, I’ll call them back that’s for sure!From there, we’ll see…

Independent publishing is here to stay. Please enjoy a read on my behalf.

book

Write me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

acting, arts education, drama education, excellence in teaching, Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies, Uncategorized, youth theatre

Who is Deborah Baldwin Interview Video

Middle grades drama class
drama education, excellence in teaching, middle grades, Uncategorized, youth theatre

How to Make Your Drama Class More Successful –Lessons Learned from 38 Years of Teaching-Middle School

This is a three part series.  This is part two of it.

Click here for part one and part three:

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/08/how-to-make-your-elementary-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-drama-part-one/

https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2016/12/12/how-to-make-your-drama-class-more-successful-lessons-learned-from-38-years-of-teaching-part-three/

presser-kidsTwo of these kids are in middle school and two are in high school.  Can you tell the difference?

Novice drama teachers ask me what is my secret to success in the classroom. How do I make my drama classes so successful? Heck, I don’t know really.  I’m intense, have high expectations of all my students, energetic and enthusiastic about the subject matter.

Secondary level students, especially middle grade kids are a whole different bird than elementary.  It isn’t only their maturity level that sets them apart.  Obviously, their physical stature comes into play.

Every body part is changing rapidly.  In ninth grade, our daughter went through a different size of jeans every three months–one time this size, the next time a smaller size, the third time back up a size and needing a longer length. Around and around we’d go.

And boys?  It’s a little easier to spot their changing than the girls.  I’ve known many a young man who was a scrawny seventh grader grow to become a muscled ninth grader.  Prior to the maturing, the poor boy appears frantic that he won’t grow.   Then, whoosh! He turns the bend, grows four inches and carries a look of relief while developing his personal swagger.  I don’t blame him.  I would, too!

It’s the emotional quotient which divides them from the younger students. Think about when you were in seventh grade.  Oh gosh.

I was all over the place-confused, weepy, , silly, snotty and arrogant.  Remember my mother was quite ill by the time I was ten years old and I hid any negative feelings I felt because I didn’t want to exacerbate her health issues with the stress of raising me.

So what do we do in theatre classes?  We plop these smelly, sweaty emotional bursts of energy on a stage and ask them to show their feelings.  Yikes!  As if identifying their own emotions wasn’t difficult enough, we expect them to demonstrate someone else’s.

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Here are a few pieces of advice when teaching middle grade students:

  1. Give every one an opportunity for success every day.  Generally, this can be achieved through a warm up exercise that has no apparent “winner”.

  2. Help those students who are the loner type.  Assign them to a group of students who are welcoming and kind.

  3. Do you know the “smile and nod” technique?  It is difficult for someone to say no to you, when you are smiling and nodding. Middle school students can be very disagreeable. Try to smile and nod with your request.

  4. Give plenty of time for homework assignments.  Students this age have a difficult time making priorities. Ample reminders and extra time that you have built in to the assignment (they don’t need to know this) should help.

  5. Be sincere with them.

  6. Be very organized and prepared for class.

  7. Be trustworthy.  They don’t like to be tricked and can tell when they are being manipulated.

  8. Play fairly.  If you say, “Everyone will have a speaking part in our play” you better come through on that promise.  They will hold you to it.

  9. Provide many hands-on learning experiences.  They need to get up and move around at this age.

  10. Establish class expectations right from day one which includes boundaries as middle school kids will test your limits.

  11. Teach respect through positive criticism.

  12. At the same time, be careful not to over praise them.  Over praising doesn’t help anyone to grow.  Research has found the opposite. Always have high expectations. They will raise to them if you first believe in them doing so.

  13. Use side coaching when directing or instructing.  Like a sport coach, the students will more readily accept your corrections of them if you phrase your correction in threes–a compliment, then the correction and end with another compliment.

  14. If you have a reluctant learner, note the smallest positive attribute you see.  By merely noting it, over time the student should open up to you and trust you.

  15. Fear and humiliation play huge roles at this age.  My advice: make a fool of yourself and laugh at yourself A LOT.  Teach your students how to do the same with themselves.

  16. Kids of this age are very sensitive about their clothing and hair.  Never comment first on either.  Let the student first mention it to you then you can say something.

  17.  At the beginning of each class allow a few minutes for sharing.  Some students always have something exciting they want to share with the class. It could be something as simple as a girl went shopping at the mall with her bestie. That means everything to her. Other students who don’t share might divulge something if you can ask the right questions of them.  Rather than, “How was your weekend?” try “Tell me about something exciting or unusual that occurred over your weekend?” Many students never have an adult listen to them.  You can be their listener.

  18. Be on your game. Students of this age are melodramatic, hyper focus on themselves and can change on you in a moment’s notice.

  19. You have a very lasting effect and influence on middle grade students.  Not only are they learning from you, they are observing you in the classroom and around the school.  They love with their whole heart, so take good care of it for them.

  20. In any situation whenever possible,  temper your true feelings and always think of the middle grade student first.

If you haven’t noticed all ready, I didn’t discuss the actual teaching of the classroom on this post.  Generally, everything I suggested with the elementary students will work with middle grade students.  But the biggest challenge will be their emotional growth at this moment in their lives.  If you can master how to ” ride the tidal wave” with them, you will most surely succeed.

bethany

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

I’d love to talk with you.

 

Uncategorized

Home Schooled Students–Myths and Realities. What a Surprise!

    Before I go any further, please understand that since this is MY blog, these are MY opinions based on MY experiences.  I am not an official spokes person for some home school association. So please read on if you enjoy and are enriched by another person’s perspective.

    I have come to the conclusion that home schooled students are some of the most misunderstood and misrepresented young people in the country.  Now that I have taught them for nearly four years, I think I have a fairly good perspective on their lives and their parents’ goals.  Simply put, home schooled students are some of the nicest, most respectful and  brightest students I have taught in my thirty-five years of teaching. 

Myth #1:   Home school students are socially awkward and not able to blend in with society. 

Reality:  Because home school students are taught by their parents, have private tutoring or lessons( like piano, dance or learning to play an instructmen) , learning in small peer groups or educated on-line, they are very comfortable with speaking to adults.  In fact, they may be more at ease chatting with an adult than talking with a peer.   That’s understandable, but learning to speak to your peers is a challenge for any young person.  I will give them some grace on this one.

Myth #2:  Home school students have a heck of a life. They can stay up late and sleep in while public school students are slaving away in a crowded classroom.  Their family can take a trip on a moment’s notice and use their traveling to some exotic place as an impetus for learning.   

Reality:  Yes, this is true. However, my students tell me that their parents have strict schedules for learning and summer isn’t a time for a three month vacation.  They are expected to learn in the summer and on many holidays, too.  Many of my students never miss a class with me.  Since one parent is home with the children, the family lives on the income of the other parent. That makes money tight. Several of my students never have a vacation or if they do, it is only to another family member’s home. 

Myth #3:  They can’t read and write because no one makes them.

Reality:  Actually, I have found that home school students are avid readers and have read books that I have never even opened, I am embarassed to say.  When I have asked them what their hobbies are, nearly every student shares that they love to read.  Writing is tough for any student.  If a student has limited time on a computer because they must share with other siblings, I am sure that the last thing they want to do is write an essay!  But isn’t that true of a lot of us?

and finally…

Myth #4:  Because there are holes in their education (their parents pick and choose what their children learn and teach accordingly), home schooled students won’t be well rounded individuals. 

Reality:  This is one I could argue for hours.  What is a “well rounded individual” anyway?  Someone that can speak on any subject (who can do that)? The life of a party? A person with a true understanding of life, society, history and the Arts?  Home school students are involved in many service organizations (like Scouts and church youth groups) and career exploration (through 4H, for example).  They are involved in their communities by volunteering at the public library or serving meals in a food bank.  Their interests and passions are endless.  I find them curious and focused. Plus, each state has curricular expectations and students can not graduate without fulfilling them.  

It takes a while for a student who has come from public school to understand and appreciate the strengths of home schooling.  I would imagine that the same thing can be said if this was reversed.  What I most enjoy about home schooled students is their focus upon their family.  In the schools in which I teach, it is not unusual for me to teach an entire family in one day.  I could have Susie Jones in Creative Dramatics, then her brother Max in Intro. to Shakespeare and her twin sisters in Musical Theater.  They take care and watch out for each other (Max will pick up Susie’s sweatshirt she left behind in class and see that she gets it).  I don’t see a lot of bickering amongst them.  I see a lot of smiles and hugs between siblings.  Everyone should have that. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?