Log Book, Week 12
Our warm up activities were carried about by me and Kyla and I think we did a really good job because we were well prepared (although I was so nervous!) and we worked really well together as a team.
Our group began by patting our thighs twice and then clapping twice. This was a simple introduction to demonstrate the desired speed I wanted to establish and to make the point that in a group setting it is very easy to speed up but we need to keep with our group, even if they are slower than we would like. I did not want the group to speed up, I wanted to maintain a steady and controlled rhythm. To help try to maintain a slow and steady rhythm we had each person say two words (colours) however this did not seem effective. Next time I would have them actually say the word “SLOWLY” during this exercise to reinforce that this is not an exercise of speed it was an exercise of group rhythm that was intentionally conducted at a very slow pace. This was the building block to the next activity.
The next activity was really fun. Our group maintained the patting on our thighs but instead of clapping our own hands together, we turned to our right and clapped hands with the second person down from you while the person in between ducked low to allow space for the partners to clap. This was a lot of coordinating but was an enjoyable experience. With our time constraints we played with this for about 6 minutes but in a situation where more time was available, I thought it would be fun to introduce two rhythm sticks per person to be used to “clap” with their partner. This would create an interesting sound as well as an increased level of difficulty. To really scaffold this activity up, the speed can be increased and increased. To scaffold down, reduce the speed. If doing this activity with very young learners, I would have the learners slap their thighs twice but then turn to their partner on their immediate right to clap hands with instead of using the partner two down, requiring the middle person to duck. This activity seemed to go well because there was a lot of laughter!
Our last activity, “Pass the Beat Around the Room”, each person was required to say a syllable in the order of the title and include a rest, which equalled eight syllables. This established the rhythm. Whomever had the eighth syllable, the rest, was required to tap their shoulders. It was surprising to me how easy it was to forget the rest along with its gesture. After a few attempts at this we tried the rhythm without using the words and this proved to be difficult. I did not know if it would work or not but I wanted to try it! Seeing the struggle with this, Kyla and I decided to add two words (the first syllable and third) back in while still including the tapping of the shoulders if you received the rest. This proved to be all we could do in our remaining seven minutes. I would like to try this activity again by increasing the rhythm and incorporating more gestures instead of the words, such as stamp on the word beat. Older learners could certainly achieve this with ongoing practice. For younger learners I would keep the rhythm slow and to maintain this I would loudly clap the rhythm for them. This would mean I would not be included in the circle of activity; I would walk around outside the circle. This would give me a closer viewpoint of the leaner and where she or he is particularly struggling and I could offer assistance. Kyla and I intentionally decided to not make anyone “out” if they made a mistake, we simply started over where the mistake occurred. I wanted all group members to feel safe and included even after a mistake.
This was one of my favourite classes all semester. We went to the McKenzie Art Gallery and their education director, Nicole, spent 2.5 hours with us teaching us. She talked about how museums and galleries can assist classroom teachers and she discussed where arts education teachers can seek employment. She covered assessment, which I found fascinating, and she gave many example from her 17 years of experience.
I enjoyed her positive view regarding arts teachers getting employment. This is probably on the top of many students minds while they are going to school: “Will I get a job when this is done?” I am sensitive to this because I am more than double most of my peers age. I am not sure I will work in a classroom and I am not sure I want to. Nicole was very encouraging pointing out that there are many employers that are seeking educators in their organizations. Plus they are not all government agencies, which appeals to me.
Her comments and examples of assessment were so interesting to me because how does someone assess art? In visual art this past week we had also been discussing this concept with Valerie Triggs. Nicole pointed out that when assessing art we need to take note of the students ability to ask questions, their effort level, their intent, what their thought process looked like, and how well they can share. Not once did she comment on the visual appearance of the art nor the technique used, although not to dismiss technique completely. I love this because I feel so “ordinary” at most things in life yet I CAN do all the things Nicole mentioned. I LOVED her comments that some, but few, are born with natural ability and are therefore supported their whole way through. But the rest of us, and that is probably the majority of us, we can learn, practice and apply these principles and find success. I had been misguided thinking I had no “natural ability”. This is promising to me and it makes me excited!
Sara commented that assessments can include documenting in dozens of creative ways now because we have so much technology available to us. She encouraged us and our future students to use videos, sketch books, audio journals, photographs, portfolios, keep everything (do not throw out the “rough copy”), and do not use erasers, etc. as alternative forms of assessment. This is also a point to observe progress.
Nicole said we need to create an environment where failure is ok- this makes you an awesome teacher. We are so afraid of failure in our culture. Yet failure is how we learn, develop and grow. I am not going to pretend that because of the fear of failure that assessment will be easy.
Lynn Fels and George Belliveau give several ideas we can use to assess. They are: 1. Writing in role, 2. Debriefing Circles, 3. Written Reflections, 4. Exit Slips, 5. Student Journals, 6. Portfolios, 7. Self-Assessment & Peer Assessment, 8. Criterion-Based Rubrics, 9. Curriculum Content-Based Evaluation, 10. Teacher-Student Conferences & Conversations, 11. Observation Sheets, 12. Checklist, and 13. Planning & Goal Setting. Fels & Belliveau state that “Evaluation is not a matter of finding a way to mark a student but of creating conversations with your student, encouraging new learning and relationship building…” (p. 223).
These forms of assessment are exciting to me and I wonder how I might be different now had these assessments been used with my learning three decades ago. Our youth now are very fortunate to be growing and learning in what seems to be a new age, taught by my generation that realized those ways were not the most beneficial to the learner, although probably easiest for the teacher.
Log Book, Week 11
Class this week started with our routine ball throw. I like following in the same pattern we begin with. Before we had 3 balls going, we were to comment on one thing we learned this week. I commented on our article’s assigned reading: creating a common place that students can bounce off from in order to enhance their learning. The author’s work had been with ESL students coming to Canada from Spanish speaking countries. These students were struggling to learn & understand English. Their common place came to be the border & they could each identify with this having just recently passed through a border(s).
Warm ups today revolved around the theme of sound. Facilitator number one put peaceful nature music on then invited us to make sounds (body percussion or vocal) to embody the music, a sound scape. As time progressed we were asked to increase/ decrease our sound/ volume. The group sound produced was very calming. It was helpful that we had our eyes closed because there was no judgement from our peers- I felt free to express my sound/ vocal humming to tie into the music.
Facilitator number two had us stand in a circle and make some type of noise/ sound. The person to our right then repeated our sound and made a sound of their own.
Facilitator number three had us once again stand in a circle. He made a soft vocal sound and the person to his right was then required to “outdo” this sound therefore the volume and intensity continued to increase all the way around the circle. He then reversed the sound, starting with a loud and slightly obnoxious sound and by the end of the circle the sound was to be quiet and calm.
As I reflect back to my reading this week from the article Identity and Imagination of Immigrant Children: Creating Common Place Location in Literary Interpretation written by Carmen L. Medina, I am reminded that there are multiple interpretations of truth. I can read something and interpret it to mean X while someone else can read the same text and interpret Y. I suppose this complicates things yet is also very beautiful because it allows for multiple understandings. This allows “readers to self-identify with characters and plot” (p. 54) rather than worrying about finding truths in the text.
Medina speaks of common place meaning the text needs to have meaning between self and the text and she gives three ways this can be achieved. #1: Exploring text and identity through talking using questions, connections, and ideas that come from reading because they become “springboards” to discussions. #2: Explore text through visual sketches. The author used paper cut sketches to create a common place in order to analyze text and experiences. Medina states “Creating a common place location between text, personal past, and collective present in the classroom” (p. 60) can be achieved using visual representation. #3: Drama Structures such as process drama allow students to “move outside the text’s boundaries to imagine the characters’ lives in the future” (p. 61). This also worked as a common place where students could bring “personal beliefs, feelings, and cultural knowledge to the forefront” and gave space to “explore tensions” (p. 61) in classrooms.
Medina also spoke of the importance and value of having students write in role using character diaries. This is a powerful tool because it is a safe way to explore students feelings and they will be honest. Characters are used to express feelings with varied perspectives and mixed feelings.
Medina encourages the use of tableaux’s because they come to represent support students may need from one another in the classroom. Medina was specifically referring to the group of immigrant non-English speaking students but I believe her work can be adapted to work with many types of students. Students may not know exactly what they need nor how to access the help they need but through collaborative team work using tableaux’s, these feelings can be explored and expressed.
Log Book, Week 10
This week our hacky sack circle was extremely small, about half the students were missing. This made our circle more intimate than we’ve experienced before. Sara had us use a light weighted baseball cap and a lightweight sponge to toss around our circle to explore how differences in weight affect our concentration. We were unusually quiet at this time. When we discussed this we figured it was mostly because we were missing half our peers which were not in class. Sara pointed out that in our classrooms, early morning classes, attendance can be sporadic so she encouraged us to consider what types of activities we would do with class members absent. She followed true to her word by not discussing our process dramas from the prior class because too many students were absent.
Warm activities were based around the theme of memory. The first activity we called “Flamingo”. The facilitator would call out a word and a number which indicated how many people we needed to group ourselves into and what type of shape we needed to create. For example he would say laptop, 4. We would quickly separate ourselves into groups of 4 and tableau a laptop. The facilitator would do several of these fairly rapidly, each different, but with “walk time” in between. The memory challenge would be finding our groups, location and tableau in a swift manner. Individual tableaus were included. I really enjoyed this activity and I think it is good for several age groups. For younger age groups I need to consider that speed not be as heavily focused on because children need time and space to get to other areas of the room. More advanced students could be given more complex tableaus to create and/ or use more people to work with and possibly even less time in between to re create their tableaus.
Memory activity number two required us to go on an imaginary trip and we each had to pack something that started with the first letter of our name. We sat in a large circle. The facilitator invited those more willing to challenge their memory to sit on her right and those not as daring to sit on her left (excellent way to help students decide their comfort level). As it became each person’s turn they were to say their name and what they were packing AS WELL as state the name and item of all the prior participants. Example: My name is Jana and I took jam.
Memory activity three we also sat in a circle and we were to introduce the person to our right and state what was special about him/ her and then introduce yourself and what is special about you. The only difference in these two activities is that we were not required to remember everyone in the circle, only the person to our right. I thought the scaffolding idea stating what was special to each of us was unique and I enjoyed learning more about my peers. This can be done at the beginning of the year to make it more challenging (learning everyone’s names) or even at the end of the year because we can still learn things about our peers. The “special” could be turned to something such as one’s favourite colour, food, animal, etc however the “special” aspect made it more intimate.
Classroom discussion took us into groups of four to discuss the article “Art in the Age of Political Correctness” by Rachel Jessica Daniels and her review of Architecting. This was a difficult and dense read but it still became a very interesting group (and then class) discussion. Architecting was a play incorporating race as its main theme but only using White actors. This was done intentionally to “raise interesting questions about race in the United States” (p. 138). I found it very interesting that the play was about race but only one reviewer of many even commented on it in their review. The point being that Whites are not willing to discuss race yet People of Colour combat this every single day but we all play into the expectations of our race, daily, whether it is a conscious decision or not. Daniels was a black reviewer that was not offended by the play, in fact she gave it a great review. The play was difficult to understand and follow and one would need to be an avid performance attendee to understand all the dynamics at work. I question if it is worthwhile doing something so complex, yet imperative, when only a select few can understand the meaning.
Classroom discussion then led to questions regarding casting and the complexities involved in this. I was particularly interested in the casting of the musical Hair Spray especially because this has been performed several times recently within Regina. My questions were based on Whites playing Black roles (I am not referring to Black face- this is obviously completely unacceptable). Sara’s response intrigued me. She proposed: if a school does have coloured population and they are not auditioning for black roles, why aren’t they? (and she strongly suggested reasons they would not be- it will alienate coloured people even more. I had not considered this). As educators, we need to have discussions with people of all colour and find out what type of arts they would like to participate in. We need to be careful coming from the angle of white privilege.
Even though I did not understand the Daniels article very well, I understood our discussion and I appreciated a drama article and review written by a Black Woman. This is different perspective that I do not immerse myself in whole lot. What I pulled most from this weeks class is that I need to find different points of view from different backgrounds than my own and I need to be willing to have hard conversations about race in respectful and understanding ways.
Log Book, Week 9
This week’s inclusive circle hacky sack ball toss was normal and upon receipt of the ball we stated what our favourite Halloween candy was. We worked our way into having 3 balls running at the same time. Was enjoyable! There was a lot of “nervous energy” as Sara put it so she had us participate in a group activity before pushing into our process dramas.
The group game had us stand in rows of 4 with our arms stretched out completely in all directions. When we faced south we were “streets” and facing east we were alleys. 2 students stood out in order to be either a robber or cop (or cat and mouse) and were to chase each other around the streets and alleys. When Sara called out street, we all needed to be facing south with arms outreached and when Sara called out alleys the group was to face east, changing the dynamics and direction of the game! Was fun to watch!
This week Sara spoke a lot about using written reflection as a teacher, especially a new teacher. I am going to take this opportunity to reflect on a few class events from this week. I will address first how my group’s process drama unfolded and then I will discuss Halloween costumes in the classroom.
Our process drama was geared towards a grade 9 social studies class. We were well organized and it was well executed. I think it went really well and that the participants felt there was good flow to it. However, I feel like I participated in someone else’s process drama: I had very few (speaking) parts at all- there was a main group member that monopolized majority of the process drama. The ideas I contributed were unwelcome and unexplored. There was a group member who was very controlling, felt s/he had more experience (so s/he thought), volunteered in community drama productions, etc. I think our group will receive a great mark but I am here for more than a good grade. I would have enjoyed and appreciated exploring the “weaker” group members ideas also, even if they were not worth a better mark. I would have taken a lower mark to have a better group experience and I feel I would have learned more. We were asked to form our own groups and this is always an uncomfortable position to be in: I do not know the class members well and frankly I just wanted to be in a group as quickly as possible so as to not appear like I did not belong. I do not believe I chose my group companions wisely but I am unsure what I would have done differently simply because I did not know my group members well. I suppose this is life……
Another reflection piece for me: drama class landed on Halloween so a few class members dressed up in costume. One class member came in, late, dressed as a “Mormon missionary”- clearly mocking the religion. I do not know how in a school of 16,000 students, I was in this classroom with this person because I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints- Mormon is the slang term for this religion that we do not use for ourselves. It was very clear when this peer walked in that I was not in a safe place. My learning was halted and I felt nervous, mocked, unsafe, and as though I needed to be defensive. To make things worse, we were even grouped together to participate in each other’s process dramas. It is very difficult to concentrate, let one’s guard down (be vulnerable) and learn when there is blatant mockery in your face in a place that is supposed to be safe. I did talk to this peer about it at the end of class and I was asked if I was offended. I am not sure “offense” is the correct question to ask because I cannot be offended by this- we all get agency to dress, act and speak as we wish. I was clearly put in an unsafe zone though, which nobody could have predicted because my peer clearly does not approve of “Mormons”. I am left wondering what I would do if this happened in my classroom because we cannot take away the agency of our students but safety is also of importance to me. I learned that dress up can be tricky and needs to be used with caution, taste and common sense. I am not convinced school is the appropriate place to make your political nor religious opinions public, although I do realize that school is not neutral either. I do not have the right answer but a person should not feel attacked nor criticized, especially in a place they spend majority of their time.
We will face cultures, races, sexual orientations, etc. that we do not understand but mockery should never be part of our behaviour toward them, especially in EDUCATION. We are going to come across students from all walks of life and we need to try our best to be sensitive to this even though we may not understand.
I learned a very valuable lesson this Halloween- I need to be sensitive to other religions, cultures, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations and so on in my classroom, in education. By saying this, I am not saying Sara is not (I think she’s wonderful this way!). I am simply saying I learned first hand that I need to be culturally aware. There is nothing Sara could have done- she most likely did not even know.
Log Book, Week 8
Our inclusive circle hacky sack ball toss became very involved, complex and required a lot of concentration this week. We kept the same order of throwing the ball and then we stated our favourite food (mine was hamburgers). On top of this we then traded spots with the person we received the ball from all the while keeping the same order of ball toss and listening for the order in which to yell out your favourite food. I found this interesting (and confusing!) because by the end our circle almost matched the order it began but in a 180 degree tilt.
Our warm up exercise theme revolved around the theme of relaxation which I found paradoxical because mid semester there is NO relaxation! Perhaps Sara did this on purpose!? The three facilitators ran different relaxation exercises; the first being focus on breathing. Breathe in, hold, breathe completely out in with your body in a relaxed position. Facilitator two did something similar but introduced calming music for us to listen to while verbally leading us through mental visual relaxation scenarios. The last facilitator also had us breathe but had us focus our hand grip by encouraging us to grip our hands shut with the thumbs facing outwards. The second time through we were encouraged to tuck our thumbs inside our palms and then close our grip. The difference being that with our thumbs tucked inside we focused more on our inner selves and the opposite true with our thumbs facing outwards we focused our attention on our outer selves. Was a lovely and calming way to begin a class although a little unmotivating to get to work! haha
Jumping right into discussion of process drama, Sara led us in an open Q & A regarding the Journal article we read. Sara co authored this Journal article with Wager regarding a process drama Sara conducted with Rose, a social studies teacher teaching about 17th Century witch hunts which leads to discrimination. There were many excellent student questions that Sara openly answered. From reading this article I had the impression Sara was not confident the process drama was a success, or certainly not what she had anticipated the students pull from the experience. During her debriefing, the students gave honest feedback and drew positive understandings from the social studies unit on witch hunts. Some students were able to connect with the process drama while others missed the point (a few students were more than willing to offer a fellow peer up for the hanging). I really connected with the resistant student, Eric, who was pre assigned a low status role. Eric had difficulty engaging. Rose had chosen Eric specifically for the low status role because Rose felt she could handle it because she was a confident student. At debrief Eric admitted she would not participate/ engage because the role reminded her of times when she had been bullied- this was too much a power shift for her. Rose did not know she had experienced this in her life. I have not experienced bullying (being bullied nor being a bully) however I am somewhat resistant at times in some circumstances, especially if I do not feel safe or if I feel far too vulnerable, which happens almost every drama class. It comes across as non-engaging however I am still learning, as I believe Eric was, but our learning looks very different. I question how does one like me learn to become comfortable in a drama class? I cannot quite pinpoint why or where my discomfort lay but as I pondered this this past week I wonder how much my peers play into this. If I felt more comfortable with them, would I feel more comfortable in drama class? Or maybe it is just all me?
I recognize process dramas are very valuable in the classroom and can be applied in many different subject areas of study. I want to be very clear though that these are not to be taken lightly. Process dramas carry a lot of weight and can be weighed down with difficult undertones that are largely unpredictable. I believe the in the work of process drama: I think they are very powerful and effective but also delicate and need to be taken with care and attention.
Log Book, Week 7
This weeks class began with our traditional hacky sack ball toss around our inclusive circle & upon receipt we stated something we are proud of. We threw the ball for many rounds, remembering the pattern we developed at the beginning of the ball toss however we only talked about 1 proud moment in one round.
Our drama class of 20 students were then broken into 4 small groups & assigned to discuss one of our assigned readings from the past week, making notes of everyone’s contribution on a piece of paper (as pictured above). Each small group then mixed in with another small group (that had a different reading assignment) & this formed 2 larger groups. We taught each other what the readings were about. This is a great way to involve students in learning because it allows them to become “expert” in diving deeply into the course content, looking for greater depth & understanding.
Class finished off in 4 groups of 5-6 and each group was assigned a children’s book to read & then asked to perform either a readers theatre, storytelling, tableau, or cut poetry- as pictured above (Sara made the assignment- the group did not pick which one they wanted). I was assigned cut poetry which made me nervous (although any of them would have made me nervous!!). I have never heard of cut poetry & I don’t tend to appreciate poetry so I was very hesitant but I tried (& I really enjoyed the experience!!). We read the children’s book together in our group of 5 & the photocopied pages of the children’s book had been provided along with scissors & glue. We needed to cut words out of the photocopies & glue the words onto pretty coloured paper to make a “poem”. The poem did not need to rhyme because this is “free poetry”- I didn’t understand this at first because we were taking a story to create a poem. Our groups thoughts & imaginations quickly kicked in & we cut & pasted important and key words from the story that combined to make a short poem that reflected the idea of the story extremely well.. It was very cool!! Pictured below, with permission, are my group members who completed this enjoyable assignment. Samantha, middle, read our poem aloud to the class. To scaffold this simpler/ for younger age groups, students could look for illustrations in the book to tell the story. To make it more difficult, students could make the poem longer, create patterns, or include rhyming words.
The second group performed a readers theatre based again off a children’s book about a boy who wanted a different name. As an audience, we had our backs to the performers so we could better focus on the vocal sounds as they read from the book. I really liked the part where the character wanted his name changed to Lightening & the group indicated lightening through combining their voices. To scaffold simpler/ younger the students could use only a few pages or use less characters. For more advanced students they could incorporate more vocal play into the act or make the story more complex by adding more details.
Group 3 used still images, tableau, to tell their child’s story which was about a boy who wanted to create his own vehicle. Their frozen images were very well done although I was not able to make out the plot (my inexperience with tableaus). After the story was explained I would have loved to see the groups performance again (we ran out of time). To scaffold simpler/ younger students, the tableau’s could be 2 person tableau’s or simpler verbs rather than nouns (ex: he “froze” rather than “car”). More advanced students will enjoy more complex stories and the flexibility and freedom to add more details from the story into their tableau’s.
Group 4 told the children’s book through story telling which consisted of a few simple acts & a narrator. The narrator read a few sections/ parts from the actual book while other groups members enacted particular key scenes from the book to allow the audience to understand the plot without having read the book. Scaffolding techniques include adding details and more/ less description to the story and include more/ less characters that have more/ less interactions with one another.
A lot of scaffolding will occur before the unfolding of any of the physical features I have just explained above. As a teacher I will need to focus on the story and elaborate on the details of how to tell a story well. I absolutely LOVE these 4 story telling techniques that were introduced in this week’s drama class. The many levels of scaffolding are endless with each story telling technique.
Log Book, Week 6
This week’s class began with our usual routine by throwing the hacky sack ball around our inclusive circle. Upon receipt of the ball we needed to state our favourite music artist. We did three rounds of the game before jumping into our facilitators warm up exercises which were based on the theme of cooperation. We were to find a partner (ideally whom we’d never worked with before). One partner was to close their eyes for 15 seconds and envision a space/ place (ex.kitchen, bedroom, etc). Upon opening the eyes (after 15 seconds) the closed eyes person was to explain in as much detail to their partner the space they had envisioned and the partner then pantomimed the space out. My space was my kitchen, my partners space was his car (and he had a paint ball gun in his trunk- super funny!). We were encouraged to use as much room space in the classroom as possible, making use of all the room. This activity is suitable for all age groups although I would give younger children a choice of maybe 3 places (your bedroom, your kitchen or your favourite play ground) to simplify and narrow in the assignment so as to not overwhelm the students because space is too general for young students. This will also make the activity move along because children at times can take a long time to make up their mind/ make a decision on what to choose.
Our second warm up activity we were divided into three groups and we were given the same word in which we had to cooperate using our bodies as a group to display what the word was. Our words were washing machine and steam roller (I did not know what a steam roller was- the facilitator had to explain it!). It was enjoyable and hit the targeted goal of cooperation; can easily be adapted for all age groups. For younger students use simpler words (not steam roller!) such as light, for example. We were given 2.5 minutes to work as a group, to cooperate, to come up with a plan that we then demonstrated in front of our peers. I really liked this part because I was able to view what the other groups did with the same word! Each group was different and unique.
Sara then broke our class into groups of three where we went to separate stations with our group and followed the instructions at the station. See picture below for station #1 along with our written responses.
This was my favourite station which surprised me because I was nervous about hot seating! It was really fun and interactive to put 2 students in the hot seat of electees of our national upcoming election. (As a teacher I can use theme/ categories that we are exploring in our classroom- not just politics). Our group happened to have about half who were somewhat versed in Canadian politics so we did not have a lot of “down” time. What I really loved about this activity is I felt like I got to really express myself (through questioning) to the running electees, something that does not happen in my real life experience. In round two I really enjoyed playing with the angel and devil behind the hot seated person- this enabled to voice all sorts of perspectives and add humor in appropriate ways. I think students of all grade levels could use this as a learning tool on almost any subject area in school.
Our third station was spent discussing process drama and this was the station I was dreading the most because process drama scares and intimidates me although I learned in my group that I was not the only one feeling this way! We were not able to come up with any good pretext ideas- we got caught up on the questions we have but are not able to express in words what we’re confused on. We briefly discussed Residential Schools but realized this is not a good topic for process dramas.
At the end of class we formed our own process drama groups and spent the last 15-20 minutes discussing plans on how to carry out our own process drama. I am still really nervous however I believe in the learning that can come from it so I am willing to jump in with both feet and give my best effort.
Log Book, Week 5
Today’s class began again with our hacky sack ball thrown around our inclusive circle. We needed to remember the order we received and threw. Upon receiving the ball we were to tell the class something we are excited for within the next 4 days. I said I’m excited to attend Captain Blood tomorrow night at Regina Little Theatre. Turns out there is a few of us from class going to see it! Sara worked us up to 3 balls going around but this time she increased the speed at which the balls moved! Increasing the speed is a scaffolding technique used to build on this tradition to make the activity more difficult and require more concentration and team work.
Warm up activities were based on the theme of concentration. As a group we stood in a circle and we were to count 1-20 as a group but if two people said the same number at the same time we needed to start over again at 1. After about 3 attempts we were successfully able to reach 20. To demonstrate scaffolding we then turned our backs to the circle and tried again, this time we could not see each other (another option is to close our eyes however this may make one feel too vulnerable therefore uncomfortable with the activity). This encouraged team work, concentration and intentional listening.
Warm up activity number 2 our group was to count 1-50 but on every 3, 6, 9, and any number containing those numbers (13, 39, 46, etc) we were to stay silent but CLAP the number. In situations where the number was a double (33, 39) we were to double clap and be silent (not say the number out loud). There are many ways to scaffold this activity such as not putting a limit on the number of 50 (how HIGH can we get?) or count backwards- which we did: it was very challenging yet fun! I am actually going to do this activity tonight with my Glee kids but they are bit young to clap and be silent on every 3, 6 and 9 so I will only have them clap and be silent on 3’s and numbers containing 3 (13, 23, 33, etc.).
Warm up activity number 3 based on the theme of concentration started with the facilitator making some type of motion such as riding a bike, sweeping the floor, etc. The person next to her was instructed to ask “What are you doing?” to which she responded kicking a ball. The person who had just asked the question was to carry out the new action while the person next her asked “What are you doing?” to which a new instruction was given and then carried out, all the way around the circle. Sara was given the instruction of birthing a baby- it was so funny and clearly the girl that was to relieve Sara of this excruciating experience found it funny too because she waited several moments (while the class is laughing at Sara- be careful that the student can handle this “ridicule”- Sara could in this circumstance) before finally asking Sara “What are you doing?”. I really enjoyed this activity because it invites moderate movement and creative thinking on the instruction/ movement you are going to have the person next to you do. Word of caution is that the instructions/ movements given could possibly become inappropriate in older students and a teacher will really need to know her students to know their comfort level with acting in a “solo” situation for a few moments. That said, I did it and I’m not one for those “solo” moments.
Next up in class was the continuation and conclusion of our Rabbit Process Drama. To pick up where we left off from last week’s class, Sara, now our town mayor, not our university instructor (Sara had her mayor hat on) invited all us village people to the town hall meeting where we discussed the rabbit problem. If we had something to say (in play) we were invited to the podium (2 stacked boxes with a water bottle as a microphone) to say our peace. Many students took turns stating what they each thought should be done regarding the rabbits. Our choices were: 1. Invite the rabbits in; 2. Keep them out; 3. Move. Much discussion happened in this town hall meeting which ended with 2 Councillors (pre-assigned) making the final decision (in our case we stayed living in our village and would not allow the rabbits into our village-we were to take measures to keep the rabbits out). Sara removed her hat (university instructor now) and had us take a few moments to write our thoughts down about what we thought of the mayor and Councillors final decision. Then the village people lined up in two rows facing each other and the mayor and the Councillors walked down this “aisle” extremely slowly as we each murmured our thoughts aloud about the decision. The villagers kept repeating over and over one sentence from our writing we found most powerful. After this walk about from the mayor and city Councillors the villagers found a partner and exchanged our paper that had our thoughts regarding the decision and we were to underline what we thought was the highlighted point. We then dissipated into our own space within the classroom and we each read aloud (using the same format as counting 1-20, no particular order however we were trying to link/ story the whole group’s one sentence into a larger whole) the highlighted point from our partner’s paper. THIS is when I finally understood, I got it. The entire Process Drama was set up to teach me about colonization. European’s came over with different ideals and stole from the First People. This played out in our Process Drama- we (White Settlers) actually pushed the Rabbits out because we did not understand or maybe did not agree with or whatever the circumstance may have been! This was a much more powerful way of understanding colonization than when I’ve read in history books. I “experienced” pushing someone out because it was different than me. It was painful and uncomfortable.
Some students felt our Rabbit Process Drama was about immigration or about being kind/ thoughtful towards others and this is also correct. The Process Drama is actually about what ever it is the student pulls from it. I pulled colonization out but that does not mean a student that pulled something else out was wrong. Process Drama is about “focusing on the individuals’s discoveries and reading of a moment” and about “student voice” (Gustave Weltsek).
I thought the entire thing was fantastic and extremely well done. That said, I am absolutely petrified to facilitate one myself (our next group project). I am not quick on my feet and I am worried my “students” won’t glean anything positive from it! Sara will give us her copy of the Rabbit Process Drama but even with step by step directions I question my ability! I will link her lesson plan as soon as she makes it available.
Log Book, Week 4
Class this week began again throwing hacky sack balls (we worked ourselves up to using 5 at the same time!!) around our inclusive circle. The twist this time was we needed to comment on something we learned from our assigned reading (Mantle of the Expert). This is a great way to incorporate fun learning into an active activity in our routine.
Warm up activities were based on the theme of trust & our student facilitators started by having us walk around the room looking up at the ceiling as though there were clouds high in the sky, purpose being to familiarize ourselves within space (don’t run into anybody!). We were then told to do the same thing but to focus only on our toes as we walked. This was to scaffold into our next, bigger activity where we worked with a partner. Our partner was to close their eyes while the seeing partner gave verbal directions, such as take 2 steps to your left, move forward, stop, etc. Then we scaffold-ed up again this time by grasping our partner’s (get a new partner) forearm and leading them around the room with their eyes closed (don’t run into anybody!). Our last trust exercise was an even bigger take on trust because our partner (new partner again) stood behind the one with their eyes closed and only used the pressure from his/ her hand on your shoulder to steer the blinded one around the room. To adapt this specific activity the ‘steerer” in the back could put pressure on either left or right shoulders to indicate which direction to turn and then tap/ double tap the back to go/ stop. Adaptations to these exercises could include turning off the lights or using blind folds (especially for younger children because they like to get blind folded). To take it up a notch (scaffold up to a more difficult level for older students), students can be encouraged to walk across the room as quickly as possible with their eyes closed and to STOP just before they hit the wall they are walking towards. Or students outside a circle of a blinded student could yell directions and the blinded student would need to focus his ears on only his partners voice/ commands. Many of these activities could be conducted outside in a field, school yard, etc. These are some adaptations that can be used with a trust exercise so as to be inclusive of all age groups and levels of participation.
Sara introduced us to PROCESS DRAMA by placing a hat on her head and thanking us for voting her in as mayor of our village (hat indicated Sara moved from university instructor mode into play mode, absolutely excellent and brilliant idea- she would remove the hat when she needed to make the switch back to university instructor). She indicated there had been some type of trouble with rabbits so we took a “tour” outside our village, which meant we physically left our classroom (brilliant idea) and toured the second floor of our building. These pictures indicate what we discovered as we toured outside our village:
We arrived back in our class and my peers were really into this. They had ongoing conversations/ dialogue about what we should do to solve this problem. I was completely confused; I kept reassuring myself I had read everything on UR Courses, that I hadn’t missed anything. Then I figured Sara must have pre-assigned my peers some type of script to play out. Remember, I have ZERO experience in drama, I did not realize until almost the end of class that my peers were simply playing along with the whole thing, enjoying it and having fun. I was so nervous and confused the whole time- this class really keeps me on my toes. I am really struggling with what is appropriate for a 42 year old mother of four (that’s me) to interact in a circumstance such as what took place in class. My peers are more than half my age….. what would they think of a ‘old’ woman behaving like them? Not that there is anything wrong with their behaviour- they behave appropriately as 20 odd some year old youth. I am not sure there is a solution for this- I am the one who chose to stay home with my babies all those years but there are certainly some significant drawbacks!
To move on regarding process drama: I had read about process drama but to actually experience it unfold is almost nothing like what I read about. During the debrief the question arose: WHY would a teacher conduct a process drama within the classroom?Excellent question and the quickest answer is that process dramas are to answer a question. The students may or may not know what the question is they are discovering in the process. In our particular circumstance Sara had the question in her mind and she did not share it with us. As uncomfortable as I was in this week’s class I see value in process dramas. The students LOVE it and can easily “go with it”. The students are able to freely and creatively think and let their ideas out in exciting and non-judgmental ways. The students fed off each other: each time one said something another could build on it. As an example of building off each other’s ideas, see the pictured bunny below. We even developed crazy pros and cons for allowing the rabbits to participate in our village! (see picture below). It was all make believe and the story became wilder and wilder and more complex as time passed. One thing I liked that Sara did was follow through on ideas that emerged. A student suggested we go talk to the village that had “celebrated the arrival of the rabbits” (see above photograph). This was an actual classroom, with students inside learning! So Sara and another student marched down there and had a conversation with that university instructor regarding our make believe story about rabbits (Sara knew the instructor well, had a great rapport with her and they had mutual understandings of each other’s professions). What an incredible way to drive in some significant learning!
As a few final comments: process drama encourages self discovery, play, creativity, imagination, the outdoors (we were inside but this can easily be taken outdoors), required almost no props/ set. A limitation I addressed is the comfort level of all involved. It is important to respect that not each student can nor will be vulnerable/ open to this form of exploration/ learning and we need to acknowledge that and be ok with it (remember me!? I couldn’t be as vulnerable in this situation as I wish I could have been). I would love to use process dramas to address issues of unkindness/ bullying issues that could arise. I think it would be a safe way to explore the questions that arise from these difficult circumstances.
Log Book, Week 3
Week 3 began as anticipated: the throwing of the hacky sack ball around our inclusive circle. This week Sara did not require us to say our names as we threw the ball however I wished she had because I am still having difficulty knowing/ remembering the 22 other students names- I would have appreciated this reinforcement one more week yet. After one round of throwing the ball per usual, Sara had us go backwards with our ball throwing meaning we were to throw the ball to the person who threw to us. We had a practice round of this fun and mentally challenging twist and then Sara brought in a second ball which was to run its regular/ normal cycle. This was great having 2 balls going at the same time but in different directions. Both balls going in opposite directions would be a great activity with older students, not necessarily both balls (different directions) with younger children.
Our warm up activity was based on patience and intentional listening and the student facilitator ran two exercises with us. The first exercise she gave us the two simple commands of walk/ stop and we were to carry out the verbs as stated. She then had us reverse the meanings of the verbs: so stop meant walk and walk meant stop! She then introduced 2 more verbs which were clap/ say your name. We then listened very carefully to her commands remembering that stop actually meant walk and walk meant stop. Next round was the switch of the 2 new verbs: so clap meant we were to say our names and say our names meant clap. We had a practice round of these 4 opposite meaning verbs. Yet again, another 2 verbs were introduced which were jump and dance and this round we were to continue the previous 4 verbs as opposites but jump/ dance were to be carried out as they really are. Last round the facilitator then used all 6 verbs in their opposite meanings! This took a lot of patience and practice of careful listening and it was fun! I would do this activity with older students. In class we brain stormed scaffolding ways, as pictured above on the right side of the board, that we could adapt this exercise to younger students or when I am in need of more ideas or when I need to make an exercise simpler or more challenging for different students. I really like the game “What Time is it Mr. Wolf” for younger children to practice their patience and intentional listening skills and this game can be a precursor for working its way up to the activity we just did in class, although simplified for the younger students. The younger students I would start with 2 verbs and work for a longer duration (10 minutes instead of 5 minutes, for example). I liked it when the facilitator used the same verb, in its opposite back to back (for example: stop, stop, walk, walk actually meant walk, walk, stop, stop).
The facilitator then ran a second warm up activity with us that I will call the Human Knot. We were divided into two groups (because 22 was too many for one group) and we formed a very close circle, stretching our arms straight out and were to grab anybody’s hands, as long as we had not grabbed both hands of the same person. I have actually never done this activity before so I was extremely confused because the facilitator did not give any further instruction and then my group started moving. I felt silly blurting out asking what was going on/ what was I supposed to do: I was clearly the only person that did not know! This is an important lesson for me because we can at times take things for granted, meaning we think common knowledge is “common” however it is not. I do not want any of my students unclear about a group activity even when it appears everybody does in fact understand. The “one” rarely wants to admit they don’t know. I may have even asked ahead of time what was going on or what was expected during the activity but the facilitator did not allow/ give time for this- we jumped straight into the Human Knot. The point to this game is to unravel ourselves without letting go of the linked hands held. It was an enjoyable activity and I will use this with my own students. It was wise to split our class into 2 groups as a Human Knot activity of 22 (or more) is too many. I liked that this activity was used to practice patience/ listening however it could also be used as an ice breaker game/ get to know you activity and as a team building exercise.
My favourite and biggest learning opportunity in this week’s class was the collaboration of making and telling a story sentence by sentence (I can do word by word for younger students or even for a different effect). Sara made a set of a table, checkered table cloth, dimly lit lamp, glass of water, and hat sitting on top with a chair beside this table, as pictured below. She invited us to formulate a semi circle around the set and then she turned the classroom lights off but the lamp’s light was still lit. Sara then had the student at one end of the semi circle begin a “story”, which was to be one sentence per student, based on the set. (Our story began as a Private Investigator’s business going under due to poor investigative skills on one particularly large case). I realized what an impact story telling, without a script, could have! Each student was able to freely express their thoughts free of judgement/ ridicule. I contributed to the making of a story! As the story unfolded, student by student, sentence by sentence, Sara had a male peer sit in the chair on set (because our story was about a male) and this changed the plot slightly because now we started to make the story about the male on the set rather than the male that was in our imaginations. It was very effective having the classroom lights off with just the lamp light on because the darkness commanded respect, we all became silent and even Sara, who could talk, used softer vocal tones. The story making made drama come alive to me. Two people before me, in her sentence, made up that this Private Investigator’s wife had just left him. I was so engrossed in the plot that I felt my throat tighten and my eyes moisten; I became nervous because my turn was almost there and I did not want to be crying over a made up story! What I learned is drama can be experienced with my own students in a very average classroom, wearing normal street clothes with very little in a set. I also realized it is my job to set the tone. This activity can be successfully carried out with all age groups. I would adapt the activity based on the age groups I have. With younger students they might only be able to contribute a few words instead of an entire sentence as their vocabulary and sentence building skills will still be developing (and what a great way to assist in learning those skills!). With older students I wonder if I could break them into 2 groups and then bring the 2 stories together into 1 large story! I like the flexibility and possible adaptations with this activity.
Log Book, Week 2
Class began this week the same it had last week (I like the practice of beginning the same each class): throwing the hacky sack ball around the inclusive circle of classmates. I was somewhat anticipating this activity and I gained confidence in myself knowing that I knew/ anticipated what was about to unfold in class. I really like this approach; I was surprised at the confidence I felt beginning class (especially considering drama somewhat intimidates me so I am already going to class with some interpretation). The other thing Sara did right at the beginning of class was write on the board and explain how today’s class was going to unfold. I will use this strategy in my practice.
Today Sara took us outside for class. She encouraged/ modeled for us to find/ how to use great outdoor space that we can use for drama/ teaching drama. She brought us to this great outdoor space right at the University of Regina, to the North, known as Mind’s Garden. Sara gave great detail on how she has used this space for her own drama students. She also passionately expressed the importance of students needing to be outside (no matter how bad the weather is). On our field trip day it was raining and had been raining for 4 days solid; regardless, Sara had us go outside and experience nature and fresh air while stopping to teach us technical drama terms. I realized through this experience that I need to always be concentrating on my students needs rather than my own agenda- I do not like any winter time weather nor do I like the rain, however, the students still need to get outside. I am going to need to learn to dress up with many layers!
3 students today presented excellent warm up activities and I am interested in incorporating in my practice. The first presenter distributed colourful play scarves and then turned on gentle music and encouraged free movement around the room. At times she would talk us through a particular movement and sometimes she let us use our imagination and silence to provoke our imagination/ creativity. A lesson she did not address was the silence (there was music but nobody spoke). I was uncomfortable at first with this silence (maybe because I felt silly “dancing” with a scarf?) but as time (and it really was only a few minutes total) went on I came to appreciate this quiet, reflective approach. I am not sure if this was intentional on the presenter’s end of things or not but I think it was effective.
Presenter number 2 had us line up and he would tell us an emotion (angry, confused, happy, etc) and we were then to walk as though we were currently experiencing the emotion ourselves. I think it can be an excellent lesson to help children understand their emotions and the conversation could continue several ways (how do we appropriately respond to these emotions, who do we talk to, who can be trusted, etc.). I learned another tool for my tool box. I liked that nothing (no outside resources) was required for this activity.
Presenter number 3 had us pair up and mime what our partner was doing. This activity encouraged fun, creative body movements, helps with coordination and promoting team work within a partnership. I would take this activity outside to incorporate the outdoors into the students learning experience as it would allow for more extreme/ bigger body movements while getting the much needed fresh air, even if it is raining!
Log Book, Week 1
Pictured above: Statue Exercise
Week 1 we spent extensive time getting to know each other, our names and participating in ice breaking activities. Sara Schroeter, our instructor, was able to quickly unite (a goal I value in this situation of initial awkwardness/ shyness/ insecurities that come from the “first day of school jitters”) the students by inviting us into an inclusive circle where we could easily make eye contact with each other. We introduced ourselves using some type of body movement (of our choice) while stating our name and each member in the circle then repeated both the name and the action. This activity moved quickly around the circle, not dwelling on pronunciation or awkward body movements.
A hacky sack ball was then introduced to the circle while each student held their right hand in the air to signify if they’ve had a turn (hand goes down once the ball has been thrown to them). For round one the ball thrower states their name as they throw the ball to someone with a raised hand. Round two the ball thrower now needs to remember the rotation/ pattern the ball was thrown from round one and repeat but this time stating the name of the student they are throwing the ball to. Round 3 becomes really exciting because 2 more balls (a total of 3 balls now- could I possibly add MORE balls- would there be an advantage to more balls? Only use multiple balls for older age groups) are introduced and the activity moves very quickly with many “balls in the air” (3 going in different directions at the same time in the same activity). By the end of the activity there was a real feeling of team work, accomplishment and pride! Success!
Sara really encouraged us to develop a tradition/ ritual within our own practice. This tradition/ ritual may signify whatever I need it to such as class time is about to begin, or change or even end or perhaps to celebrate daily successes, or whatever I may think of in my practice. Sara commented that some have chosen to light a candle (I do not really like this, it may not work for me but maybe using a small waterfall could work?).
This week’s class included a drama activity which was completely new to me, that I had never experienced before. 4 groups were given different parts to play to act out (among each other) a curriculum problem (our case was an impending strike). I could use a drama activity like this to teach any number of curriculum objectives. I was actually very confused at first by what was going on (I could only compare it to a Murder Mystery) so in my own practice I would make sure my students really know and understand what a process drama is, what to expect and how to carry this activity out in order to maximize its effect in learning.
The picture (above) in this weeks blog shows the descriptive words my classmates and I brainstormed regarding teachers (positive or negative influencers) in our lives (Sara wrote these on the white board). Sara led us through a closed eye scenario giving us time to ponder about the teacher in our lives by asking us deep thinking questions. We then had only a few seconds to use our body to make it a statue representing the teacher we had just remembered. The statues only lasted a few seconds, enough time for Sara to see all but not our classmates. The advantage of this is I felt no judgement based on my statue formation however I would have liked to see what others had done and why. A brief class conversation would have been helpful in further understanding.
Sara is excellent at using her body, voice, hand gestures, and ENERGY to make class time an exciting and SAFE environment to experiment and experience learning. She makes learning fun, not boring (observe how she wrote the descriptive words on the white board- all over, not in any particular order, randomly placed) and she easily thinks outside the box (remember how we introduced ourselves: we did not just state our name, we used our body to “show” our name, helping others remember our names). She aided the class in ways in which there was no judgement (statue exercise: there was no time given to look at others) from her nor my classmates. I want to incorporate these character traits into my practice.
Warm Up Activities
I want a quick, easy way to access and referece warm up activities. My blog details each activity in full detail along with scaffolding ideas. Here are the ideas in simple point form:
- hacky sack ball throw
- statue exercises
- walk out given emotions
- walk, stop/ clap, say name/ jump, dance
- human knot
- tell story word by word/ sentence by sentence
- partner’s face each other grasping forearms (or use shoulders): one has eyes closed while the other partner gives directions.
- count 1-20. No numbers can be said aloud at the same time-start over
- count 1-50 clapping on 3/6/9
- action is passed on from previous person
- One partner closes eyes for 15 seconds, envisions a space. Upon opening of eyes, explains space to partner whom then pantomimes out the instructions/ explanations.
- Small groups given a word (ex. washing machine, Steam Roller) and group has 2.5 minutes to discuss/ decide how to use their bodies to display the word/ item.
- Vocal Play: Do, Re, Me, Fa, So, La, Ti, Do (I would use the solfege hand signs). Exercise voice going from your deepest sound to your highest.
- Pretend lick/ suck a huge gobstopper- first it’s sweet, then salty, spicy, your favourite flavour, etc.
- Practice Tongue Twisters
- Zip, Zap, Zop (energy ball, keep the pretend energy moving with no breaks)
- What are you doing? Person asks person next in circle what are you doing, the response is an action that s/he is NOT doing.
- Build on a machine: _____ number of people to build a ______ (example: 5 people build an airplane- using their bodies)
- Build on tableaus: one person comes to centre and holds a tableau- others join, one by one, adding to the scene.
- Street/ Alley: one person the cop, the other the robber- chase after each other through the “streets and alleys”.
- Going on a trip. Jana is taking jam.
- My name is ________. I am special because _____________. Introduce and repeat the special, go around in circle.
- Mimick and then outdo sound of person to your left.
- “Disciples of the World”, rhythm exercise
- “Pass the Beat Around the Room”, rhythm exercise.
- My Name is Jana and I ____. Repeat around the circle.
- Upset the basket/ The Prairie Wind blows when ______ (a truth about self, if others have same truth they scramble to find a new seat).
- “Summer Nights” dance.
- Get to know you: “Dracula”. Point hands to someone and say their name, begin walking towards them in order to take their spot- they need to point hands to someone else, saying that person’s name before you get to their spot.
- Zip, Zap, Zop: Pass it around the circle keeping in rhythm.
- Zip, Zap, Zoom: person in middle. Approach one in circle & say one of those words. Zip= person to your right, Zap= person to left. Zoom= Self.
- Swoosh, Ahhhhh, dance party, freak out.
- Human knot.
- Blind bus/ car.
- All heads down, count of 3 all look up making direct eye contact on someone. If they’ve also made eye contact with you, both are out. Last one standing wins.
- Whoosh: Pass whoosh energy ball (pretend ball) around the room.
Whoa: reverses direction
Ramp: skips one person
Double Ramp: skips 2 people
Volcano: all race to middle making a crescendo volcano sound, decrescendo sound as reverse out of circle
- Double guns: person in middle. Everyone else gathers in a circle with hands in gun position. Middle person randomly points to someone in the circle causing this person to quickly duck down. The 2 people on each side of ducked down person are to “shoot” the other. Whichever person shoots first wins. Middle person comes back up although if middle person didn’t duck he is then out. The last two people standing do “rock, paper, scissors” but using “bear, ninja, guns”.
- Projection exercise: pairs of students stand 2 fee apart, facing each other: have a conversation. FREEZE: move back another 2 feet, continue conversation. FREEZE, etc. until partners are at extreme ends of the room.
- Give students a character trait, ex: lazy and for a minute they need to behave this way. Add another layer: speaks too quietly. For another minute they incorporate both. Jodi Scott has a bin full of examples.