Being a former drama teacher, I was thrilled when the current drama teacher at my school came to me wanting assistance with her theatre history project! Theatre history was one of my favorite classes in my undergrad work, and doing a theatre history project was always one of my goals I never achieved as a drama teacher. I simply didn't have time to put together a project I thought the kids would enjoy and covered all of the important topics. Lets face it. . . . .the last thing the beginning drama student wants to hear is that they are doing a research project! (Although it may be fun for some nerdy little drama geeks like me!)
When Renee came to me with the project, her format was spending just one day doing research in the library, having the students write a script where they incorporated all the important facts they researched (i.e. a game show, a "time travel" skit, etc.), and then to quiz the class on what they saw. In her opinion, the unit was scattered at best. Students didn't always do the best job at writing a script or researching, their quiz questions were too specific or too general.
So we sat down like any good librarian-teacher should and began to collaborate. What made this even more exciting was the fact that I used to be a drama teacher, and this was a project I always wanted to do. Renee already had some great guiding worksheets available to help guide the student's research, so we decided to use those as a platform to jump off of. In the end, I think we found the perfect balance of research and performance.
PART ONE: Research
The begin their research students will spend two day in the library. We decided the best way for the students to do their research was through the guiding questions she created for each group. After all, these were beginning drama students, many of which are freshmen. They would need the guidance. I took her original Microsoft Word documents and converted them over to Google Docs and started her up in Google Classroom. The only hitch in our plan was that her students were working in groups with different topics. Google Classroom STILL does not have a way to create groups! This is how we fixed the issue.
One of the ways in which you can fix the problem of not being able to assign groups in Google Classroom is to assign each group a separate assignment, which is what we did for this project. Each group has an assignment with their topic and attached are a link to the library website research materials and a copy of their guiding questions for research they must complete. Normally, a teacher could simply say that the guiding questions can be "Students can edit this document," but they would let anyone in the class open up any of the documents and edit anything they wanted, not just the group members. (Come on, Google. Get it together here!) Therefore, I decided to just have it simply say "Each student will get a copy." That way one group member will go in and share it with their other group members. This was the easiest and fastest way to distribute all of the information.
The next step will be creating a Google Slide Presentation presenting the information they have researched. I decided to take a risk and create an example presentation for Renee. She wasn't super familiar with Google Slides, and I felt that with my extensive background knowledge in theatre and Google Slides, I would be able to do this quickly and effectively. So I took the risk and made the presentation.
I decided to go with a format similar to what I did with an Art Critique Project I created for our Art 1 classes earlier this year. Each of the guiding questions have their own slide. Each student in charge of those guiding questions puts their name in the corner of the slide. Each student has a background color that corresponds to their slides. This way, the teacher knows exactly what each student has done.
In addition to this, I created a slide at the end (again, a risk! I didn't ask the teacher about this ahead of time!) where they found a You Tube clip that showed their genre of theatre in a professional manner.
Then there are a few more slides coordinating with part three and four of this project.
On this slide, students would introduce the cast and give just a simple set-up to the scene. Then, as I imagine it, the projection screen on the stage would roll up for a moment, the projector would turn off, and students would perform their scene. We decided the scenes would be chosen by us, since some of the genres (Kabuki Theatre, Vaudville, etc.) would be difficult for students to find an effective scene on their own. It would be nice if we had the time to give students some options.
PART FOUR: Quiz
The final portion of the slide show and the presentation by the group would be a short ten question quiz. The students will be receiving this example presentation as a template to work off of. Much like the guiding terms Google Doc, one group member would go into Google Classroom, open this template attached to an assignment in Google Classroom, and share it with their group members.
Therefore, since students will be working from this template, they can use the quiz slides at the end to see what good quality questions look like. Renee could also require them to keep the format of a certain number of True/False, Multiple Choice, and Short Answer.
Beyond those slides are the answers to the quiz questions and their bibliography.
Overall, I'm excited to see how these projects come out in the end! I think it's the perfect blend of research, presentation, and performance to fulfill the standard of teaching theatre history to a beginning drama class.
I only wish I had thought of it sooner!
Jennifer Zimny has been a teacher librarian at Ponderosa High School for the past three years and previous to that, she was the drama teacher for 9 years. She holds a BA in Theatre from CSUS, a teaching credential in English, and a teaching credential in Library Media Services from Azusa Pacific University
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