The Show Must Go On…..

I was very disappointed to learn that we would not be returning to school in June. I am missing the students and their families. I feel isolated from my co-workers, and I am longing for the times when we would connect in the hallway and out in the yard. I do not love teaching on-line, but I am finding new ways to engage with my students, collaborate and play.

Reader’s Theatre:
Reader’s Theatre and/or writing and performing original plays works really well on-line. With younger students, you can share the screen and read a poem or a play together as a shared reading activity. Older students can work in Break-Out rooms (ZOOM) or in their own meetings to write and/or read together.  To support the creative process, there are several Drama games and conventions that work on-line, such as speaking in-role, Mirror, exploring different feelings through movement and facial expressions, charades, and more!

It’s Show Time!
As we have all discovered, there is something extra performative about staring at yourself while you are teaching. There are times when I feel like a Children’s Television Host, trying to be as animated and entertaining as possible, which can be exhausting. My students need a body break every 30 minutes, so I always join them to jump and dance to various fitness videos. I have seen educators on social media upload photos of themselves in costumes, sharing ideas about themes such as Beach Day and Star Wars Day. We are all working so hard to be creative and keep our students happy. We deserve a standing ovation every day!!

In preparation for Earth Day, we listened to the story “The Great Kapok Tree” by Lynne Cherry. When a Kapok tree in the Amazon rainforest is threatened, different animals who depend on the tree speak out.  All year, we have been learning about relationships, and the ways in which humans and more-than-humans are all related and connected. This book also supports the Science learning in Grade 2 for Growth and Changes in Animals, as well as environmental justice. I found a Reader’s Theatre script on-line shared by another educator, which I was able to revise for my own students.

Puppets!
Puppets can be used very effectively to tell stories on-line. After choosing their parts, everyone was encouraged to think about how they might develop their character using voice and movement. One of the students’ in the class has two parents who are actors. Krystal Meadows and Eli Ham joined us on-line as special guests. They shared ideas about how we could use the “box” that we are in to move in different ways. We imagined how our character might be feeling, and how that might impact the way the character moves and speaks. We learned about pitch (how high and how low), tempo (how fast and how slow), and timbre (the quality of sound).  During this rehearsal time, everyone was working at home to make a puppet. Some students used a paper bag, or glued a drawing to a stick. Others used toilet paper rolls or socks. They were all very creative!

“Keep Calm and Break a Leg”
After two weeks, we were ready to share our play. In preparation for our performance, some students created their own art to use as backgrounds, which was lovely. We discovered that virtual backgrounds don’t work because the puppet (and the actor) sometimes disappear. During the performance, students were amazing at muting and unmuting themselves. I encouraged everyone to have their own copy of the script so that we did not have to share the screen. We also used “Speaker View” to focus on who was speaking.

The first time we performed, I recorded the meeting and shared it with families to enjoy. We also watched the recording together as a class. We practiced giving and receiving feedback, and thinking about how we might improve our performance. At the next Staff Meeting, I invited other classes to join us for a second performance. I shared our ZOOM link and we had another chance to share our hard work with a new audience.

One of the advantages of performing on-line is that the audience was able to hear the actors clearly. Without a microphone, it can be challenging in-person, (especially when wearing masks) to be heard on stage. If you have an on-line opportunity to write a play with your students or use Reader’s Theatre to perform poetry or a script, I highly recommend it. Drama is so playful and filled with possibilities. Play on!!

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Updated: June 11, 2021 — 10:38 am

The Author

Velvet Lacasse

Hello! My name is Velvet Lacasse. I live and teach on the land of the Mississaugas of the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Wendat. I am a proud social justice educator, and active ETFO workshop presenter and curriculum writer. I love to write and reflect, sing and collaborate.

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