This is my ninth year teaching which means it is my ninth October with a class. October is one of my favourite months in the classroom as it lends room for so many exciting activities. For the past seven years, my class has created some sort of Halloween related show or haunted house at the end of the month. Sadly, I missed one year while I was teaching online. I wonder each year if it is something I am doing because I enjoy the tradition or if students are genuinely interested in this activity. So this year, I asked students if they had any ideas rather than share what we could do.
My class of 27 students all celebrate Halloween so we were all set for a brainstorm session. Here are the ideas my students came up with:
- Escape Room
- Haunted Gym
- Student skits in a classroom
- Student activity centres in the gym
After discussing it with a student-created drama committee, my students came up with student-created skits in a decorated classroom as their favourite idea. Then, we went about discussing how the planning process works. This is what my grade 7/8 drama committee came up with:
- Decide on a date (October 27th)
- Ask the other 7/8 classes if they would like to participate
- Ask permission from our school administration if grade 7/8 classes can show their skits to the other classes
- Send an email to all staff
- Start to advertise our idea
- Sign up classes for the viewing of each show
- Come up with a schedule
Yesterday, my four students who had a meeting with admin. were approved for this idea and were reminded to have a fall activity such as a word search or other for students to work on if they do not celebrate Halloween. As teachers, it is important that we use this opportunity to help students and even challenge them to think critically. With our support/modelling they will recognize the importance of being inclusive when the activities are being planned for all students in the school. We can challenge our students to plan alternatives that are equally valued and engaging and still connected to the curriculum.
Then, we focused on the actual drama part of the project. In our language class, we are working on short spooky stories. My students (along with the other grade 7/8 classes) are working on creating a story where they need to identify the characters, the setting, the problem and the solution. My students presented their plot ideas today to the class and two were selected to be turned into scripts. The rest will be writing short stories and which will be one of their writing marks this term. This was such a fun class activity today as I put on some spooky music and students read their ideas.
During drama class, we came up with seven exciting roles that students can sign up for to be involved in this class project:
- Acting in the shows (there will be five shows total)
- Script writing (working with the students who had their plot selected)
- Sound effects
- Set design (how to transform a classroom into a haunted stage)
- Costumes, hair and makeup
- Classroom sign up
- Advertising the event (email, posters, imovie trailer and announcements)
Almost all of my students signed up for three or more roles and are excited to get started on this right away.
Each year, I look forward to this project so much as it includes so many curriculum connections in all of the below listed subjects:
- Language- writing, media literacy and oral communication
- Learning skills- collaboration
Overall, this is a tradition I really look forward to each year but of course, would not proceed with it if students were not interested. Learning that is integrated like this, with student voice and leadership at the core and has strong curriculum connections does not have to be limited to a holiday or season. A big idea, social issue or other relevant theme helps to connect and motivate the students’ learning. Knowing your learners, who they are and what is important to them will guide you on selecting themes and connections for your students! I am lucky my students want to make such an impact in their school community as each year even in June, I hear students in the halls still talking about the haunted house/stories. I look forward to this year being better than ever as we are not limited to staying within our cohorts, etc. I look forward to sharing about how it went and perhaps even sharing some spooky photos!