May 3, 2012

What if I teach English like I teach drama?

Talking with my coworker about engagement frustrations, I couldn't help but think about how every one of my drama students gets their lines and blocking down and ready by opening night, every time.

What if I teach English like I teach drama?

Every 6-9 weeks students are working on a unit project. At the end of that time is a "performance date." They will prepareto present their work to an audience of friends, family, and peers, in the theatre, under stage lights. It would almost be like our own TED event, in a way.

If they wrote a story, they would tell us a story. If they wrote a research paper, they would present and discuss their research.
Parents would PAY $3-5 a ticket to come see it, or pay what you can for low income populations.

If students had nothing to present, or it's terrible, we send them out on stage, regardless. Not to shame them necessarily, but for them to know what it's like to not meet your deadlines and requirements.

Parent attendance is NOT tied to their grade, but we'll heavily encourage it to support their students.

They would be engaged and motivated though their learning and by being able to share it with a loving, supportive audience, AND the desire to not disappoint. Students could easily do pair, group, or individual work.

In a low income schools tickets could be pay what you can. I'd do the "shows" at 6:00 still to make parent attendance easier and more likely.

I would love it if you have any feedback or thoughts on this. Maybe not every 6-9 weeks. Maybe once a semester lighten the workload?

Leave a comment!


Anonymous said...

If it is something you really want to pursue, then I recommend once a semester, so twice a year. That way students can prepare and know what is coming by having in class presentations to their peers and then it would feel more official at the end of the semester. They can dress up formally and be ready for their big day.-S.Russell

Jeff Russell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Russell said...

I think that it would be RIDICULOUSLY cool.

The important thing is that we treat it like something that they should be proud of. Something that is worth people taking the time to see. A big event. That's why the stage lighting, multi-media presentations, sound effects, whatever they need, we get them together and do it.

The thing that I want to avoid is having this seem like every other mundane presentation that the students have done. I hear that this sort of thing is done at High Tech High, but I wonder if it's to the extent that I'm thinking...