Loosening the Reins -- SOL Day 27
My students love to perform.
I've offered a drama unit every single year that I have been in my current job. I don't think there has been any other enrichment unit that students have consistently insisted that I include in our rotation every year.
My students love variety.
So do I. That's one reason why I tend to not offer the same topics more than a few times! Drama, though, gives me the chance to change it up every year. Even though what we DO is the same, the products are completely unique.
My students love to create. I've learned to let go and let them.
The first few years of drama were fun, but gave me no surprises. I picked the scripts. All of them. I wanted to be sure we had plays that would be just perfect for our audience of first and second graders. Not that my choices were flawless. The first year, one of them was an excerpt from Little Women. Sweet, right? Yeah... the little kids had no idea what was going on. Thankfully, we also had some fun and silly ones to share.
Over the past three years, I have loosened my grip. Over the last few years, I gave the kids the chance to write their own scripts. For my 3rd and 4th graders, I did insist that they create adaptations of picture books. We had fun reading lots of great stories and figuring out how to evaluate which ones would make the best plays. With the same amount of time in our unit, giving the kids the chance to do their own writing meant that we had less time to actually rehearse. It was worth it.
This year's troupe was so much fun. Each group spent the past few weeks tweaking the little bits of "off script" additions to their speaking lines. Sometimes they jumped right over the nonsense line - but they were so gracious and responsive to my suggestions. They wanted to keep adding lines and props and bits and pieces right up until the "curtain" rose.
Today, my most recent group of thespians took the stage. They had silly costumes and numerous cardboard boxes for sets and props. It was marvelous! Some of the groups filled their performance with physical humor and sight gags. These, of course, made the primary grade kids roar with laughter. Others thrived on hysterical little aside lines that made us all chuckle in appreciation. I loved seeing each of my kids shine with their own brand of action and humor. For some of them, this was their first taste of the stage. For others, it was their final curtain call as my dragonlings. They all worked hard, communicated well with their teammates, showed initiative and flexibility, and took the kinds of risks that will serve them well as they move on from my care.
These kids, my friends? These kids are something special.
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