If you're looking for time-saving tips for teachers, you can use enrichment activities to engage students, create a nurturing and passionate classroom (and let's face it, impress your colleagues). Hear from former Fine Arts teacher Missey Head as she shares her top tips on how this can actually work in practice.
As an overextended theatre teacher, I desperately needed time to complete duties as assigned, attend meetings, organize supplies, prepare lessons, and complete production tasks. After many failed attempts, I finally discovered the best option for maximizing teacher planning time and implementing a strong instructional model for students to be actively engaged in challenging and differentiated activities.
When I created and implemented a weekly enrichment program, I was fortunate enough to have a subscription to Digital Theatre+. The support Digital Theatre+ provides in content, user experience, curriculum development and education is invaluable. As a teacher and administrator, I swear by it.
My enrichment program, divided into three categories, includes ongoing lesson plans/assignments earmarked for every Monday and Friday of the school year. Having a “set” lesson plan or assignment in place reduced stress and provided additional time to focus on other tasks. The following information further describes the program, categories, and guidelines.
Theatre Enrichment Program
The school week is divided into three designated categories as described below:
|Theatre Enrichment Project (ongoing weekly assignment) *See additional information below.
Theatre Appreciation Friday (ongoing weekly assignment)
*See additional information below.
Access Digital Theatre+ to watch or listen to:
This portion of the week is totally up to the teacher. I used this time to:
As you can see, Monday and Friday are reserved for ongoing weekly assignments. Tuesday through Thursday is designed for focused instruction for new or ongoing units, techniques, skills, concepts and/or time for rehearsal, performance or miscellaneous projects/activities.
Theatre Enrichment Project
The Theatre Enrichment Project is a weekly assignment/presentation due every Monday (with the exception of holidays or exams).
By completing this weekly project, students are able to:
- Acquire foundational knowledge and skills on their own, rather than being limited to teacher-led instruction.
- Learn strategies and resources for researching topics/content and developing presentations.
- Incorporate peer teaching as a resource for learning.
Theatre Enrichment Project Instructional Guide - Assignment: Students select, research, and present theatre content.
Step 1: Select subject, topic, or resource.
Step 2: Research selected item.
Step 3. Document learning and research materials by completing the Theatre Enrichment Project Form.
Step 4: Prepare a two to three-minute presentation to share research which must include one or more of the following:
- Internet sites
- Video images
Available Research Resources:
- Digital Theatre+
- Internet (various sites)
Note: Students are encouraged to research a variety of topics, subjects, and content including but not limited to the following ideas: Sample links to content on Digital Theatre+ can be found below each idea.
- Theatre Architecture
- Theatre History
- Scenic Design
- Costume Design
- Lighting Design
- Sound Design
- Types of Stages
- Professional Shows
- Special Effects
Theatre Appreciation Friday Instructional Guide
Theatre Appreciation Friday was developed to:
- Provide access and opportunities for students to observe and experience professional theatre.
- Provide a variety of literary genres.
- Teach academic content and provide broad exposure to theatrical concepts, ideas, and technology.
Assignment: Students will watch a portion of a play, scenes, monologues, soliloquies, or content featuring theatre practitioners. While watching the video, students will complete a watching guide and participate in a focused discussion.
Grading - Grading for these assignments was completed during the class. Students received a grade of 100 for completing the project as assigned or a 0 for an incomplete project. Grading is up to you.
Although time-saving strategies for ELA teachers might differ from the strategies a theatre teacher uses. The following example can be edited to fit the scope and sequence using designated categories of your choice.
|Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Literature and Performance Appreciation Day.
Access Digital Theatre+ to watch or listen to:
In this case, Monday through Thursday are reserved for ongoing weekly ELA instruction, and the title of Friday's lesson can easily be changed to reflect the needs and scope of the ELA instruction. Consider using the title "Literature and Performance Appreciation Day”.
Literature and Performance Appreciation Day
Literature and Performance Appreciation Day was developed to:
- Provide opportunities for students to observe and understand the relationship between literary skills, critical writing and analysis, and the practical, aesthetic, and symbolic elements of performance.
- Provide students with an understanding of how language, culture, and context determine meaning.
- Provide opportunities for students to explore and discuss the impact of texts within different cultures, time periods, and genres.
Assignment: Every Friday, students will watch or listen to a portion of a play, scenes, monologues, soliloquies, or poetry. Students will complete a watching guide and participate in a focused discussion.
Grading - Grading for this assignment was completed during the class. Students received a grade of 100 for completing the project as assigned or a 0 for an incomplete project. Grading is up to you.
Notes for Appreciation Day:
- Most of the time, my students watched a show in its entirety. Expect to spend at least two to three weeks viewing a production. If necessary, I added an additional viewing day. To vary the viewing experience, I often selected options we could complete in one day. Schedule the “one-day options” between showing the full productions.
- Peruse the Discover, Explore, Assess: 42nd Street - Teacher Notes found on the Digital Theatre+ website. This valuable resource provides an excellent example of what I refer to as a “Watching Guides”.
The strategies I have recommended were extremely successful in my classroom. I would like to leave you with a few recommendations relative to Theatre Enrichment Mondays:
- To keep students engaged in this ongoing assignment, coach them on the side and encourage them to search. You may need to create a contest or add "extra" points for the students who bring in the most interesting research or topic. My students were very competitive with each other in this way. This healthy competition kept them engaged and interested in something that could get "old" very quickly.
- On a few occasions, I took full responsibility for presenting the content of the drama enrichment day. This gave the students a break and allowed me to model and present something really special. No matter what, I never deleted or suspended this assignment.
- Encourage students to complete multiple assignments at once to stay ahead or save time.
- I often encouraged my students to complete three or four of these weekly assignments at once. By using this strategy, they also reclaimed time that they could use elsewhere. It was a win-win situation for everyone.
Note: I have included a sample of the Theatre Enrichment Form and presentation we used. Feel free to use or edit as you see fit. Access the form here.
Teachers, I encourage you to implement this program. In addition to providing effective time-saving strategies, this program, along with the resources provided by DT+, ignites student potential, engagement, and learning.
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