STEPPENWOLF FOR YOUNG ADULTS EDUCATOR WORKSHOPS Big Impact: Teacher Theater Immersion Course Course Description and Curriculum Sample Lesson Plans Course Description Steppenwolf for Young Adult’s Immersion Course is a professional development program that exposes teachers to a curriculum of principles and pedagogies using techniques to create theater arts. By using tools to integrate theater into the classroom, teachers will learn how to be more creative in their teaching of core curriculum, moving away from traditional models of lecture and testing towards participatory and active learning. The Immersion Course teaches educators the following four main principles from the theater arts that can be implemented into the classroom to help improve student academic achievement: . . . .
• Warming Up: Focusing and Preparing to Learn • Ensemble Building: Creating Collaborative Learning Communities • Exploring Theme: Making Personal Connections • Performance: Presenting to Others
These principles are taught to teachers through tools and techniques that Steppenwolf artists themselves use to make theater. These tools include a variety of creative exercises that can be adapted and used in the classroom. Each tool builds specific skills that enable students to work in a collaborative environment and to become better readers, writers and speakers. Teachers learn to sequence these activities into tangible lesson plans that are incorporated into the classroom to foster a fresh teaching approach to the curriculum. New in this next year of Immersion, Steppenwolf will take the Big Impact: Immersion Course program directly into Chicago Public high schools. Our intention is to reach more teachers within a specific school community while engaging teams of teachers from across curricula in learning how to integrate theater arts principles in the classroom. In the process we will foster deeper relationships with our school partners. Each Immersion Course is taught by a Steppenwolf teaching artist. In addition to teaching specific tools and exercises for the classroom, the teaching artist facilitates the group’s development into a learning community. Through the Immersion experience, the teachers will build a team that can work together to solve problems that they encounter in the classroom, to learn collaboratively, and to guide and support each other. These learning communities then serve as models for building collaborative learning with their students by using the tools they acquire in Immersion.
Also during the Immersion Course, the teaching artist will identify a Lead Immersion Teacher from among the participants who will be the primary contact in an ongoing partnership between Steppenwolf and the Immersion teachers.
Curriculum Based on Theater Principles Every classroom of students contains a diversity of learning styles. Lesson plans for each Immersion Course will include activities that address each type of learner: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Utilizing theater principles and tools in the classroom supports this goal, as theater is a composite art form – comprised of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements. These principles and tools are designed not as diversions from the curriculum, but rather as supplements. Many of the tools and activities covered in Immersion address several of the Immersion principles (and Illinois Professional Teaching Standards) simultaneously. For instance, a warm up activity may have the effect of focusing students to engage in the day’s lesson (IPTS: Learning Environment) while also serving to build ensemble in the classroom (IPTS: Collaborative Relationships), and strengthen presentation skills (IPTS: Communication Verbal and Non-Verbal). 1.
Warming Up: Focusing and Preparing to Learn – In theater the warm up serves as an instrument to get a group of people playing together, to focus and energize, and to create a sense of comfort in the collective doing of specific and structured activities. Teachers are able to take this principle into the classroom and through the use of specific tools use it to stimulate students’ imagination, focus their energy towards preparation for learning, and release students’ minds of tension or anxiety. Warm up tools, or activities, include physical stretches, breathing exercises, vocalizations, visualizations and writing exercises. Example Tool: Pass an Object Students stand in a circle and pass from person to person different imaginary objects, working together to establish and maintain each object’s size, shape, and weight. Maintaining the size, shape, and weight of objects requires great commitment and close observation. After beginning with relatively easier objects, such as a basketball ball, a teacher can take this farther and ask students to pass objects from a story or historical text. Skills Fostered by Warming-Up Tools: Concentration Sensory awareness Listening Quick Thinking Group Building Trust
Ensemble Building: Creating Collaborative Learning Communities – Steppenwolf is dedicated to the value of ensemble through the collaboration of a company of artists. In theater, ensemble is a principle that refers to the united working and performance of an entire group. Immersion will take this principle of ensemble and create learning communities in schools – teams of teachers working and learning together. This teaching community serves as a model for the learning community each educator will create in the classroom with their students. The principle of ensemble allows for team building and empathy to be fostered. Working “in ensemble” results in a classroom environment that celebrates diversity, cultivates individuality and allows for risktaking. Ensemble tools, or activities, are done in small or large groups and include movement, physical, problem-solving, writing, and story-telling exercises.
Example Tool: Group Observation Walking Students are asked to walk around the classroom. Everyone should be aware of the entire group as they move. Students are given three actions they can do – i.e. stop, drop to the floor, or run to a wall. Educators give directions for only one action at a time. If someone stops the whole group should stop and then start again together. If one person drops to the floor they all drop, etc. This exercise is about being aware of each person in the room, and trying to move collectively as a group. It should appear as though the group is beginning and ending these actions together. Then students are asked to follow the actions of just one person. This is done by each student making eye contact with another student and then beginning to move together. At any time a student can leave their partner, make eye contact with some one new, and begin to move with this new person. Skills Fostered by Ensemble Building Tools: Learning to be both a leader and a follower Working collectively in a group Putting others ahead of the self Problem solving with others Critical Thinking
Exploring Theme: Making Personal Connections – Through thematic inquiry theater artists explore a piece of theater or art in depth and find contextual, historical and personal meaning. This principle of thematic investigation and personalizing of material is essential for the classroom. It applies when working with a piece of literature or historical text as well as to understanding science and math concepts. Teachers first guide students in a creative inquiry of a text or subject matter and then through the use of specific tools help student find themselves in the material. This allows students to understand a specific concept or idea’s relevance to their lives and results in a deeper engagement and higher level of comprehension. Tools, or activities, include reading, writing, movement, vocalization, interviewing, improvising, script making and performing exercises. Example Tool: Image Gallery/Character Creation Teacher chooses images, photographs or works of art, that relate to a text, concept or lesson being taught. These are displayed throughout the class room in an image gallery for students to walk around and view. For a History teacher images might include photographs from the period being studied, while for a math teacher images may include representations or mathematical concepts as seen in everyday life. After viewing, each student chooses one image to work with. Individually students create a character that is either present in the image or inspired from the image and write a monologue, or speech, for that character. In this monologue students must express a specific opinion that is in relation to the subject matter being studied. Students then recite these for their classmates. Following the presentations a facilitated discussion takes place, exploring how these characters relate to the subject matter being taught and how they relate to the students’ own lives. Skills Fostered by Exploring Theme/Making Personal Connections Tools: Reading comprehension Cognitive thinking and understanding Empathy Giving and
Taking (A practice wherein students voluntarily give and release focus in collaborative reading, performance, and discussion activities) Interviewing skills Storytelling (organization of ideas and content) Writing skills (creativity and clarity) Presenting skills 4.
Performance: Presenting to Others – The final piece or act of theater is to perform with and/or for an audience. When applied in the classroom students learn how to express ideas with confidence and clarity both as an individual and within a group. Performance tools, or activities, address organization of ideas and content, expression, vocal support, articulation and posture. Example Tool: Interview Performance Students are asked to interview a person who is not a family member or close friend about a subject matter, i.e. If reading House on Mango Street a teacher could ask students to conduct interviews about identity in relation to the neighborhood one grew up in; or if studying heat transfer in Biology a teacher could ask students to conduct interviews about awareness of radiation and how one’s actions affect the environment. Students then take their interviews and organize the material into a creative presentation. This presentation is rehearsed and performed in front of an audience. Skills Fostered by Performance Tools: Comprehension Organization of content Presenting ideas with confidence and clarity Expression
Examples of Lesson Plans for Use in Classrooms Implementation: Halfway through Immersion: Big Impact, teachers will be asked to design a lesson play using the principles, skills and tools they have garnered throughout the course. The following sample lesson plans demonstrate the Immersion Course’s interdisciplinary functionality – one lesson plan is taken from a high school Science class and is based on a lesson plan devised by a participant in the spring 2009 Immersion Course. The other is from a high school English class.
Science Class Lesson Plan: Understanding Atmospheric Heat Transfer Using the Four Immersion Principles
Objective: For students to grasp the concept of heat transfer and its profound importance in human life using arts integration techniques.
Background: There are four different types of heat transfer the students should understand:
-Radiation: the transfer of energy through electromagnetic waves. -Conduction: the transfer of energy that occurs when molecules collide. -Convection: the transfer of energy by the flow of a heated substance caused by density differences. Principle 1 – Focus: Preparing to learn Teacher warms up students using the pass the clap. The game not only focuses students and stimulates creative energy, but it also illustrates the concept of transfer. Principle 2 – Classroom Connections: Ensemble Building: Students break up into small groups and choose one type of heat transfer (radiation, conduction or convection). Each group works together to form a tableau of their assigned heat transfer. The tableau can be mobile or stable, but should physically bring to life the given concept. Principle 3- Personal Connections: Students Find Themselves the Material A representative from each small group volunteers to narrate the importance of this type of heat transfer as it relates to human life. Groups can personalize the tableau by morphing it into a short skit about why this type of heat transfer is essential to human life. Principle 4-Presenting to Others: Exercising Skills of Public Performance Each group then performs their skit/tableau for the class, as a representative from the group narrates. Teachers evaluate the presentation not only on content, but also on the students’ ability to synthesize the materials and present coherently to the class. English Class Lesson Plan: Exploring the House on Mango StreetUsing the Four Immersion Principles
Objective: Students will comprehensively and personally understand the themes and ideas in The House on Mango Street by exploring the text through arts integration techniques. Background: -This lesson plan is designed for a class that is currently reading The House on Mango Street as part of their core curriculum. -During the Immersion Course teachers will delve into many themes found in The House on Mango Street, including: identity, citizenship/immigration, and what is means to be a Chicagoan and an American. Principle 1 – Focus: Preparing to Learn The teacher warms up the class with the opinion circle game. One student stands in the center of the circle and states his/her opinion about a certain aspect of the book, and the surrounding students switch places in the circle based on whether or not they agree with the statement. In addition to stimulating the creative energy in the room, that game pushes students to form opinions about the text. Principle 2 – Classroom Connection: Ensemble Building
The students break up into small groups. The teacher gives the class one main theme from which to work (i.e. the theme of identity in The House on Mango Street). Working with each other in small groups, students create a tableau (or frozen picture using their bodies) inspired by the theme. Principle 3 - Personal Connections: Students Find Themselves in the Material Sticking with the theme of identity, students write a brief personal narrative (or monologue) during which they detail a moment in their lives when identity suddenly became important. Drawing personal connections to The House on Mango Streetâ€™s main character, students freewrite on this topic to discover similarities and differences between themselves and the literary character. Principle 4 â€“ Performing for Others: Exercising Skills of Public Performance Students volunteer to read their personal narratives out loud to the class, demonstrating not only their writing skills but also their ability to speak in front of the class with vocal projection, content clarity and confidence. Another level to this exercise includes bringing back the small ensemble groups from Principle 2, to shape another tableau inspired by a single studentâ€™s personal narrative.