Friday, February 6, 2015

Interactive Notebook Ideas for Middle School Theatre Arts

I'm in my third year of teaching middle school theatre and finally feeling like I'm not constantly drowning.  I've had my students complete a bell-ringer/warm up assignment in a notebook for the last two and half years so they can learn concepts and focus on theatre while I take care of housekeeping tasks and learning is still happening.  I've decided my goal for next year is to implement interactive notebooks in my classroom and change the formatting of my bell-ringers.

Interactive notebooks are not new to me; I saw them in use by the wonderful elementary teachers I worked with as a special ed assistant.  I recently took a workshop at TETA Theatrefest about the notebooks, which sparked my interest.  I love colors and note-taking, but I also see how some kids don't like this.  I, however, feel it would be a great way for them to learn concepts and complete assignments without loose-leaf paper.  It can be something they are proud of with drawings, colors, and stickers.

I kept the notebook I received at the TETA workshop and I started creating sample lessons for middle school theatre at all levels.  Below are some of the ideas I've come up with:

Here's the cover.  I know; it's simple.  The workshop instructor made a good point when she said glued on images fray and fall off through the year.  A simple cover with the student's name and class period works.  These notebooks should be kept in the classroom, sorted by period.

These two pages showcase a lesson about how our bi-annual speech tournaments work in my district.  I used foldables and sticky notes to have students understand how sectioning works and which events to pick.  I always have them create a goal they want to achieve so they can focus on that as they prepare for the tournament.

This is a Theatre I lesson on stage directions.  Have them paste in the grid and fill it out as a class.  You could use stickies and foldables, as well.

 The above photo is a section about the UIL one act play unit set pieces.  I teach in Texas, and UIL one act play contest = life!  My job at the middle school level is to teach them the basics and give them experience with the contest before they go to high school.  Our district contest is competitive and so much fun at the middle school level.

This is a lesson teaching the critique process for theatre, musicals, and film.  Later in the notebook I can have them write a page-long, paragraph form critique based on this lesson.

Envelopes are a fun idea! Students can keep show tickets in one throughout the year, and in this improv lesson they can keep character idea cards for when we play improv games.  I also includes foldables for CROW and the Four Rules (Tina Fey!) of improv.

You can also use foldables for Character Analysis, External/Internal Characteristics, The Rehearsal Process, playwrights, careers, vocabulary, etc.

I know several teachers on my campus deal with warm ups and bell-rings differently.  Some flip the notebook over and have them record the warm ups in the notebook that way.  I've created a weekly template to use next year. They will keep it in their binder and turn it in every Friday.  When it's graded they can cut out the warm up template and glue it on the next clean page in their notebook for reference. Open notes quizzes can be given.

I've seen the idea of sawing composition books in half for smaller notebooks, and I think I will do that for rehearsal notebooks for my after school shows.  They are small enough to keep with their scripts and they don't need a ton of space for their individual notes.

Bookmarks can be added with tape and a ribbon on the back cover.

The possibilities are endless with interactive notebooks. There are plenty of free resources online, especially Pinterest.

Happy notebooking!