Monday, September 28, 2015

Middle School Theatre Arts: Teach Every Procedure

Let's face it: middle school is tough.  It's tough on the students, parents, and teachers alike.  It really does take a special person to reach out to these kids and be their champion.  How can you make life easier in your middle school classroom?  Teach every procedure!

I use CHAMPS, as most schools do these days, from Safe and Civil Schools.  Students need to know exactly what to do, down to every specific detail.  Take the entire first week of school to go over your procedures.  I know, it's exhausting going through this seven times a day, but they really need it and going over these procedures will help your classroom run smoothly so you have time to focus on individuals in your classes.

I created CHAMP posters for 4 classroom situations in my theatre room.

1. Instruction CHAMP. For those days when I'm teaching and they are note-taking.

2. Group Work CHAMP. Most of my curriculum is group-based, so we spend most of our time working in groups.

3. Rehearsal CHAMP. Middle school students do not know what it means to practice, especially theatre.  This will help you teach what rehearsal should look and sound like.  I also use activity rubrics as daily grades to make sure they are following this CHAMP.

4. Performance CHAMP. Audience etiquette!!  Super important for in-class performances, also for outside of class!

I use interactive notebooks, so I had them write the CHAMP poster for rehearsal in their notebooks.  Now, when I say, "Rehearse your monologue" they know what they should be doing.

I added these documents to my TeachersPayTeachers page: Ms Korth's Theatre Arts Classroom

I'm also going to upload these files in Theatrefest Friends on Facebook.

Remember to display them in your room and refer to them before you start.  It also helps to stop a lesson midway through and "Champ it out" if it gets out of control.  I use these procedures to document discipline, as well.  If a student habitually disobeys one of the CHAMPS, then I start them on the discipline track.

Cheers and happy CHAMPing!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Middle School Theatre Arts: Grading Made Easy!

I realize that my last post about Theatrefolk podcasts seems a bit rushed.  It was very rushed; I tried to blog on my conference.  HA!  I tried to be productive on my conference; imagine that.  I've decided if I'm going to write a coherent and helpful post I should wait until I'm not at school.  Also, we've started our musical (Legally Blonde, Jr.!) so I'm hoping my posts won't disappear.  No promises.

I had an interactive notebook quiz last week with all seven of my classes.  In the past, they were quizzed over their warm ups and it was a disaster.  I would ask what the entry was for four different dates and they would be writing the entire period and many failed because, let's face it, middle school students do not do warm ups.  My school loves them, and I do, too, because they help to focus the kids and give them a task to do before and after the tardy bell so I can deal with issues before we start each class.  Anyway... I don't want my kids to fail and putting so much weight on a warm up was not efficient.  Instead, I am quizzing them on their interactive notebook.  It's an open-notes quiz, and multiple choice.  Instead of writing the entire period, they fill in a bubble on an answer document.  Instead of spending too much time grading, I hold the answer document up to the camera on my laptop and it grades it for me!  How, you ask?


This little website is amazing!  First you must create an account.  I always use my school information when creating an account, that way I will always know it.

When you log in, your dashboard looks like this:

You must add all of your students.  This seems daunting, but many gradebooks have an export feature.  My district uses GradeSpeed and this link is on the left.  You must click this link for each period and section you teach.  It will automatically go to your Downloads folder.

In GradeCam, click on Classes and add a new one.  Import your students through the file you created and hit next until they are all there.  Do this for every class.  It seems tedious, but it's worth it.

Once all of your classes are made, create an assignment.  Make sure you create a key that is accurate!

To print forms for students, click on Forms.  There are different options for the choices and such.  I printed four copies, then cut and taped them to one paper and made several copies from there and use a paper cutter to cut them.  Saves paper.

When students take the quiz or assignment, they must bubble in their GradeCam ID, which is the same as the last four digits of their ID that was imported with your roster.  TIP: have them also write their name on the top.  We know them by name, not numbers.  So much easier when handing back.

Students can use pencil or pen.  When you're ready to grade, click on the assignment and correct class period, and hold the answer document up to the camera until it makes a little noise. Viola!  Graded!  When I enter them into my district gradebook, I make each browser small and put them next to each other and just enter the grades.  BAM!  They are done in a few minutes!  I cannot express how much time and paper and stress this little tool has saved me and it's only been one quiz!

For absent students, I place the class set of the questions with extra answer documents in a labeled folder in the dish rack I have next to the bookshelf.  When a student presents me with an excused slip and asks what they missed, I can easily give them the documents and they can take the quiz in the hall.  I can grade it in seconds and the grade is saved online to enter in later.

This can be used for quizzes, tests, take home assignments, etc.

We all need more time, and GradeCam gives us a bit more in our busy educator lives.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Middle School Theatre: Easy Professional Development!

This will be a quick and simple post, and maybe more of free advertising.  One of my favorite things to do while on my conference period is to put on a theatre podcast in the background as I work.  Theatrefolk has amazing podcasts just for drama teachers.  Thank you, Lindsay Price, for these little gems.  I also download a few on my phone for the trips to Houston during the holidays to visit family.  Even if it's something I may already use in the classroom, it's good to hear other perspectives or hear other drama teachers doing what I'm doing.  Most of us are the only drama educators on our campus, and most of the time our administration taught core subjects and stay away from the arts.  I find this podcast to be helpful and I feel supported.  We are not the only ones!

My absolute favorite podcast has to be the Mission Statement lesson.  I used this podcast to create a lesson plan for my advanced class in which they created a mission statement for our program.  Here's our mission statement:

You can find the link to the podcast here.

What podcasts do you like to listen to as theatre teachers?