I haven't posted anything since January. It is now July. Fellow teachers, you already know what I'm about to say: life is hectic as a teacher in the spring, no matter how many years you have under your belt.
January brings new challenges in my world: we jump right into our One Act Play contest rehearsals, and that's all I can think about until March. Spring break hits, and I lose my drive. The kids are antsy. It's getting hot outside. They can't bare to turn in any assignments, even the easy ones.
I wanted to write a complete post about how Interactive Notebooks worked for me this year. I took pictures of how the storage area became a mess and stayed a mess all year long even with classroom jobs. I don't even know where those pictures are right now.
Here's the deal with Interactive Notebooks in middle school theatre: The idea is nice, and admin loves it, but it just doesn't work well if that's what you are basing your curriculum around. I found out that I wanted to fit as much as possible into those notebooks, and by February we were all sick of them. I kept supply tubs at each table with glue, scissors, rulers (aka swords), colored pencils and markers. By Thanksgiving they looked terrible and I needed to reorder supplies. Middle school kids will fiddle with everything they see, so those tubs lived on my bookshelf for most of the second semester.
Even though kids kept their notebooks in their class period's bin, they still lost them. (!!!!!!)
I want to continue with the notebooks, but here's what I'm going to change:
Don't fit all the notes into one semester. It's ok to take half the notes one day, the other half the next. Hey, you could even ask kids what they remember to keep them in engaged in the unit! My theatre I kids this coming year will take the same amount of notes, but spread out throughout the year. My need to get them ready for contest makes me rush through the notes and students hated it.
Add more opportunities for students to reflect and evaluate in their notebooks. We had plenty of room in notebooks at the end of the year, so I pledge to give them more opportunities to reflect and evaluate in their own words. I used to be really good at getting gets to evaluate performances and reflect on them. I don't know what happened, but this year I felt their writing about theatre hadn't improved.
My returning students will already have the basic notes from last year, so they will definitely have less writing. (And I can create assignments based on their notes for when I have a sub!!) I packed up all of the notebooks in May, and come August I will unpack them and recycle those who are not in the class any longer.
Another thing that did not work again this year was getting students to do their warm ups. In previous years, their notebooks were warm up books. They would write a paragraph or vocab word as their warm up in their notebooks. Many students didn't do it, or lost their notebooks (in the classroom again), which is why I moved to interactive notebooks and I changed my warm ups. They were a question with a short answer each day, written on a paper Monday-Friday, turned in every Friday. Students did not even do this simple task, and I put them on my website. Many students earned a C because their warm up was a daily grade every week.
Y'all, I even had an entire class that would not do active theatre games/activites, NOR would they sit and do worksheets! They sat and did nothing all year!! I got burned out from trying to motivate this class every day. What can I do with a group of middle school students who don't respond to any type of activity or lesson? I don't like to just put movies on; that's not my style. But every day, that class wore on me.
So, after taking a good long break from even thinking about school, I think I am ready to dive back into it and try to retool my classroom, yet again, because that's what teachers do. We are always trying new things to engage our students and help them grow. I want my theatre students to grow academically, so I will not take writing out of my curriculum. However, I know they need more hands-on, active learning. As a teacher, that type of learning in the middle school environment is hard to monitor and control. I will spend the rest of my summer figuring out how to do just that.
Sorry for the lack of posts.
Sorry for no pictures in this one. (ain't nobody got time for that in the spring semester).
I'm going to direct you to my TeachersPayTeachers page where I have my "Make Your Own Lesson Plan Book" documents on sale until Saturday, and I will be adding more resources to my store in the upcoming weeks, as well.
Ms. Korth's Theatre Classroom and Other Tools
I hope my fellow educators are getting the rest and family time they need to be the best they can be for their students in August! Enjoy the rest of your summer!