Tag Archives: drama

English III: Early American Origin Myths

Native myths 1

Our class text is Prentice Hall’s Literature: The American Experience edition. After having outdated texts for a rather long time, it is exciting to have texts which are actually designed with Common Core in mind. Unfortunately, there is just not enough time in the semester to read and discuss every text, so we have to sort of pick and choose the highlights of each period which make it into the 18 weeks.

{Now, if you are interested in the outline, you can find the outline of the course modules in my TPT store at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Stephanie-Kirk-11}

Alas, the first experience our students had with the text was Native American Origin Myths. We spent a total of two days on this task, spending about 75 minutes a day. We are just coming out of an entire week on an informational text in which we painfully modeled every detail of close reading, answering text-dependent questions with evidence, and completion of a writing task, so I wanted to do something to make the lesson as engaging as possible.

Myths covered:
1. On Turtle’s Back
2. When Grizzlies Walked Upright
3. Navajo Origin Myth
4. Cherokee Origin of Fire (not in the textbook but included because this is used for modeling)

What do I want students to know and be able to do at the end of the lesson?
1. Explain the point of an origin myth.
2. Retell the origin myth.
3. Know what archetype is, identify it in text, and compare it across multiple texts.
4. Know what theme is, identify it in text, and compare it across multiple texts.

How will we get there?
We started out the lesson by reviewing common skills of archetypes, theme, and traits of origin myths. Fortunately I built the PPT in a way that if a student could tell me what it was I didn’t have to go in detail about it, but when they couldn’t remember archetypes I had that built in as well. Overplanning for anticipated difficulties is ALWAYS a good practice because it is better to have a plan for if something does not work than to allow instruction to fall apart because the students just didn’t have the knowledge you thought they should have coming into the lesson.
Anyway, I knew having the students all read every myth was going to be dreadful and boring, and there was no way to make sure that fit in the pacing. So I modified and divided the class in three groups to study an origin myth, draft it as a play, perform it, and discuss archetypes and themes across multiple texts. Students also were assigned homework to complete the reading guide and text-dependent questions, and students were held accountable for this with the included reading quiz for the second day.
Before reading I did a short story preview and vocabulary preview activity in which students reviewed the material and told me what they thought about the selection. This is such a change from when the teacher used to tell the students all about what they were going to read before reading it. By doing a story preview in this manner, curiosity increased and I think buy in and participation was enhanced.
While day one was mostly skills and notes to intro the period, we did have time for every student to complete his/her first reading of the text. The way I assigned the texts was in looking at the student lexile with some thought into the text lexile and the layers of complexity of the story. I printed the reading guides and wrote the students’ names on the page. Students were not given any sign of who their group might be until the second day. To round out the first part of the lesson, I had a canned closer of using a post-it note to create a Facebook status or Tweet based on the assigned story. To review the skill itself, I had students use an index card to write a note to an absent classmate to explain the skills reviewed/learned for the day. As I type this it occurs to me I should do that every day and post the best summary as a sort of learning wall in the room. I’ll get on that Monday.
Back to the lesson… students were to complete the next reading of the text and answer the text-dependent questions on the reading guide. To help them remember and hold them accountable I sent a Remind101 message to all parents and students in the class.
On day two, I reviewed what we had done and where we were going to go next. I created a model of exactly what I expected them to do using a new myth. Considering skills I had them tell me what the elements of drama were and what goes on a script. I showed them the myth and my script. Then I used students to help me act out the skit for the class. This was great because it allowed me to show my expectations and it allowed us to discuss the role of performer and observer in the room. I gave the students time and materials, and then they produced a script and acted out the plays. After each presentation, I used questioning to get the students to think through the patterns, characters, and symbols which repeated throughout multiple texts. As an exit ticket, I had the students use constructed response and text evidence from each myth to argue a theme in all texts.

All in all, this was a fun lesson with the students. It was hard letting go of control but the bottom line was that this lesson was probably the first time since I can’t remember when that I didn’t feel I was the hardest working person in the room. I built in character and team building, behavior expectations, and tiered accountability. If I had it to do over again, I would have revised pacing to include a more thorough discussion of theme of each myth and had some sort of reporting out format for the groups to engage the audience in talking about archetypes and themes rather than having to lead it myself. But, judging by the output, the students are good with being able to give a theme. Finding the evidence is something I need to build in future lessons for additional modeling and practice.

From American Literature Module 1: Beginnings to 1800 as featured in my English III course. The text referenced is Prentice Hall’s Literature: American Experience Edition.
If you are interested, these documents can be found at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Native-American-Myths-Prentice-Halls-Literature-American-Lit-EDITABLEKEYS-843374

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Twelve Angry Pigs

With so much success accessing prior knowledge of drama, I have decided we can effectively use one play to go over dramatic elements and then review plot a little. This sets us up to move into poetry, a section which typically takes a bit longer than one might expect, relatively quickly. I’m jumping ahead there though.

For 12 Angry Pigs, I started out by using the Common-Core story preview task I have talked about before. Hopefully, by the end of the semester, the students will be able to preview following my steps but without me guiding them. After previewing the text, I gave a short bio on the author, Wade Bradford, and we started reading. To pick roles, I had cards made for each pig. Students picked their role based on the pig they liked the best, and we then set the classroom up as a jury room with the desks in the center. The first time, students were instructed to just read. Since it is short, we were able to reread for questions and discussion. It was nice having the ability to take the time to do that because it allowed us to do more critical thinking and analysis of the text.

At the close of the section, I gave students a short cloze-style quiz. This mini-unit was more memorization that anything else, but the students did well on the quiz. We will revisit a few of these concepts in a few weeks when we prepared for the unit exam. All of our unit exams are cumulative, and the students will have a short play to read and interpret on their own for the real test of the knowledge.

And we will bring drama back around in the weeks following the EOC to look at Romeo and Juliet so I’m feeling pretty confident about this set of skills.

Now… to prepare for poetry.

1. Drama and Archetype with Twelve Angry Pigs can be found at http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Drama-and-Archetype-Twelve-Angry-Pigs-with-keys-adaptable-doc-and-ppt.
pigs 1

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Introduction to Drama

In my experience, students do well with most skills pertaining to drama. They recognize the visual form of a script and the importance of stage directions. For that reason, I use this as a moment for plot reteaching.
To make sure the students are familiar with elements of drama, I start with having students look at the prose and drama version of a text. We then use observation to compare the two literary forms. The students loved “Thank You M’am” (Hughes) so I rewrote it as a play. This allows reteaching of plot because they created plot maps and characterization of TYM and can pull from those experiences. Plus, it is relatively quick to read dramatically, so it fits in the same day as the Intro to Drama lesson.
My power points are generally set up to be able to skip information or go deeper when needed, and I have given images to help student visualize theaters and types of discourse. I admit it has become one of the lessons I enjoy much more than many others because the students really get into it.
With the new text, I had the students complete C-notes and we used that as a starting point. In all, pacing worked out perfectly. Our Exit Tickets showed students were able to at least define all major elements pertaining to drama with only minor confusion between soliloquy and monologue. Here’s the trick to that: Soliloquy = Solo on stage. Monologue = dialogue for the mono.
For content, we will read two short plays: Bloody Mary and 12 Angry Pigs. (Where is Romeo and Juliet? We actually save that one for the two weeks of school after the EOC. This works because we are in an area with much gang activity, and we use the Jedi mind trick of intentional ink colorations to get students interested. Works EVERY time.) Under the PARCC Model Content, our extended reading is To Kill a Mockingbird. 12 Angry Pigs goes well thematically, but Bloody Mary is just fun.

To be more user-friendly, I have decided to list these items individually and with a bundle. For now, here is the introduction. drama 1
1. Introduction to Drama: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Introduction-to-Drama-Elements-of-a-Play-Adaptable-doc-and-ppt

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