The Arts In Every Classroom: A Video Library K-5
Teaching Theatre Activities and Discussion
Suggested Activities and Discussion
Consider the following additional questions for reflection:
- How can you adapt the “Sorry, I Must Be Leaving” lesson within your classroom and for other subject areas?
- How can theatre be incorporated into the curriculum to teach other subject areas, including other art forms?
- How can you encourage students to recognize the importance of asking questions to extend their learning?
- How does theatre provide a forum for student inquiry that can enhance learning?
Here are some additional ways you can build on the ideas in this program in a variety of school and community settings:
Professional Development for Teachers
- Consider ways you can incorporate theatre-based lessons in your class. How would you plan the material? What resources would you use? How do you think the students would benefit?
- Think of ways that you can use theatre to help make your teaching more effective; for example, to bridge language barriers or developmental gaps.
- Consider how theatre might encourage students to express their ideas or feelings. What would be necessary to develop a basic expression of feelings into a complete work of art?
- Attend a play as a group. Reflect on how the experience affected you. How was the experience different from watching a movie?
- Include a theatre specialist teacher in your planning session. Invite the specialist to help develop a themed unit that includes theatre education.
- Invite an actor, playwright, or director to a curriculum-planning session. Together, identify theatre-based activities that would make the curriculum unit stronger.
- Explore educational outreach opportunities offered by a local theatre company. Do they provide visiting artists or special programs to schools?
- Invite a theatre specialist teacher from your district to talk about how he or she teaches theatre.
- Invite a representative of a theatre organization that provides outreach programs to explain how theatre can enhance learning at your school.
- Invite community members to attend a theatre performance by students.
- Present reflections by older students on how working with theatre has enhanced their readiness to learn or their academic achievement.
- Invite parents or board members to reflect on their own experiences with theatre. How did these experiences enhance their learning?
Program 0 Introducing Arts Education
This program includes three segments: Is Arts Education? What Are the Arts? In How Do You Know They're Learning?
Program 1 Expanding the Role of the Arts Specialist
Three arts teachers work with colleagues around their schools, using collaborative techniques that go beyond the traditional work of arts specialists. Kathy DeJean is a dance artist at Lusher Alternative Elementary School in New Orleans; Mary Perkerson is the visual art teacher at Harmony Leland Elementary School in Mableton, Georgia; and Amanda Newberry is the theatre specialist at Lusher.
Program 2 Teaching Dance
Two teachers with contrasting training and approaches to teaching bring rich dance experiences to students at their arts–based schools. Kathy DeJean, the dance specialist at Lusher Alternative Elementary School in New Orleans, promotes inquiry and self-expression in a multi-grade dance class. Scott Pivnik, a former physical education teacher at P.S. 156 (The Waverly School of the Arts) in Brooklyn, New York, uses African dance as a gateway to geography, writing, and personal growth for a class of second–graders.
Program 3 Teaching Music
Two music specialists from arts–based schools demonstrate different approaches to serving diverse student populations. At Harmony Leland Elementary School in Mableton, Georgia, all 500 students study the violin. Their classes with Barrett Jackson become lessons in character and discipline. At Smith Renaissance School of the Arts in Denver, Sylvia Bookhardt and a class of fifth–graders explore the Renaissance through choral singing.
Program 4 Teaching Theatre
Two specialists work on basic theatre skills with children of various ages, and use theatre education as a gateway to other kinds of learning. At Lusher Alternative Elementary School in New Orleans, Amanda Newberry's lesson in improvisation with a third–grade class stimulates students' imagination, heightens language and listening skills, and encourages critical thinking. At Barney Ford Elementary School in Denver, George Jackson teaches basic movement skills to a first–grade class, invites fourth–graders to take center stage as they explore a script, and works with fifth–graders to create masks that reveal inner feelings.
Program 5 Teaching Visual Art
Two visual art specialist teachers use contrasting interpretations of the human face to explore inquiry–based instruction and various techniques in visual art. Pamela Mancini, the visual art teacher at Helen Street School in Hamden, Connecticut, uses portraits to foster inquiry and self-expression with a class of fifth-graders. At Ridgeway Elementary School in White Plains, New York, MaryFrances Perkins introduces mask–making to a second–grade art class. In making their own masks, students examine the concept of symmetry, study the vocabulary word for the day, and learn that masks are found in cultures throughout the world.
Program 6 Developing an Arts-Based Unit
A team of first– and second–grade teachers at Lusher Alternative Elementary School in New Orleans plans a year–end project that will let students show what they have learned in science, math, and English. The students write and perform an original play, using a painting by Breughel and an opera by Stravinsky as their starting points.
Program 7 Working With Local Artists
Students and teachers at P.S. 156 (The Waverly School of the Arts) in Brooklyn, New York, benefit from the school's established relationships with artists from local organizations. This program focuses on a first–grade class creating original works with visiting artists — a dancer and a writer.
Program 8 Collaborating With a Cultural Resource
A fourth–grade teacher and a museum educator in New Orleans collaborate to develop a unit of study with ties to language arts, social studies, and visual art. Students explore the work of a well–known artist, visit an exhibition of his work, meet for a drawing lesson alongside the Mississippi River, and create poems and pictures that they proudly display to their parents.
Program 9 Bringing Artists to Your Community
Successful collaborations between classroom teachers and artists who come for a residency enrich the curriculum of this rural school in Idalia, Colorado. A visiting actor brings story–telling and vocabulary to life for kindergarten and fourth–grade students and their teachers, while a musician engages first– and third–grade students in writing songs that relate to subjects they are studying.
Program 10 Students Create a Multi-Arts Performance
A team of arts specialists and classroom teachers at Lusher Alternative Elementary School in New Orleans guides kindergarten and fourth–grade students in creating an original work based on Cirque du Soleil's Quidam. The program presents highlights of the creative process, including brainstorming about characters' emotions, creating speech and movement for the characters, constructing costumes, and performing.
Program 11 Borrowing From the Arts To Enhance Learning
To add vitality and context to day–to–day learning experiences, three teachers use techniques drawn from the arts that engage their students' minds, bodies, and emotions. In Denver, a teacher uses rhythm, color, movement, and hands–on projects to engage her class of fourth– and fifth–grade boys. In White Plains, New York, third–grade students create short skits that help them understand the concept of cause and effect. In Lithonia, Georgia, a fifth–grade social studies unit on family history culminates with students using favorite objects to make visual representations of their lives.
Program 12 Three Leaders at Arts-Based Schools
Three administrators provide instructional leadership and solve day–to–day challenges at arts–based schools serving diverse student populations. In Brooklyn, principal Martha Rodriguez–Torres describes her role as "politician, social worker, parent, and police officer," and says that her primary responsibility is to "provide teachers the resources they need to fulfill the program." In Georgia, principal Sandra McGary–Ervin encourages use of the arts to achieve the school's priority goal of literacy. And in Denver, assistant principal Rory Pullens uses his own arts background to ensure that the arts play a prominent role in day–to–day learning.
Program 13 Leadership Team
At Lusher Elementary School in New Orleans, principal Kathleen Hurstell Riedlinger works closely with a Leadership Team of classroom and arts teachers. The team's central role in management is part of a long–term strategy to protect the school's commitment to arts–based learning. We meet individual members of the team and see them work together on a diverse agenda, including the school's annual Arts Celebration, the increased demand for enrollment from outside the school's neighborhood, and orientation of new teachers to the school's arts–based curriculum.