Due to all of the weather cancellations at RPEMS I've had a bit of a rocky start in the classroom. The first lesson went well--I met my B day kids and I introduced the three fairy tales we would be adapting our one act plays from, we picked apart the texts and had great class discussion. In all, I think for the first day things went very seamlessly. The kids seemed interested and I certainly was excited to return next week and give the same lesson to the other group of kids. The next week I met the A day kids and they proved to be slightly more challenging. The class is a little bit bigger and they have a lot of energy, which is really wonderful especially since a goal of this semester was to have the kids act out their own plays, but I am still learning how to bridle in that spirit so class time can be as productive as possible.
Week 2 we worked on character development and how to write believable dialogue. I gave the students a list of questions (some introspective some innocuous) just to get the kids in the mind of their character. Having them answer questions forced them to think critically about this new person they were creating and stressed the importance of knowing the character inside and out because that is what would allow the dialogue to be believable. At the end of the class period we talked about the importance of setting and its influence on the dialogue of a scene, so I chose three random situations and mixed and matched the students' characters together and had each group create a dialogue based on a situation of their choice. Some groups got to perform, which was a nice way to end the period, and I think on the whole everyone enjoyed acting/listening to the works of their peers.
This past Tuesday I taught my A day kids again so the lesson was a little rough (it was International Day at school so I think the kids were anxious to get to the festival and not extremely tuned it to our class). I started off writing down some guidelines for general play writing and then some points to keep in mind specific to writing one act plays (one location, smaller cast of characters, takes place in one day/ a definite time frame etc.) I wanted the students to use the rest of the class period to work on writing. Keeping in mind their plays would need several drafts, I thought it was time to start putting things down on paper. Needless to say a lot of the kids had issues getting started, and staying focused and on task. Behavior will be an issue for this group of kids, so I think I am going to try a new approach for my next lesson. I see the same group again right after they come back from spring break so my plan is to bring in a one act play for us to read and act out together so they understand visually what a one act play looks like/ how long it is (a lot of students thought a one act play could be completed within one page front to back). Then we'll work backwards--take the play and write a summary of it in prose form so they can understand the relationship between lines of dialogue and sentences of a story. Perhaps then they won't feel so overwhelmed writing lines of dialogue. I also think that will help ease the process of adapting a story into a play. I will also be handing back whatever they turned in to me on Tuesday, so my comments should help give them direction as well. We'll see! I'm excited to get back into things in two weeks and hope that the lesson runs more smoothly.