We love pairing unexpected topics in our classes. And this lesson fits perfectly in that category. I know. it seems crazy, but just read along and you'll see how this can really work!
When you hear drama club, what comes to mind? I immediately think of a Glee-esque group of Broadway fans, quoting Hamilton relentlessly while they burst into song at the drop of a hat.
Trying to start a club like that seems like an impossible feat. And it is. Things like that don't exist. What does exist, however, is the possibility to have a productive, engaged group of students rallying around what they love to do good for themselves and others.
Our arts departments are often less funded than some of the other departments in our schools. It is hard to think that many athletic programs spend tons of money while we have to hold a bake sale to buy books and scripts, but it often happens. I have been fortunate in the last few years to have an administration that has worked with me on our budget so that it is more comfortable for us, but we have gone through years where we did lots and lots of fundraising.
UIL, otherwise known as the University Interscholastic League, has a long standing history here in the Lone Star State. Did you know it's the largest interscholastic league of its kind in the world? We're quite proud to be apart of this community. For more history directly from the source, read up on UIL here.
UIL has two main categories: Athletics and Academics. While we love sports, our main focus is on Academics.
If you've been around the block of Texas OAP, you know Regional competition can make or break an entire year's worth of work. And who determines your fate? Judges! Here's the brand new announcement from the UIL office on the 2017 Regional One Act Play Judges.
Who here "casts" their stage manager? If you aren't, you should be. This role is vital, vital I say, to your production. And requires some careful consideration.
Determining who my stage manager will be for a show is just as important as casting the lead roles. Maybe more so. I'm going to walk you through the process of 'hiring' your stage manager so you're show is as successful and efficient as possible!
We know we're just now recovering from the State UIL meet, but the new judge list is here! Below are the 2017 judges for the State UIL meet.
As educators in the public school system, practically everything we do is noted, measured and reviewed. The focal point of all this data is goals. Finding clear, concise and measurable goals can be hard for any teacher, much less arts teachers!
As an English teacher AND theatre director, I've had my fair share of run-ins with the Bard. He and I have come to know each other well, onstage and in the classroom. While I could devour Shakespeare's work over and over again, I know it can be a little stuffy for younger students- especially those who don't care for literature in the first place.
It wasn't until about a year ago I even really knew what Twitter was. I had heard about it vaguely through my students and my daughter and assumed I was too far removed in my generation to need any more information about it. But I was so very wrong!
Like I said in this last post, stage managers are insanely important to your show! They are the backbone to your tech crew and the director's right hand. Because of the huge role they play (pun intended) I created a handbook especially for stage managers to help them keep your show organized and running smoothly.
So when I give them this handbook, I also like to brief them on their duties and what I expect of them. Here's my list of topics I cover during my ad-hoc Stage Manager Orientation.
Teachers have known for decades that movies are the ultimate go-to when you need a low-key class day. But for theatre classes, they can do even more. The movies we've chosen below were all plays before they became films and make the perfect pairing to a script study in theatre classes. Let me know which script/movie pairing is your favorite!
This is by far one of our most loved shows. There's so much depth and hurt along with big characters that draw you in. Willy Loman is the ultimate American archetype of hope, narcissism and failure. With a strong lead actor, this show can be incredibly powerful.
Most kids are always nervous about auditions. Some are nervous about speaking in public at all. Terry and I have spent many years developing an audition process that invites all kinds of kids while at the same time helps us to evaluate the top actors and singers in the school.
This summer has been quite different for me as far as my normal back to school routine. Normally, I go up to the school a little here and there throughout the summer and try to keep things going, organize my room for the first few weeks of school, do some research for lesson plans, make copies, etc. I really like to be just about ready to go when in-service starts so that my stress level is down and I can turn my eyes toward my students and getting our fall show together.
This is a little out of character for the blog but we thought this was pretty interesting! Below are visual representations of some of the top produced shows in UIL One Act Play.
We're so glad to be getting a break. That final home stretch of Spring UIL was killer. While relaxing and catching up on my DVR'ed shows are my top priorities, I'm also preparing for next year's UIL season. Here's what you should (and shouldn't) worry about over the summer.
**Keep in mind I'm the OAP director, Prose and Poetry coach as well as the Academic Coordinator for my high school, so some tips may or may not apply to you.**
All kids are at least a little bit nervous to perform in front of others, even if they don’t want to admit it. Our best actors were once newbies, and shy ones at that! We have come up with a few strategies to help students overcome their fears through directing and teaching techniques.
We're back at it with Twitter! I really can't get enough of this fabulous tool in my classes. While planning for English classes, I realized I can translate my Twitter strategy from this post to my English lessons. Here's how I'm going to test the critical thinking skills of my students with Twitter.
One of the most disheartening things we can deal with as theatre teachers is parents that don’t support us or don’t take our program seriously. Sadly, lots of parents believe that if you don’t carry a ball while you do it, it isn’t important. And living in Texas, where football is religion, the arts almost always take a backseat to sports.
Musical theatre can be so daunting—Can I really teach kids to sing? Can I teach choreography? Of course, you can!
For most musical comedies appropriate for high school students, the singing is not as important as you might think. If you have a couple of good singers, you can pull it off. I have done musicals for twenty years now, and most years I have maybe two kids that can really sing.
If you're a speech coach, you've probably been waiting with baited breath on the new categories. Us, too! We went all the way to Austin to get the scoop just for you. So here they are, in all their exciting glory.*
Well, maybe just my "town" that consists of all teacher friends. We're all in the midst of a huge learning curve to take on this new program.
Here's where my biggest problems have come up: I don't teach a core subject.
It's no secret that we love podcasts around here. Have you seen our products page? But seriously, we can't get enough of them. I listen to them as I work in my classroom, on long car rides or just for fun throughout the day. But my favorite way to use them is to share them in class. I think it helps engage the students (and makes them think I'm in-the-know with digital stuff!) as well as taking some weight off my shoulders for lesson planning. I can just focus on discussions and learning and leave the production to the great podcasters out there!
I absolutely love period shows. As a matter of fact, anything from 1900 through the forties is my favorite. Some of my favorite shows from this time period that I have directed are Death of a Salesman, These Shining Lives, The American Clock, and To See the Stars, just to name a few. Once I have chosen a show from a specific time period, I need to go to my costume closet first to see what I have on hand.
Are you going to state this year? If so, congrats! Also, fair warning: the State UIL meet is insanely stressful. Trust us, we've been there. We know newbies and veterans alike could use a little crash course on making it through the contest. Here's our best advice.
We all know the placement of your performance at state makes a huge difference in your chances at winning. And here's the stats to prove it! We analyzed the State One Act Play results from 1992 to 2016 and found the chances of ranking in the top three for each performance slot.
If you're reading this, you probably just came from our workshop at SummerFest 2016. Thanks so much for coming by. If not, you might have just stumbled here in a happy accident. Equally exciting! Without any further ado, here is the list of stuff we covered in our workshop along with the links to all the free downloads you'll need to boost your actors' characterization through digital and social media!
We're here at SummerFest 2016 with all the amazing people in the Texas theatre community. The conference has been so rewarding. The workshop we care about the most, Luis Munoz's announcement of the new rules, was this morning. Here's the scoop on all he announced in case you missed it.
This year's OAP competition was insane! We couldn't get enough of some of that talent. Anyways, we know what you're here for! Here's all the results so far. We will update 3A and 6A tonight when they are announced.
Whew!! I just walked out of my T-TESS pre-conference, and I feel much better about the process. Of course, I was stressed and worried about how it might go. I've been fixating on it for a while now. As many of our readers know, handling T-TESS in a non-core subject is hard.
Just mention critical thinking in an English class and you'll get an audible groan from your students. Really, try it out. It's discouraging when you know students are bored of your lessons. But I've found the solution that has seriously changed my entire teaching strategy. While planning for English classes, I realized I can translate my Twitter strategy from this post to my English lessons. Here's how I'm going to test the critical thinking skills of my students with Twitter.
If you've taught theatre for even 5 minutes, you know getting some kids to open up can be an uphill battle. The easiest way to not only ease into the school year, but also break the ice with new students, is to play these fun games in class to open up communication and get creative juices flowing.
Here are a few things that might be fun, get kids on their feet, help them get to know each other and you without being too cheesy or embarrassing for shy kids or new kids to your school.
One of the most daunting parts of the Prose and Poetry is writing your own introductions. It's tricky, time consuming and if you don't do it right, you might not meet the required criteria to perform your piece. We wanted to set the record straight on how to write these vital pieces to your UIL performance.
The headline is a little daunting, right? I know it sounds like a crazy technique, but it's really easy! I promise. Whether you're teaching journalism in the classroom setting or perhaps for a UIL competition, we've found a creative way to push your students imagination while also building journalism skills.
If you’re like me, one of the toughest decisions you make every year is choosing a show. It is hard for me to choose my fall show/musical, but the craziest decision I make each school year is what show I will do for one act play.
I’ve been asked many times over the years questions like, “how did you find that show?” or “what made you decide to do that show?”………and so I have thought about it quite a bit. I came up with a list of things that I consider each year.
Who else is totally obsessed with Pinterest? *raises hand sheepishly*
It's such a great resource for teachers and we thought you should know exactly where to go for amazing ideas. So here's our favorite Pinterest boards covering English class, lesson plans and more.
We're always on the hunt for some costume inspiration. Where better to find it than movies and television? Here's our (ongoing) list of our favorite sources of costuming inspiration.
We're counting down the days to the beginning of the school year! We've been at school for inservice the past few days and today was a big one: T-TESS Preparation.
If you are a teacher in the great state of Texas, you will know what we're talking about. T-TESS stands for The Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System. It's the latest program to monitor and evaluate teacher and student progress in the classroom.
We all want our students to have something great to strive for, work toward, and be a part of, especially when you are from a small school like the one where we teach. I am sure if I taught at a large school, I might feel the same way but for different reasons. At any rate, bringing a group of like-minded kids together to work towards one goal is something we all enjoy watching.
For a while I've been using Twitter to test my acting students' ability to create characters. Then it finally dawned on me: Why am I not using this in English class? So I tweaked the Twitter strategy I use in theatre to help map character development in literature. While planning for English classes, I realized I can translate my Twitter strategy from this post to my English lessons. Here's how I'm going to test the critical thinking skills of my students with Twitter.
Getting used to the T-TESS system is enough work as it is! And we were tired of hunting down all the different documents, forms and presentations we needed to get it done. So we've compiled all the T-TESS resources we could find to help teachers have a one-stop-shop for all things T-TESS.
Invitational meets are some of our best little tricks to prepare kids for real UIL competitions. We always try to go to at least 3 or 4 before the district meet. But what about running your own? Don't be fooled by these huge schools that run meets with hundreds (or even thousands) of kids. At one point in time, they were just starting out like you!
We're always trying to figure out new, innovative ways to test our actor's abilities. And here's our latest one: using a thesaurus to strengthen your characters and acting.
Yes, it may sound crazy but it could be the technique that stands between you and a fantastic show!
It is that time of year. You have finished up your fall show, and the holidays are approaching.
The plan now? Get your spring show cast before the holidays so you can rest easy!
A classic of American literature and stage, John Steinbeck's story makes gritty ranch hands seem like so much more than the sum of their parts. The trio of Lennie, George and Candy make a relatable group of misfits just trying to hold on to one bit of happiness. And who leaves the scene with Crooks with a dry eye?!
Costuming sometimes has to come at the last minute, especially at a small school where you are the director, choreographer, English teacher, academic coordinator, and costumer all at the same time. I have been guilty in the past of throwing costumes together the week before district competition and just adding details as we advanced. But I've been fortunate enough lately to have two costuming classes built into my teaching schedule.
If you've been following the blog for a bit now, you know we teach in Texas. And the latest hurdle Texas teachers are jumping through is the T-TESS curriculum planning system.
One of the big tactics of the T-TESS program is to get teachers to plan and measure themselves as well as the effectiveness of their lessons. And it's difficult! Trying to nail down every little detail of how a lesson will or won't shape a child's education can get tedious and overwhelming. So we've created this easy-to-use worksheet packet for all you teachers out there to use.
While I was writing the last post about what my department does to raise money, I was dabbling in some research via Pinterest. I realized it might be useful to hear my ideas, but it would be even more helpful to have a complete list of ideas for all kinds of school and departments, not just the theatre. So here's my round up of 17 ideas I found that I think would be incredible fund raisers for your school and organizations.
We've all heard of the typical acting tactics- Meisner, Hagen, Stanislavski. These are classics for a reason. But I've found that working with high school students requires a little more novelty. While the study of these legends is incredibly important to a well-rounded acting education, a little fun never hurt anyone. So we've compiled our favorite, weirdest and maybe most unexpected acting techniques that have worked wonders for our actors over the years. We hope you have fun with them!