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It never fails, after every performance done by my Theatre students, I hear the countless accolades. “Your students are so talented! You do such a great job with these kids! This program adds so much to our school!” We receive all praises until the performance is forgotten. I am then back in the same position I am in at the end of each school year. I have to justify why my class is necessary
What is my value? When asked this question, I want to shout, “Remember “A Raisin in the Sun”; “Cyrano”; “The Jungle Book”?” I quickly decide against shouting so as not to be deemed the typical temperamental artist. I then begin to tout the advantage of a viable arts program in middle school. All arts programs from music to visual arts to theatre are important and sometimes even vital to the survival of students everywhere, but today I will only talk about theatre.
I know that most schools do not have theatre programs. As a matter of fact, most people spell the word “theater” (only the practitioners spell it “theatre”).
I think this is a sad statement because this class is one way for Language Arts teachers to meet the Common Core standards. How can this be? Common Core has a standard for speaking and listening in the classroom. To sum up this standard, students need to be able to participate in conversations with different people and effectively communicate their point. With the advent of popular culture and with celebrities who have invented their own language, this can be a daunting task. There is not enough time in the day to teach the fundamentals of literature, grammar, composition, AND speaking and liste
ning! This is where I come in. In order for students to be actors and actresses, they must learn to communicate various points of view (another Language Arts skill). They must learn to speak so they will be heard and understood.
Not only is speaking a theatre skill, but listening is too. A perfect example of the need to listen is when another actor flubs a line. In order to keep the production moving smoothly, the actors in the scene must be able to pick up the mistake and recover the scene without the audience knowing that a problem is happening. This listening skill could result in the lines being recovered or in a bit of improvisation that builds on the new idea being presented.
These are just a few ways that Theatre Arts can help with the bottom line of core educational content. However,I hear you; this still doesn't solve your problem. Your school doesn't have a theatre program. No problem! You can start an after school Drama club where you play theatre games that teach the fundamentals of good speaking. Another option is to incorporate reader’s theater into your Language Art class. This is a way to “sneak” the art of speaking and listening into your lessons in a fun and interactive way.
If you want help implementing the Common Core Standards, consider adding Theatre to your teacher toolbox. This will definitely make your classes more interesting and improve your student’s scores on standardized tests. Happy performing!
Image via Act On Info