Part A: Weekly Blog Entries
As a regular part of Drama 10.20.30, students keep journals to reflect on classroom experiences, comment on student work, and track their rehearsal progress. I have exclusively used pen to paper journals, submitted in duotangs, with students using time in class or at home to complete their entries. The only one that commented back to the students were myself and that involved me carting 90+ journals home to read. There was no cross-flo between the students or outside readers to support the student learning.
From my own learning use of blogs this semester, and my new knowledge of kidsblog, I have created three classes one for each level of students, to be used my students. The classes are empty as I currently am not in the classroom. Drama 10, 20, and 30 will each have their own class. I will maintain each class all year long so each semester’s students can comment on one another if they desire. I have made the settings to allow me the accept comments and entries before they are published. This is to alleviate any untoward work from being posted.
In a theatre setting, students do not have computers readily accessible so in order to mediate this portion of their course work, I will book the computer for each of the classes on Fridays so that they may submit their entries and comment on one another’s. Students are free to write additional entries from home, or other computers but in order to permit equal access for each child we will write in class. Some of my students do not have internet at home, or must share the computer with several siblings, so writing in class continues to foster the sense of community and equal access for all students.
I will comment on student journals each weekend. This will be easier for me to monitor student progress as all I need is a computer/internet access to write back to the students. I am excited about this opportunity to work with students in this manner. I will also approach my current staff, and professional learning community to comment on student work. I am considering the possibility of involving parents in writing comments as well. In Drama class, parents don’t always have the opportunity to participate in daily learning via tests/essays/homework so this would be a positive way to connect the dots in the student, parent, and school triad. I may need to have a parent meeting, and lab time to show parents around the kidsblog site, and provide samples of entries for them to comment on. I may also create sample comments or phrases to get the parents started in responding to the blogs. Many parents at my last school were English as a Second Language learners so they would appreciate such supports.
Students will be given weekly prompts to assist them in their journal writing. It may be a quotation that relates to the work we have done that week, or a photograph or artifact. Additionally, students will be given a hand-out with phrases to assist them in making comments and connecting to one another. As the semester progresses and students become more comfortable with the process, fewer prompts and scaffolding will be needed.
The evaluation of these blogs will be two-fold. One aspect will be on the blogs, and the secondary part will be on the ways students comment and connect to other bloggers in class. Thanks to my colleague, Angela, she has shared two such rubrics for me to use. I will share these samples with my classes and adapt them as per the needs of each class through group discussion. These samples can be found:
Part B: Skype Guest Artists
One challenge I have encountered in my Drama class, is lack of funding to bring in guest artists to meet with my students. There is something special about the lived experience of professional artist meeting with students. I want my students to be able to ask questions from practising artists about their specific craft, training, and career opportunities.
I will begin with whole class presentations (Q&A) with guest artists and then move into small groups with students interviewing and chatting with someone that relates to their current project. Students will be prepared in advance for the speaker visits but not every minute of each presentation will be programmed so that there is room to move as the conversation leads and as time permits. As the smaller groups interact with the guest artists, there will be more opportunities to share their own work for critique and conversations from the artist.
I have secured some unique guest artists for my classes thus far. I have one professional writer, a sound engineer, theatre producer, artist director, stage manager, professional actors, costume designer, make-up artist, and director. I have also made connections with a couple theatre arts schools, event planner, arts administrator, and fight choreographers. I am excited to embark on this new adventure with my students in the fall. So much can be learned through the mentorship and insights of practising theatre artists. Thank you to the people who have been reading my blog and suggested guests or volunteered themselves for conversations with my students.