Today’s guest blogger is Faith Rivera on the P.S. 112Q Citizen’s team.
At P.S. 112Q, we try to make after-school programs as creative and innovative as we can. Along with homework help and service, we also run enrichment clubs generated by student interest focusing on it being active, academic, or creative. At any given time, our team is running three service clubs and three enrichment clubs, like basketball, school newspaper, recycled materials make music, or a mad scientist club – all of which our after-school students participate in.
But, in January, after much student interest, Maddie Monagle, Ricky Sanchez and I created the Music and Theater Club.
Our school focuses heavily on traditional academics, so students do not begin to academically explore the concepts of music until they are briefly introduced to chorus in the fifth grade. So, in the creation of this club, we sought to change the little that we could.
The first lesson for this unit went so well! We created a colorful “Actor’s Contract” for our list of rules as well as posters for the lesson on the topic we were covering. During the lesson we kept the students engaged and as a result they were very attentive, interested and ready to learn. By the end of the lesson the students were able to create and perform basic one bar rhythmic patterns in 4/4 time using the Kodaly method. We were so proud of them and what they accomplished in such a short amount of time. We ran introductory lessons like this for about three weeks. Some of the first few lessons in the unit included working in an ensemble, rhythmic beats, identifying notes on a staff, stage direction and planned improvisation. These lessons were set as a foundational tool to what the second half of music and theater would look like.
Once the foundational skills were set, we were able to apply them to an actual musical theater script. We decided to use a Dramaterials kit from the company “See the Wish” using the script of “If We Didn’t Care” written by January M. Akselrad. The script teaches valuable life lessons of how important it is to care about yourself, your community, the world, your family and your friends. Thus, we were able to teach social emotional learning (SEL) skills as well.
We ran the second half of the club as if the students were professional actors. We had a script read through, auditions, vocal warm ups, casting and rehearsal. We even allowed the students to dabble in the art of directing by permitting them to give their peers constructive criticism as well as compliments on their acting skills. Both the student directors and actors gained a lot from this experience. The actors took to the comments and modified their performance accordingly while the directors were able to look at a scene with a critical eye.
The students responded well to the unit and really enjoyed being able to express themselves in an area they have not been able to explore before. We were able to see certain students come out of their shell and others let their light shine. Students loved working on a stage and learning what real actors have to do to prepare for a play. Overall, this experience was exciting and we loved every minute of it.