Yay! Blake Education’s new ‘Australian Readers’ Theatre’ series has arrived from the printers! It’s been great fun working as series consultant with editor Vanessa Barker and publisher Lynn Dickinson and to have six plays included alongside those of the talented Sandie Eldridge, Catherine Bauer and Elizabeth Klein. It’s a great series (all photo-copiable) with lots of Australian humour and drama. No primary school should be without a copy!
From the Blake website:
“A Reader’s Theatre performance is a dramatic reading without the need for stage actions, or elaborate sets and costumes. It provides teachers with an opportunity to stage a play without the challenges that come with designing and building sets and creating costumes.
Each book in this series contains 10 photocopiable Reader’s Theatre plays written by Australian authors covering a wide variety of genres. Each play has ACARA curriculum links and Teacher’s Notes with information about:
- the script’s plot, characters and setting
- introducing the play – main topic, characters, ideas
- vocabulary discussion and list of tricky words
- interpreting the story
- rehearsal and stage movement
- performance and staging ideas
- post-play review
Photocopiable assessment checklists for pre-performance, peer evaluation and oral performance assessments are included, as well as two worksheets for each play.”
Book Cover – Australian Readers Theatre Lower Primary
Australian Readers’ Theatre – Lower Primary
Book Cover – Australian Readers Theatre Middle Primary
Australian Readers’ Theatre – Middle Primary
Book Cover – Australian Readers Theatre Upper Primary
Australian Readers’ Theatre – Upper Primary
This year’s theme for World Radio Day was ‘Radio In Time of Emergency‘.
I developed this drama unit for Year 5 & 6 around that theme with a focus on improvised dialogue, characterisation and structure.
The lesson sequence is based on the 5Es teaching model, familiar to many teachers from working with the Primary Connections science modules. I find the structure admirably suited to drama units with its Engage / Explore / Explain / Elaborate / Evaluate cycle.
The full unit plan with Australian Curriculum outcomes and a pdf of Emeregency Scenario cards can be downloaded below.
- Develops shared norms
- Determines readiness for learning
- Establishes learning goals
- Emergency radio samples: Hindenberg, Nepal, aircraft landing.
- Emergency / disaster photos. Improvise a radio broadcast as the different scenes appear.
- Mime using different radios – hand-held, walkie talkies etc.
- Prompts inquiry
- Structures inquiry
- Maintains session momentum
- Emergency situation cards: short scenarios of amusing emergencies.
- In groups, leader improvises the scene as the rest of group mimes the action.
- Swap: group mimes as a ‘reporter’ improvises the narration of the action.
- Presents new content
- Develops language and literacy
- Strengthens connections
- World Radio Day: discuss the themes.
- Share the World Radio Day UN video.
- In groups, respond to the themes – create a short scene demonstrating each. Emphasis on serious responses.
- Hot-seating: journalist, refugee, radio broadcaster.
Elaborate Facilitates substantive conversation
- Cultivates higher order thinking
- Groups select a scenario for broadcast eg. Nepal earthquake, bushfire, refugee, bomb threat, flooding.
- Students develop a script. Characters include broadcaster (DJ), reporter, ‘involved civilian’.
- Recording of script, editing with sound effects, music, voiceovers.
- Assesses performance against standards
- Facilitates student self assessment
- ‘Braodcast’ of radio programmes.
‘Compass Rose’ received a promo in the March / April edition of Stage Whispers.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff story lends itself marvelously for drama explorations. With only two characters ‘on-stage’ at any one time it’s also ideal for small-group puppetry. This download is a set of character silhouettes that are ideal for use as shadow puppets. Just cut the shapes out, glue on sticks and away you go. Students could also make additional scenery (eg. the entire valley) to expand the basic lesson setup.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff: Shadow Puppets
The Three Billy Goats Gruff: Preview
You can find more lesson plans here:
You can find scripts here:
Videos are here:
My current middle school performing arts unit is on Film Sound and traditionally students demonstrate their knowledge of Foley sound by recording a short video and adding sound effects to it.
This year we’ve utilised the rich diversity that is youtube and made use of the many silent movies, musicless videos and bad-lip reading videos available.
PS. Please watch the sample videos below before using with your students.
There’s any number of silent-movie era films on youtube. The Charlie Chaplain films are particularly useful with clear, well-defined action and readily followed plots.
My students practised their Foley skills by creating sound effects live as the video played on a laptop. The video and sounds were recorded for playback on an iPod. A little crude but quick and surprisingly effective.
Musicless Music Videos
It’s easier to explain this new mashed up genre by watching one. But for a short explanation:
- Select a music video.
- Remove the music soundtrack.
- Add sound effects as appropriate.
Similar to the Musicless Music Videos, but with dialogue rather than sound effects:
- Select a short scene from a film, sports training video or TV show.
- Remove the soundtrack.
- Re-dub the dialog with words and phrases that match the lip movements of the actors, but which are funnier.
All three activities have proved popular with the students and all provide an excellent framework i which to practice or demonstrate skills.
Australian Curriculum Links
- Develop and refine media production skills to shape the technical and symbolic elements of images, sounds and text for a specific purpose and meaning
- Plan, structure and design media artworks that engage audiences
- Experiment with ideas and stories that manipulate media conventions and genres to construct new and alternative points of view through images, sounds and text
- Develop and refine media production skills to integrate and shape the technical and symbolic elements in images, sounds and text for a specific purpose, meaning and style
I’ve been using the Lego Movie Maker app with our students for a while now.
The app is free (yipee!) and although it’s a bit clunky in places it’s proven a real hit with children from ages 6-14.
If you do any stop motion animation on the iPad or iPhone give it a go. And feel free to download the manual I put together for our school.
Lego Moviemaker Manual
First term is program writing term. With existing courses in desperate need of alignment, I used the information on the Australian Curriculum site to create a short, easy to read summaries of the relevant Music Skills & Knowledge and Drama Skills & Knowledge. The summaries are in pdf format; contact me for the editable Word documents.
R-8 Drama Skills & Knowledge
R-6 Music Skills & Knowledge
My good mates at Maverick Musicals (who publish my musicals) have just updated their website and what a beauty it is!
Now, I must admit to nostalgia for the old site, after all, I designed and coded it, learning FrontPage, asp programming and design along the way.
But there was no easy way to bring this very 90’s looking (and functioning) site into the 21st century. And I was the first to admit that it was beyond my abilities, especially the web-payments side of things.
But Queensland web designers Fig Creative have risen to the challenge and delivered a crisp, clean, modern and easy-to-navigate website that’s a delight to use.
Maverick have always had a reputation for great customer service and the new website reflects this totally. If you’re a school looking for a show to put on, you won’t find a better range anywhere.
Just like before, you can download free samples of every play, musical, theatre-restaurant and classroom resource. But now you can order direct from the site for immediate dramatic-gratification. Play information is more readily accessible and there are clear descriptions of copying fees, royalties and performance costs on each page.
The old site did us well for many a year, but I’m so proud to see my musicals up on such a fantastic site.
Well done guys!
Compass Rose & the Birdnesters
It is the early 19th century and Queen Victoria is on the throne in England. An ocean away in the far Pacific, the HMS Shearwater, with famous explorer Captain McAlister at the helm, is nearing the mysterious Island at the End of World’. Locked in her cabin for disobedience (and not doing her homework) is his wanna-be explorer daughter, Constance Rose.
Already on the apparently deserted island is ex-pirate Captain Jack Daw and his crew. They’re birdnesting – collecting rare bird eggs for a rich baron back in England. Since this is against the law, they hide themselves as soon as the navy ship is spotted.
Constance escapes from her cabin, rows to the island and goes exploring. Unfortunately, the first thing she discovers is her father and the crew. After a lecture on following orders, she’s locked back in her cabin. Captain McAlister informs his crew of his secret orders; to capture the birdnesters reported in the area. Lookouts are posted, a cannon set up and the botanists start collecting animals.