Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Bumper Crop

A run-down of my classes, now that I have one week of school under my belt:

Period 1: Advanced Drama
22 Students: 9 Males, 13 Females
Grade 10: 10
Grade 11: 6
Grade 12: 6

I fought the battle last year for a class to be created that had Introduction to Drama as a prerequisite.  This class is my reward.  With one exception (a senior who took drama as a freshman under the former teacher), the students all know me, my expectations, and my procedures and they all want to be in this class.  Boy, that makes a difference!

Their first production is going to be Much Ado About Nothing (as I continue to steal glean from my productions at DPJH).  There were some groans when I said we're doing Shakespeare ("He's boring!" they exclaimed.  "Not true!" I said, "Didn't you see Macbeth last year?"  "That's the only good one," they reply stubbornly), but we're watching the Branagh version right now and it's winning them over.

Period 2: Planning Period
1 Student (Female, 12th grade)

I prefer to not have student assistants during my planning period because
1) Often the work I need them to do is computer-based, as is the work that I need to do during that time, and
2) I like having some time to myself during the day.

This semester, though, given the choice between having an assistant during my plan and not having one at all, I quickly chose the former.  Fortunately, she's a smart, capable, and very mature senior who doesn't need hand-holding or a constant stream of tasks to keep busy.  Yay for that!

Period 3: Introduction to Drama
14 Students: 7 Males, 7 Females
Grade 9: 7
Grade 10: 2
Grade 11: 2
Grade 12: 3

Check out that grade distribution!  Talk about a diverse class.  I was worried about the spread when I first saw my roster - seniors can get snotty about being in classes with freshmen.  Happily, one of those seniors is the class president and she's probably the nicest, sweetest person I've ever met (I had her for Humanities and she was in last year's musical).  She sets the tone for the class, and it quickly became a goofy, playful group who tease, joke with, and encourage each other.  Yes, sometimes those jokes are of the bathroom variety (6 of those 7 freshmen are boys), but we're working on that.

My assistant is in this class too, and I gave her a stack of script catalogs the other day and asked her to look through them for plays that sounded like fun for a group our size.  Within five minutes I heard her say, "Oh, we HAVE to do this one!"

It's called Harry's Hotter at Twilight.  It's a silly, fluffy, stupid spoof of Harry Potter, Twilight, and a bunch of other things.  It calls for minimal sets, super-easy costumes, 10-50 actors, and the kids both on and off stage are going to eat it up.  It's not my taste in theater, but I'm convincing myself that it's okay to pick an easy show once in a while.

Period 4: Speech
22 Students: 7 Male, 15 Female
Grade 9: 6
Grade 10: 13
Grade 11: 1
Grade 12: 2

This class is so different (i.e. better) than last year's speech class!  Last year's class was mostly made up of kids who
a) were taking it against their will,
b) were absolutely terrified of the idea of competing in public speaking, and
c) loved to create a lot of teenage sturm und drang out of absolutely nothing (Oh, the tears!)

About half of this year's group is in my Adv. Drama class as well, almost all are GT kids, and they are so excited about speech.  I'm starting off with Poetry Interps.  I sent them home Wednesday with the instructions to find a poem that "tastes good in their mouths".  Many of them complained the next day about how long it took to find such a thing, which I take as a sign of what great students they are (staying up late to find good ones rather than grabbing the first one they saw). We then played with the poems  - milling and seething around the room, acting out the punctuation marks, calling out the best words and phrases, standing in a circle and creating a new poem by each person reading the best line from his/her own poem, etc.  They played along, they debriefed with great insight, and they understood what I meant when I talked about delicious poetry.

In short, I have terrific classes this term, and I look forward to playing with them each day.  How wonderful that is!

The after school stuff is starting, too.  I've met with the speech seniors already, and they declared their desire to get team ponchos instead of team hoodies this year.  I told them if they could find customizable ponchos for under $25, it's a go.  To their disappointment, they failed at that task ("They wanted $300 for an authentic Peruvian poncho, Ms. W!), so they'll have to break the news to the whole team at our first official meeting Monday.

Jesse and I also finally picked a musical for the year.  I do think it's the best choice for our group/community, but I'm still reluctant because of the technical demands.  It's one of those big-budget spectacle shows and we are short on funds and on spectacle (aside from the leftover fake blood, swords, and flash paper from Macbeth, that is).  I have no idea how we'll pull it off yet, but it seems like there's two options:
  1. Do our best to replicate the original, knowing that we have very little budget to do a big-budget show, and hope the audience isn't disappointed when it doesn't measure up; or 
  2. Put an entirely original (low-budget) spin on it, knowing that the audience will criticize it for not looking like the original.
I don't know which way we'll go yet, but I know the kids will be ecstatic when we announce what it is, and I'm certainly looking forward to that.

1 comment:

  1. Chelcey Flanders10:59 PM

    Yay for much ado :) i love it oh so very much!