Friday, January 9, 2015

Arts Integration Ideas- Historical Monologues

One of the major pushes in Education right now is Arts Integration. Theatre is one of the easiest Fine Arts subjects to integrate. Throughout this blog I will talk about several ways to use theatre to enhance Common Core Curriculum. Today I want to talk about one of the first arts integration lessons I did. This lesson is my go to lesson when I need to show off my students in an Educational Setting. My students have presented this lesson in front of our Superintendent and all the principals in my county. All to often the "higher ups" in the county view theatre and other Fine Arts subjects as fluff. This assignment helped change the minds of the "higher ups" in my county. Hopefully you can use it to help change people's minds as well.

Historical Monologues


I would partner with your History or ELA teacher in doing this project. Since I only see the kids once a week for 40 minutes partnering is a must if I want the students to write anything. They just don't have time to in my class. 

Step one- have the students bring their history books to class. I then have them search through the book to find a historical person that inspires them. (I typically base this assignment around Black History Month but you could easily focus on any other topic you wanted to- presidents, women, heroes etc).

Step two- once the students have chosen their person, have them research specifics about that person. Depending on your time limits and the age of your students you can either create an outline for them to complete or simply have them write their five favorite facts .

Step three- have the students choose  their person's most exciting life event (Rosa Parks on the bus, Abe Lincoln before Gettysburg, etc) 

Step four- teach the difference between a monologue and soliloquy. Have students choose if they are going to write a monologue or soliloquy. 

Step five- allow students time to write a monologue from their historical person's point of view. Remind students that the soliloquy needs to be written in first person pov and they need to include what the person is thinking or feeling. If they are writing a monologue it still needs to be in first person but they should be talking to another person. Most of your students will probably end up writing soliloquies and that's great!

Step six- Once the monologues are written it is time to begin the rehearsal process. When students are rehearsing I like to set up rehearsal centers so that they can focus on individual aspects of their piece. I have also had students partner up to rehearse or you can simply embrace the chaos and let all the students rehearse together. If you are new to teaching or an English/Social Studies teacher who is not use to allowing rehearsals in the room keep in mind it will get noisy. I like to set up some basic rules (no talking to other groups, no wandering from your general area, etc. )You might want to keep a noise meeter in your room to warn kids if they get to loud. You could also take them to a gym/ outside area where they have more space to spread out. In my experience since the students know that they have to perform the piece they typically use the rehearsal period to their advantage with very little silliness. Make sure you tell the students before they start if their monologue has to be memorized.

Step Seven- Perform monologues for the class.  I would tell the students that they can dress the part if they want to . These performances typically turn out very well and all of the students learn things about the other famous historical figures as well.  When you have your performance day make sure you talk it up. You might even want to invite another class to come and watch the performances.

Step Eight- Grade the performances. Make sure you check out my Theatre Rubrics at the teacherspayteachers store. The rehearsal, script writing, and acting rubrics can be very useful in determining grades.
Arts Integration Social Studies ELA Theatre

Make sure you keep a copy of the student's monologues that you liked. That way you have any easy demonstration piece for an observation or showcase.  Parents and teachers love to see kids participating in cross curricular activities and this is a wonderful chance to show your teachers what the students know.

Alternative Assignments:
Living Wax Museum- This is one of our favorite assignments at my school (and the kindergartners and first graders are the performers for the older students). Follow the exact same instructions for the lesson. When you reach step six have all of the students report to the gym. Give each student a "Button" to place in front of their character (Red Circle cut out of construction paper usually works well). All the students must then freeze in an exciting pose behind their button. When someone steps on their "button" they come to life, say their monologue then go back to freezing. This is a great assignment for other classes to come participate in. This is also great for students who get stage fright because they are only performing in front of one/two people at a time.

Literary Characters- You can use this same assignment but have the students create monologues for the book characters you are reading. Bonus points if they have to use so many sentences from the book.  Great say to engage the students in the reading.