Integrate Theater to Differentiate Instruction
Joan Weber - Saturday, February 5th, 2011
Who Am I? Where Am I? What Am I Doing? This important element of character development in theater has tremendous potential for application in the social studies classroom. Arts integration develops empathetic learners who become personally connected to their subject matter. Integrating theater into social studies brings the subject matter to life. Students are engaged.
Below I have provided two examples of how I have integrated theater into the 6th grade Maryland State Curriculum when students study ancient Greece, though the Socratic Dialogue can be used in any classroom. These techniques can be modified for any curriculum. I hope that you give these ideas a shot. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post your results in the comments section.
Using the method of Who Am I? Where Am I? What Am I Doing? Students develop characters who would have attended lessons with Socrates. (Students must understand the social and political structure of Athens in order to develop these characters.)
Move the desks into a semi circle with chairs in front. Students sit on the desks and on the chairs in front. The teacher assumes the role of Socrates. The students assume the roles of Athenian students. The teacher must emphasize that all participants in these groups were men. Only men were citizens of Athens.
The teacher engages students in a question and answer dialogue with students. The teacher never answers any questions, but rather furthers the discussion through close questioning of students.
Applications: This technique may be used to explore ideas more deeply. It may also be used as an assessment tool. The students must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the content areas in order to meet the demands of the activity.
Again, utilizing the method of Who Am I? Where Am I? What Am I Doing? Students randomly choose a Greek god. They will assume the role of this character for the remainder of the Ancient Greece unit. They complete a character worksheet (identical to one an actor would complete during character development). This requires research into the god, his/her stories and powers.
Writing Application: Students re-write the myths of their god from the point of view of the god. How would the story be different?
Writing Application: Students transform their stories into short plays to be performed by the class.
Acting Application: Students assume the character of their god and participate in a staged meeting of the gods of Olympus. Zeus presides and the gods work through a pre-set agenda in character.
Acting Application: Students perform the play version of the myths while participating in a Dionysian Festival.