Summit Academy – History through Drama
Last week we had an opportunity to document a little of what’s happening in the Exploring History through Drama residency for 8th graders.
Exploring History through Drama
The level of growth we’ve seen among the middle school students over the course of the past couple of years, during 4-5 residency programs, has exceeded expectations. At the start though, students were reluctant at the new approach and school staff expressed concerns that the students’ concrete thinking would
be a challenge to imagination and improvisation.
But now, class groups are actively learning, taking the floor as characters from history and genuinely enjoying themselves inhabiting scenarios that have shaped American and world history.
“After they completed their first performances and learned what to expect from the process, they really blossomed,” said Hallie Dizdarevic, Lead Artistic Associate with CTC and instructor who’s spent several residencies working in Summit classrooms.
“Students who, last year, could only repeat lines whispered to them, are now improvising with no help at all. They are providing colorful details to their scenes with giant smiles and loud voices,” said Dizdarevic. “During our most recent residency one class even chose to skip their recess so that they could rehearse their play instead!”
Mr. Bryant, a middle grades teacher at Summit, sent CTC recent media clips from current events that tie back directly to the antebellum history his students are learning. “What your team is doing is not only relevant but it is so important to students who are not auditory learners! So many of our students struggle to learn by listening but learn quickly when they role play or act out the subject.”
“I love that the students are excited to see us when we enter the building,” said Meg Caudill, Artistic Associate with CTC. “At the beginning of last year, there were some students who were initially hesitant about the programming, but now that we’ve visited on multiple occasions, they know what to expect and often ask us, ‘When are you coming back to OUR classroom?'”
“They’ve developed a sense of trust with their classmates and you see that when they perform their scenes,” said Caudill. “They cheer for each other and are willing to jump in and do whatever is needed to make sure the scene goes well. One student in particular has grown from being too shy to speak in his scene to stepping up to leading the group in his performance.”
“It’s been amazing to see them come out of their shells and enjoy getting to perform with their peers.”