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I’ve long been interested in the power of drama to inspire social change. Playwrights have often doubled as opponents to social injustice. There are many stand-out examples: Vaclav Havel, Luis Valdez, Augusto Boal.
When I introduced the idea of social change to my students, we first asked an important question: Why is it so hard for people to change their opinions or behaviors? The answer, I think, goes something like this: People rarely think about what has always been the case, no matter how crooked it is. There’s an old parable I told my students. Two fish are swimming in the ocean. They swim past an older fish that greets them by saying, “Hey boys, how’s the water?” The two younger fish swim on a little way, and then one of the fish turns to the other and says, “What’s water?” We rarely reflect on what’s always around us.
Drama allows people a chance to step out of the water of their situation and see it at an objective distance. The power of drama is rarely in the straightforward declaration of ethical principles, but rather in the creation of an opportunity for people to talk about what they are otherwise inclined to ignore. The purpose of drama, Hamlet famously tells us, “both at the first and now, was and is, to hold as ‘twere a mirror up to nature.”
At the beginning of our drama course, we talked about these concepts. I had the students identify social issues in our own school. In the course of the discussion, the focus shifted primarily to the competitive games of dodgeball and soccer that happen during recess, and the way that students often spoke unkindly in these heated atmospheres. After hearing their input, I went ahead and wrote a play.
The play was titled “A Neglected Sandwich Stinks up the Place.” I lifted the title from a short story by Leo Tolstoy, “A Neglected Spark Burns Down the House.” Tolstoy’s story was about a minor feud between neighbors that leads to the destruction of both families. It seemed like a good place to draw inspiration from.
The students put their energy into practicing and putting on the drama. Their energy and drive was inspiring, and I became aware that, as a teacher, I was standing in a much deeper pool of dramatic talent than I knew or expected. They completed two fantastic performances. After the performance, the Jr. High and High School students gathered together to talk about the themes of the play. The play had served its purpose. The play had sparked an opportunity to talk about issues that were important to them. We had a great discussion about kindness, competition, and setting an example in their conduct during recess.
In raising kids that are ethical and kind neighbors, we have to give them tools to influence their society for the better. Drama is a powerful tool. I’m not saying that they’ll always be able to put on a play when things are off, but hopefully they’ll think back to this class and remember that you often have to find creative ways to confront people’s resistance to change.
- Mr. Reese, Jr. High Teacher
I think what I love most about teaching theatrical performance to students is the opportunity for them to see themselves from a new perspective. From improv to projecting our students are challenged to handle the pressure of delivering lines effectively, at the right time, with the right emotional expression, and in the right place on stage. Self awareness is such an important skill for jr. highers. The way they see themselves affects their academic performance, social connections, and most importantly their self-confidence which is crucial to their development.
Mr. Reese wrote a script for the students to use their acting and stage skills. The story is focused on the importance of not internalizing our social conflicts with others. All students are involved in the performance from playing lead roles, support roles, script managing, costume managing, and set design. Putting on a theatrical performance requires a wide range of talents and skills, and contrary to popular belief, a charismatic lead actor/ress can not carry the show by themselves.
This week, the jr. high class will put on their skit for both chapel services. They are very excited, a little nervous, but mostly enjoying the past quarter of working together toward a common goal. We are looking forward to it, and to seeing them them in a new perspective.
This 3rd quarter has been a blast in Robotic Engineering! In this class, the students have been learning about the 3 main sub-disciplines to robotics which are mechanical engineering (physical build), electrical engineering (likened to the nervous system) and computer programming (likened to the brain of the device). We have touched on all those disciplines in a project we are working on as a class which is part game show and part audio player. The goal is to have a 4 button device with a computer brain that not only lights up but also moves servo motors so specific positions based on which position you buzzed in. As a class, the goal is to produce a prototype.
Through this project the students have had hands-on experience with soldering, drawing schematics and reading them, learning the basics electricity and electronic components, wiring simple circuits and wiring circuits based on their own drawn schematics of the project. These skills come as a result of being able to identify how one thing connects to another in a linear pattern. Exposure to these skills helps the students develop the confidence to see how they can make technology work for them and even demonstrate creativity through it in an ever-changing world.
During 3rd quarter, our junior high students have been learning all about ratios and proportions in our class titled “Robot Math/ Ratios and Proportions”. The Robotics theme has run across many curriculums, (including math, science, creative arts, etc) for the junior highers this quarter and gave them the opportunity to learn about this particular math topic in a fun and unique way! Students learned how the ratios associated with gears inside of a robot can be adjusted to achieve the speed or force they are wanting to achieve.
When the Robotics theme ended half way through the quarter, we began looking at ratios and proportions through a different lens, Theater! As the students have been busy learning about Theater Production in their other classes, we have taken the opportunity to enrich our understanding of ratios by looking at and creating scale drawings of rooms, theaters, and stages. The students are currently working on a project where they have researched the measurements of the Pantages Theater stage in Hollywood, CA and will create a scale drawing of this stage based on an appropriate scale factor of their choosing.
- Mrs. Castro
Take a look at the next three weeks of the Jr High Schedule.
This blog will feature posts from Jr High teachers. This particular article was written by Mrs. Heather Maute.
Hello Junior High Parents!
The first official two weeks of the Spring semester have been a great time! We’ve taken our main objectives for STEM, Creative Arts, and Language Arts and woven them into a curriculum that centers around the interests of the students. They’re enjoying working through the fundamental concepts of those disciplines within the context of Science (Mon/Thu) and Performance Arts (Tues/Fri) this quarter. Over the course of the next several weeks, you can look forward to reading blog posts from our course teachers with updates on their specific subjects.
Description: Beginnings starts each day emphasizing the social and spiritual development of the students. Each week students learn a new scripture which promotes a biblical value through the “Theme of the Week.” During the course of this semester, students will practice journaling, the exercise of reflection or meditation on scripture, and ground discussion. Students will practice the spiritual discipline of prayer, by sharing and hearing prayer requests of classmates. Beginnings is a time that prepares students for their day, and helps refocus their minds and energy on being sensitive to the Lord. We practice a foreign language component during this time as well.
Students will be able to pray aloud when called upon in class by the teacher.
Students will be able to facilitate devotional times for younger students.
Students will practice the DuoLingo challenge to study a foreign language for five minutes a day during Beginnings.
Students recognize the need to build up their classmates with encouragement, and receive encouragement when given to them as well.
Students understand that their choices affect others, and learn to be aware of their classmates.
Children’s Theater Production
Academic Discipline: STEM
Description: Children’s Theater Production is a hands-on STEM course emphasizing engineering and math. Students learn to make scientific considerations as well through the method of observation. In this course, students learn to draft scale models, and put their models into practice, making specific consideration for engineering a set, props, and costumes for a theater production. They are challenged to work both as individuals and as a team.
Multiple Intelligences: logical-mathematical, visual-spatial
Students will be able to draft scale-models, utilizing both the Imperial System of Measurement and the Metric System of Measurement.
Students will be able to produce one-point perspective drawings.
Students will be able to produce two-point perspective drawings.
Students will be able to implement the measuring-point method in their one-point perspective drawings.
Students will be able to engineer their designs with appropriate materials.
I’d like to share a reminder on the school dress code for parents and students here. Because we have 15 minute break times between classes - we like to call them “brain breaks” - we often get to take 10 minutes outside on the basketball court between classes. Please remind your child to bring outwear that is appropriate for the weather!
I’d also like to add a personal note about these brain breaks. I’ve enjoyed listening to the students discuss things related to their classes, homework, and friendships during these times. The break times between classes serve as a way to allow students time to process the material that they just learned, and prepare for their next class. Sometimes that means cleaning and organizing their space, other times it means getting up and moving around for a few minutes, and often times it means asking questions of their classmates or teachers. Not only do these break times between classes help in the aforementioned ways, but I’ve also observed a more organic dynamic developing between the students. They’re learning how to support one another, laugh with one another, listen to one another and challenge one another. It’s been a privilege to gently guide them in their friendships, and to witness their development as social people.
Many of you are familiar with Class DoJo, our easy-to-access online portal, where teachers and students can share photos and notes on their “stories." Teachers post merits and demerits regularly for students on Class DoJo, with notes and often pictures. Check it out!
Our students are currently working on specifically developing a unified class dynamic. They’re learning that this means they are not only individuals learning alongside one another, but that they are also a group of students connected to one another as one. This is illustrated in the Pauline metaphor of the body of Christ found in Ephesians 4. Because I always appreciate a good sports metaphor, the concept of a team favors this idea as well. Course teachers weekly provide group activities that encourage class dynamic. They’re learning that together, they can build one another up and everyone benefits from the specific gifts and strengths of each individual student in the class.
Students are continuing to learn to navigate Canvas, which is the online portal for all of their classes. Parents may download “Canvas Parent” and log in with their child’s username and password as an “Observer.” Via this portal, both students and parents can view files related to classes, course syllabi, homework assignments, grades, and in-class activities. For instructions, please refer to Mr. Cameron’s tech blog, "Canvas for Parents: Accessing and Monitoring." http://www.godinternational.org/academy-tech-blog/2017/9/canvas-for-parents-accessing-and-monitoring
Thanks for reading! Have a great day.
- Mrs. Heather Maute