Three-in-one Approach to Teaching Drama

I teach Drama; this class can be a great equalizer when it comes to student success because it is malleable to a variety of skill sets. Every student can find success in drama because it works with many different facets of learning. This is my teaching philosophy when it comes to student learning: I must provide a variety of venues for each student to learn in a way that suits them best and to find success in the class. To do this, we often read plays; we analyze them; we perform them. In this praxis, students are expected to master a variety of skills that are best learned through a utilization of three theories of knowledge, Information Processing, Sociocultural Learning, and Constructivism (H2, O2, P2).

At the start of any project the best theory of knowledge that reaches toward my teaching philosophy is Information Processing. Students must turn their minds into computers. They are asked to memorize and encode the information of the play as they study their lines and seek to understand the sequence of events in the context of the character motivations. This is a simple input and output scenario. Several methods are utilized to memorize the text; regardless of the method it is mechanical and generally reliable. Students are able to retain the information so that they can proceed to the next step. Continue reading “Three-in-one Approach to Teaching Drama”

Learning Drama in the Face of the Learner Paradox

IMG_1976Drama is a perfect study for the middle school student as they enter the fourth phase of Piaget’s stages of development, the Formal Operational Period (Smith, 2012). Students at the age of 11 are starting to think about the world is way that is broader than themselves. They must think both abstractly, logically, and systematically; they begin to look outside of themselves and the surrounding world becomes palpable as their identity begins to blossom. These attributes are applied directly to the study of theatre and English. Both of these courses are text based. In my classroom I expect students to exercise their emerging ability to analyze a text and to connect their new knowledge to life-long lessons.
There are several important factors that the middle school educator must consider for their students. First, teachers must operate in a classroom that is filled with individuals. Each individual has been influenced by elements of nature and nurture as well as their gender (both internal and external). Second, teachers must operate in a classroom that is standardized. Each student must meet the objectives of the course, pass specific tests, and memorize the same material. The learner paradox that the teacher faces is inherent. Students must be simultaneously treated as both individuals and as a collective. This paradox can be accounted for as I create a classroom of differentiation. State learning standards are written with a degree of interpretation that I can take advantage of as a teacher. Because of this, students are able to work towards the standards in different ways; each student can build their path to knowledge and achievement. The practice solidifies my belief in a constructivist approach to learning. I intend to continue to use constructivism as a central modality for all my classes.

There are two central camps in the child development debate, The Nature Camp and the Nurture Camp. Those on the side of nature argue that all of development is pre-determined and the outcomes of character are set at birth. Those in favor of nurture posit that the outcome of a person’s character is primarily from the forces that one experiences as they go through life. However, this relationship is far too binary. There are traits that people are born with, sexual orientation for example, and traits that develop over time, acting with confidence on a stage for example. As Pressley and McCormick (2007) point out, the potential development of a person is subject to both genetics and environmental factors.

Continue reading “Learning Drama in the Face of the Learner Paradox”

The Developing Child in Middle School

IMG_1782Jean Piaget was instrumental in positing four stages of human development. These stages can be directly applied to the work of educators. The fourth stage, Formal Operational, generally starts as students enter middle school in sixth grade around the age of eleven. As an educator of middle school students, my experience is primarily limited to beginning of this final stage. To summarize, the previous three stages are sensorimotor, preoperational, and concrete (Smith, 2012).
The Sensorimotor Period is best represented with the prototypical baby and the game of peek-a-boo. In this stage, babies develop the concept of object permanence in addition to learning to control their motor responses as they coordinate the information from all five senses. The Preoperational Period begins at age two and lasts through age seven, young children develop the idea of abstract thinking. This includes symbolic thinking and ego centered thought. The final stage before middle school is The Concrete Operational Period. This stage starts around the age of seven and continues through 11 years old. Here youth develop the ability to apply their intellectual thinking to actual events (Smith 2012).
The development of an individual is greatly influenced by both their natural born genetics and their surrounding environment as they grow up. There are a number of variable factors that can influence this later category. These factors include: the child’s family members (and their beliefs), the geographical location of the child, the quality of the child’s care as they grow up, the school they attend, the media that the child consumes, and the era that the child grows up in. Continue reading “The Developing Child in Middle School”

Characteristics of an Effective Educator

IMG_2285In the early 1900’s Washington State Educators were tested on wrote knowledge. When examining the qualification exam, one may surmise that the teacher was to impart the facts they knew about the world and nothing else. Today, facts are only a launchpad for further conversation and development in the classroom; learning is more than wrote memorization and an effective teacher should understand that.

Successful students look to the knowledge of their teacher as a basis of information. This knowledge can be categorized into learned facts, practiced techniques, and acquired wisdom. Students may come to class to learn the knowledge of a teacher; through praxis they acquire the technique of working with that knowledge; at the conclusion of the course they should remember the culminating wisdom from the teacher.

The skill of an effective teacher is measured through the transference of information, also known as learning goals (both fact and technique), along with the individual growth of the student. An effective teacher will inspire their students to develop their own skills, knowledge, and curiosity about the world; in doing so, they will develop course content proficiency in their students and prepare them to advance in the subject matter.

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