Over the course of the fall semester, I worked with four other teachers at Galindo Elementary to use theatre to teach creative writing to 4th graders. Galindo is a Title I school, where half or more of the student population is below the poverty line. This past Friday, I returned to the school with 15 actors and we performed the 4th graders’ stories for the whole school. It was an amazing experience. The teachers and the principal were blown away. “What a great way to validate these students as writers!” one teacher told me. Many teachers asked how they can have this in their classroom.
I will soon have some video clips of the performance, but until then, see below for some pictures and stories from the workshops.
Everyday we began with a warm up where we talked about the tools of the actor: the body, voice, and the imagination. We also had every student repeat the mantra, “Every idea is a good idea.” These workshops not only got students to come up with interesting stories, it also helped to build classroom community.
The classroom teacher told us that there was one student in the class who was unable to write. We would have to sit with him and write down his ideas as he dictated them to us. The best we could get from him was to sound out the words that we were writing for him. At the end of the eight weeks, he was so excited about writing that he began trying to write on his own. He was asking us how to spell each word, and it was clear that he was much more motivated than he was when we first arrived. He now saw himself as a writer, and that intrinsic motivation was a huge breakthrough. It is stories like this that make the whole process worth it!