Michigan schools considering a fully integrated and aligned fine arts curriculum now have a new resource at their disposal. School leaders at Concord Academy Petoskey are assisting other Michigan charter schools in the alignment and mapping of fully integrated fine arts curricula, development of a high-quality, comprehensive Internet resource, and implementation of professional development programs for new and aspiring teachers.
Social Studies and Drama Integration Technique
Students were studying core democratic values in social studies class. I had students choose a core democratic value as a theme for writing a play, let's say, pursuit of happiness. From theme they wrote a thesis, that is, the main idea for the play. (Example: Every individual has the right to seek happiness and others should not impede upon that right.) Next, students developed four to six characters. Characters were fleshed out with traits, wants and needs.
From here, students decided on an inciting incident, i.e., the event that disrupts the status quo. The inciting incident should be a "bomb" that goes off. (Example: A girl wants to try out for the boys? football team. Moreover, she wants to be the quarterback.) Students then develop conflicts and relationships between characters. (Example: Character A becomes the football girl, the protagonist in the play. Character B becomes the antagonist, Mutty, the teams center and best friends with Character C, Jeff, who is the star quarterback of the team. Jeff is fair-minded and believes Jen should be given a chance. Mutty is dead set against the idea. He becomes jealous of Jen's and Jeff's relationship as it develops into one of mutual respect. Mutty, gives way to his base instincts and sets out on a mission to destroy Jen's reputation. Plot is brainstormed and outlined. Status quo is introduced in the first act. The inciting incident is introduced at the end of the first act. Sides are drawn and the action builds to the climax of the play at the end of act two. Act three is devoted to resolution and consequences.
Writing plays with core democratic values as themes is an inspiring way for students to discuss, explore and debate these values.
Student E has serious behavioral problems. Moreover, his reading and writing skills are sub-par. He lacks motivation and discipline. He had an idea for a play and was encouraged. Because he could barely write, progress was slow. I sat down with him with my fingers on a keyboard. He told me what he wanted his characters to do and say. I wrote it down. In this way the play progressed. As the deadline for the project approached E took his play home over the weekend to finish it. He did! This was an accomplishment because homework was not a priority in his life. Writing a play perhaps showed E that reading and writing is not merely drudgery but a joy. Engaging his imagination in the playwriting project perhaps helped him realize the importance of reading and writing as a means of self-expression.
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