How do I start?
PREPARING A STORY DRAMA
There are several steps in preparing a story drama. The main consideration is what you want students to learn. This decision may be based on your text, or on other curricular goals. The lesson plan should "come full circle" with a beginning, middle, and an end.
1. The lesson plan. When you have decided what objectives you want to achieve and have a text, sketch out a lesson plan. Remember to include an introduction/framing, a process/procedure, and a closure/assessment section.
2. Introduction. Think about how you can prepare students for the lesson. This can be done through discussion, playing a game, pictures, or music. The possibilities are endless. The goal is to mentally prepare the class to receive your message.
3. Process. Decide how to best present the story. The story can be retold in your own words or read aloud. Think of some creative ways to act it out in your classroom. Refer to "simple concepts to theatricalize your lesson" in the "drama" section for some ideas.
4. Closure. This is to re-enforce learning. Assess that the students "got" what you were trying to convey. This can be done in many ways. Some ideas include discussion, hands-on experiences, and visual art. Refer to section seven for more ideas.
It is important to make sure that the messages you are conveying during your story drama are sensitive to multiple cultures, lifestyles, and races. Choosing the right text can be difficult, as you want to insure a positive model, and stay away from sensitive issues and censored material. As a teacher, you have the power to empower or protect through text choices. The following is a list of questions to consider when choosing a text for a story drama.
Check the illustrations- Be aware of stereotypes, tokenism, and who is doing what. Look for stereotypical costuming and actions. Is the story is oppressive to any culture or people?
Check the storyline- Do the characters have to meet standards for success that are not their own? Is resolution of problems brought about justly? How is the role of minorities portrayed?
Look at the lifestyles- Is anyone in the story put down for being different? Are they setting debatable examples? Consider the treatment of minorities and people with disabilities.
Weigh the relationships- Do the whites lead and blacks follow? Men and women? Is the relationship in the story portrayed fairly?
Note the heroes- Does the hero win by hurting/ignoring/oppressing others? Is the hero stereotypical?
Consider the effects- What will children take from this story? What does the story say about specific genders, races, cultures, or lifestyles?
Consider the author/illustrator's background- Read the biography of the author. Are they qualified to represent this topic justly?
Check out the author's perspective- What personal biases are hidden in the story? Is the author subtly conveying a truthful message?
Watch for loaded words- Is there sexist language or "loaded" words ("primitive, "savage") associated with certain races or cultures?
Check the copyright date- Is the book old? Generally, stronger opinions are conveyed in older books. Most modern authors are aware of students' multicultural needs.
From Rethinking Our Classrooms
STAGES OF LITERARY APPRECIATION
The three main stages of literary appreciation that this manual is concerned with is lower, middle, and upper elementary. As children progress developmentally, they become more interested in possibilities of plot and theme.
Birth to kindergarten Nursery rhymes, folktales, picture books
Primary grades School reading texts, easy books, animals, world messages
Upper elementary Fantasy books, animal stories, travel, history