Shakespeare in Schools by THEATREWORKS

Art Discipline: Theatre

Think 360 Arts for Learning and Colorado Creative Industries provided Woodmen Roberts Elementary school with an incredible learning opportunity through grant funding.  Our school was able to hire theatre instruction for a 3 day workshop and after school extracurricular activity showcasing Shakespeare at an elementary level.  The experience was new, creative, fun, and challenged students to step outside of their comfort zone in a postive light. 5th graders and 4th graders learned about different Shakespeare works while engaging in performance with professional artists  from an organization called THEATREWORKS, which was outsourced.  Persuasive techniques used in theatre were taught by analyzing Julius Ceasar.

High points included building confidence among several students, creative learning and thinking, and a complete focus on the arts for several days.  A couple of challenges that unfolded included extra coordination among schedules along with more paperwork.  And, getting students comfortable enought to participate and step out of their comfort zone was tricky and overcome by many.  

One unique experience was watching just how creative students could be when presenters were teaching and hearing children visit about their experience once presenters left for the day.  The kids had a blast.  In addition, it was awesome to see how quickly students bonded with presenters in such a short time frame.  

We would encourage other schools to replicate such a program.  When a performance is based on literature, it adds a literacy component that is invaluable and opens dialogue between parent and child, teacher and student.  Live performances are important because they allow children to experince the electricity and magical communion that exists between audience and actors.  This program allowed teachers to link performing arts to information literacy.  Based on their current school subjects (i.e. math, science, history, etc.), students adapted and pulled from these areas to understand current roles and created enviroments asked of them by presenters.

This program generated critical thinkng and reasoning among students.  Presenters intertwined these standards through script analysis, character analysis, design interpretations, and marketing planning.  Students developed some practical thinking skills along with the ability to respond through speaking and logical expression.  Other standards included collaboration, self-direction, and invention.  This was made possible by the goals set forth by THEATREWORKS.  The presenters aimed to make Shakespeare more accessible by helping students to empathize with characters and discover their sense of physicality and movement.  In additon, they wanted to give students a sense of empowerment as performing artists by encouraging self direction.  Finally, a space was created for critical thinking and reasoning though problem-solving and collaborating in play.

All goals were met by the consistant attention that THEATREWORKS instruction provided to students and teachers in each workshop.  Techniques were used throughout the days to keep dialogue among the group and pushing to think beyond the classroom.  It was an awesome, successful event.  Thank you to every organization that made this possible for Woodmen Roberts Elementary.  

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