This partnership with Su Teatro exposed our 6th grade students to a new way of expressing their experiences and forced them to step out of their comfort zone, both in their opportunities to work with peers as well as through small public performances. Students were given the opportunity to write their own stories and then negotiate with a team to decide on what content would move through the process toward a formal production. This process let students get to know each other in a new way, gave them authentic opportunities for problem solving, self-advocacy and team work. Students developed quick response time in an improv format and developed new skills each week as they became more comfortable with the activities. Over the course of the semester, students have written and created their own stories, working together in small groups. Students visited the theater to see a performance and had the opportunity to present their own skits on the stage for their peers while receiving feedback from the actors. They will present these stories to our school community on Wednesday, May 15th and students who are interested can present to a public audience on stage at Su Teatro for the Youth Showcase on Thursday, May 16th. The 6th grade class has experienced a significant amount of conflict during the school year and our work with Su Teatro has connected students together in a unique way. The students’ work to create their own themes has highlighted the issues affecting them. Many students chose to focus on dynamics between teachers and students as well as issues around bullying. Finding a place for humor and reflection in some of the most difficult areas of their own lives has given our staff more insight into the perspectives of our students.
Though we met many of the original goals outlined in our proposal, we know that there is room for growth. The work with Su Teatro addressed the theater and drama standards, giving students opportunities to develop, collaborate and create their own skits. One area for growth would be to better align the work with the reading and writing standards. Giving students more opportunities to connect to reading and writing in an authentic way would have increased the impact on student achievement, both in their academic growth as well as their self-confidence. If we have the opportunity to work with Su Teatro again, we would like to better align the work with reading and writing standards to integrate the work more deeply with other learning objectives.