We are now well underway for Term 1, and feeling good to be back in the teaching ‘groove’!
This blog post follows on from our previous post, describing what can be expected in lesson plans for Term 1, 2021.
While the last post focused on what is in our curriculum for the 1st half of the term, this post is concerned with the curriculum for the 2nd half of the term (weeks 6 – 10).
At Head Held High, our speech and drama lessons follow a set structure which provides stability and continuity for students. This means they, and you, can know what to expect each week!
Our speech and drama lesson plans are all carefully developed in-house, and take into account the age, stage and experience levels of individual students.
Week 6 – Modulation & Improvisation
In this week’s lessons our junior students get asked the questions; “What is modulation?” and “Why might modulation be important?”
In short, modulation is the “colour” we add to our voice. It gives variety to your speech so that monotony is avoided and listeners become interested. We use modulation by varying pace, pitch, volume, and using emphasis, inflection and pauses when we speak.
A super-fun example of how we teach modulation to students is the game “Gush About Something You Don’t Love”.
In this game students get a feel for how enthusiasm is contagious and that if you want your audience to be excited about your topic, then you need to show enthusiasm for it.
Students take turns choosing something they’re indifferent about, (e.g. toenail clippers), and practice speaking about it enthusiastically to make it seem like the most exciting thing in the universe!
Also this week, as well as learning about modulation students start to explore improvisation.
Improvising is a fantastic way of learning communication and acting skills. Being completely in the moment and open to what is happening improves listening and responding skills, builds rapport between students, sharpens wits and improves confidence as communicators. We have dozens of improvisation games and activities which we use with both junior and senior students!
Week 7 – Manners & Improvisation
This week our senior students continue to develop the improvisation skills they began to explore last week, while our junior students switch their focus towards learning about the importance of manners.
The manners lessons we teach are so important within the overall context of Head Held High, and we place a lot of meaning on them as teachers.
So, in Week 7 we have age appropriate conversations around manners, including exploring what different types of manners there are and why it’s important to have good manners.
We talk about how manners are some of the most important skills you can learn.
Manners are important for how you make friends, how you make good first impressions and how you can be kind to people. We teach that you can’t get very far in life without good manners and that it is really important to show good manners to EVERYONE – not just older people or people you want to impress.
As always, we have numerous activities and role playing games for students to actively practise the manners that they decide with their classmates are most crucial.
Weeks 8, 9 & 10 – Improvisation & Impromptu speaking
The intent of the last phase of this term’s lessons, for senior and junior students alike, is to help them feel comfortable with “thinking on their feet”.
A good impromptu speaker has no fear in group situations, and has confidence that they can organise their ideas quickly while articulating them well to an audience at the same time.
The fantastic thing about improvising and impromptu speaking is that they are skills which can be taught and learned!
In fact, even Mark Twain is on record as saying: “It usually takes me three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”
So, this week will be all about helping students have fun while experimenting with these new concepts. While they play games and activities designed to expose them to the fundamentals of thinking on their feet, here are just some of the tips we’ll be walking them through (complexity is adjusted depending on age-groups)…
• Keep a nice steady pace, this will help you think ahead and if you pause to think it won’t be as obvious.
• Try and engage the audience using personal experience, talking about something you know is always easier than talking about something you don’t know.
• Maintain eye contact to keep your audience interested.
• Breathe and relax.
A great example of a game we use to teach improvisation and impromptu speaking is “Story Story”…
• Students sit in a semi-circle and the teacher sets an “order” of play so everyone will know whose “turn” it is next.
• The 1st player takes his/her place in the acting area and the 2nd player begins to tell a story.
• The 1st player must act out the story in whatever seems the best way. This can involve playing more than one character, using props – whatever she/he thinks will work best!
• After 1 minute, the teacher yells, “ding!” and the 1st player sits down. The 2nd player enters the acting space.
• The 3rd player continues the story exactly where the 2nd player left off, and the 2nd player must now act it out.
• After a minute or so, another “ding” and another rotation. Continue until the story concludes or seems to peter out, or until everyone has had several turns as storyteller and as actor.
• This game can have guidelines introduced to make it harder/simpler/age-appropriate. For example, the teacher may insist that the story “make sense” or that it be “crazy.” Or perhaps for senior students it could be done in a certain genre e.g. Drama, romantic comedy, thriller. We sometimes also add props and costumes to help tell the stories.
Term 1, in a nutshell
So there you have it! Between this and our last post, you now have a taste of what your children and teenagers will be learning in this, the 1st term of 2021.
It’s a dynamic term’s curriculum, with lots in it for juniors and seniors, and challenging material for both new and experienced speech and drama students!