Saturday, 9 May 2009

Week 1 in Leicester - What we did ...

Our time table consisted of ..

Monday 9th March - 2 classes = Year 10 Drama and Year 10 Performing arts

Tuesday 10th March - 2 classes = Year 13 Performing Arts and Year 12 Drama

Wednesday 11th March - 3 classes = Year 10 Drama and Year 10 Performing Arts and Year 12 B-Tec

Thursday 12th March - Off

Friday 13th March - 2 classes = Year 13 Performing Arts and Year 12 Drama


We had decided to scrap the idea of doing the storytelling performance as due to the time limit limited to a class timetable, we felt that spending the time we had working intensively with the students would be more beneficial to them instead of just watching a performance.

Our first lesson is Leicester was with about 25 year 10's. To say the least a bit daunting, especially after how Lucy describe how she used to behave in her classes but despite this slight apprehension i was really excited. We had our lesson plan and enthusiasm and were ready to go.

At first we sat down with the class in a circle. We explained who were were and where we were from and why we were at their school. We then went on to explain what were were planning to do that week. After we had introduced ourselves we decided to play a game that we labelled 'the name game'. This is something that we took from our storytelling module where you had to say your name and then think of a story or an incident about your name, i.e. how you got your name. This was to enable us to get to learn the students names as well as let them know we were interested in them as people and make them realise that they were not just a number. We went around the circle, each standing up, one by one, telling our stories about our names. One of these stories really stood out and it was from a girl called Ellie who said that after she was born she was not given a name for a whole year because they kept arguing over what to call her!

After we were all introduced and had broken the ice we decided to direct the lesson towards storytelling. We asked the students the question of 'What's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of storytelling?' The responses that we received were, 'bed time stories', 'children' and 'fairy tales'. We then posed the question that were newspapers a form of storytelling? With this they answered 'yeah' and then started to develop their understanding of storytelling by saying 'films' and 'plays' as they all have a narrative.

After this section we decided to create one word stories. We all wrote our favorite word on a piece of A4 paper and placed it face up in the middle of the circle. We then went round the circle and one at a time picked a word whilst saying a sentence to make up a story. These stories consisted of munchkins eating chocolate and flying over rainbows. After this story came to an end we did the same exercise again but tried to encourage them to be aware of people next to them and help them make the story more developed by finishing you sentence by saying 'then' or 'suddenly'. We also encouraged them to be aware when the story was coming to an end and therefore try to round the story off. At the end a volunteer would try and recount the story.

Developing on this storytelling aspect more, the group paired off into twos and we gave them a book each. They labelled themselves A and B. A would flick through the book and B would say stop. A would then find a word on that page and tell B a story stimulated by that word. They then swapped over.

After this exercise they got into three groups and each of us joined one of these separate groups. They were then given a fairytale and a language. For example 'Little Red Riding hood' and French. Then as a group we worked on acting out this story in a different language so that when we performed it back to the class, the class had to guess which fairytale it was.

At the end of the lesson we joined back into a circle and concluded the lesson with feedback and what they had learnt.

We then travelled to our second year 10 class only to find that two member of the first class were in the second class as well. This caused problems as we did not want to do everything the same as it was important that those two member Ollie and Ellie were still interested in the session. Therefore, we changed the end section of the lesson so that they created their own stories using movement and sound instead of words.

After these two sessions we realised that the A and B book work, was not effective and the students did not seem to take to the exercise. Therefore we decided to use this time in the other sessions on the creative group work at the end as this was something that the students really engaged with.

This first lesson plan was used as a template to the other classes, however with the year twelves and thirteens instead of creating their own stories in groups, we wrote another word on a piece of paper and they told their own personal stories to the group which were stimulated by that word. Some great stories came out of these groups, one was from a student called Chris. He had the word 'lost' and recounted a humorous story about when he got lost in Ikea when he was younger. We developed the plan more for the year thirteens to take it once step further, as well as the one word stories we also had a section with objects, where we chose one of the objects from the circle, passed it round and developed the story. This object game developed the emotion within the story as well as the story itself. One of my favorite stories that came out of this process was where we had a crumpled up piece of paper, it became a letter that an ex-boyfriend had written, it had said everything that we had wanted the boyfriend to say, but it was just to late. These pieces were beautiful and i feel really encouraged the students to be creative and have faith and encouragement from their own imagination and feelings.


In the second session with the classes we wanted to build on storytelling and what they had learnt from the first class. We also wanted to develop short pieces about the issues within the school to show the teachers at lunchtimes (Wednesday Lunchtime - the year 10's and Friday Lunchtime the year 12's)

We started off the session with the year 10's talking about what our aim was for the end of the class, i.e. wanting to perform pieces in that lunchtime to show the teachers how the students felt about the school. The reaction from the students was scared but enthusiastic to have their say. As we had felt all along whilst doing this project, we wanted to show them that we would be prepared to do anything that they were doing. Therefore, Lucy told a story about when she went travelling to give them technical ideas of how they could present their story and that a piece without props can be just as interesting as one with.

After Lucy had told her story we got into three groups and discussed what issues they felt needed looking at within the school. The first subject that came up in my group was that the teachers didn't respect them. Being an outside party we were in quite a privileged position and i asked them whether they felt that they deserved the teachers respect? Which the reply was 'well we do act up sometime, so we probably don't deserve their respect all the time but even when we are good they still don't respect us so whats the point?'. They went on to discuss other issues but one that resounded the most within the group was an event that the school held called 'Enterprise Day'. This day was where the students took part in gardening and other activities. They felt that the activities were forced upon the students and they had not asked them what they wanted to do. When i asked them what they would like to do on this day, they said, surprisingly, more classes. They wanted to do more classes like drama and dance as well as the fun side of physics where you study electricity and you hold the ball which makes your hair stand on end. Therefore, we performed a before and after scene where Ellie (the teacher) asks the students out of the events on the list what they would like to do. The student pick an event but are unenthusiastic and agree that they are not going to turn up for 'Enterprise Day' (as this is what usually happens). The scene then resets and Ellie asks the students what they would like to do on enterprise day, they vote and the ones with the most votes gets actioned. The other groups performed pieces on lack of respect for the students that the teachers showed and that all they wanted was them to ask the students nicely to do things instead of speaking down to them or shouting. In the second year 10 group they performed scenes about how they would like to change assembly and again respect for the student appeared again (showing it was a point within the school which appeared to be an issue)

We did the same plan for the year 12's. They chose to perform a piece on how reputation of the school. There was a headmistress talking about the potential that the school had and the good grades that the school were achieving. There was a student who was looking to attend the school, but was put off by the litter. There was an ex-student who spoke about that she had seen an improvement within the school but with the remaining issues she just didn't know how to solve them. Then finally there were a few student gathered together interrupting the speech of the three character putting forward ideas of how to change the school and what they would do, i.e. give the A-Level students more responsibility and let them run certain activities on Enterprise Day, make some of the activities fun like clearing up a section of the litter and then painting one of the walls creatively.

These pieces were then shown to the teachers in lunchtime.

Unfortunately the year 13's would not get the chance to perform in front of the teachers as their second session was in the afternoon on Friday. Therefore we did the same session but at the end instead of talking about the school we gave them activities to enhance their dramatic skills as they had exams coming up shortly and wanted some help with this. We developed from the one word stories with the objects onto them creating a piece from a stimulus. They exam piece is based on creating a devised piece from a stimulus so we thought this practice would be beneficial. We gave one group a pack of batteries and the other group a ticket. These pieces were really good and in the evaluation at the end said that they had learnt a lot about creating ideas from something so simply. They recognised that in the past they tended to over think subjects and as a result spend a long time talking about it but not physically doing anything. So by giving them a time limit made them actually get up and create. As a result they created pieces that they enjoyed and that were really good.

As we only had the B-Tec class for one session and after lunchtime we could not do something to show the teachers due to their time constraints so we combined the first session as well as the second session. We spoke about story telling and created one word stories, then went on to Lucy telling her own story about travelling which then developed to them telling their own stories about the school, their personal experiences. As they were their personal experiences, we expressed that in the class we would build a trust circle and that these stories would stay within the group and go no further. These stories were beautiful and we felt so privileged as they were so personal. However, due to the trust that we built i do not want to enclose what they were about, i would just like to mention that they were outstanding, truly honest and a gift to the class when we heard them.

Amateur Dramatic Group

We worked with GMDG Amateur Dramatic Group in the evening of the 11th March. Like the B-Tec groups we used bits from the first session and the second session but developed it to suit the drama group.

We introduced ourselves and played 'the name game' with the group which was also developed into a short story about their life so far. We then went on to the one word stories, then did it a second time to encourage them to be aware of ending the story and making it coherent. Lucy, Bex and I then performed our personal stories to the group so that they could see that we were again part of the group and not just telling them what to do. The group then split off into three groups and told each other a story about themselves. The group then picked one of these stories and created a performance. One of these stories really stuck with me. There were three women in the group, they had all had hard jobs, one being a nurse, one being a police woman and the other a nanny. The nurse said that she had always hated her hands as from washing them all the time while being a nurse they had made them look older. They then discussed that they all had 'hands on jobs' in their past. They performed all three of their stories connecting them by the use of their hands and the phrase 'you don't know what you've got until its gone'. All the stories we really good, either funny, or sentimental. We later found out that the group have never done work about themselves before, or even created a devised piece. They always work with script work. They said that they really enjoyed having something new brought to them and didn't realise that their lives could make an interesting piece of drama.

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