Here are some fun puppets made with found materials. If you follow the links on Youtube, you can see the range of things that the UNH teaching department is up to with theatre arts and the classroom.
So, you spend twenty years teaching with an idea in your head and then science tells you it has no foundation. How do you feel? The recent debunking in scholarly journals of the claims made for learning styles has left me feeling rather nostalgic.
It never seemed quite as clear as the literature made out even as I was trying to identify kids’ learning styles, and I can count on one hand the number of times that changing my manner of presentation had a “howzat!” confirmatory flash in my head. More than that I suppose I was rather drawn to the idea that my own style was predominantly visual and that what school had always lacked for me was colour, form and grace. Teaching to learning styles gave me an excuse to put the colour back in.
Learning style theory seemed to offer a way for chaotic personalities to get an out from the mind-numbing greyness of the institutional types who ran so many subjects as though learning were a mechanical operation. I wanted to dive in headfirst without counting the verb endings or the number of rivers in Africa, or how many years the Romans were in Britain.
It is a difficult moment for us arty types at the moment then. You cannot deny the elegance and simplicity of the refutation. It cuts through a lot of waffle like a hot knife through cheese: Occam’s razor tells us that this must be closer to the truth when the situation was neither diagnostically nor practically functional.
On the other hand, it is good to read what this blog says about the nuances of the refutation to keep alive in your mind that refuting learning styles as an explanatory theory is not exactly saying that good teaching is colourless.
It is simple to paint a wooden spoon and it makes an effective puppet.
I have had these spoons hanging around in my project box for the past year and various groups of children and teachers have used them and adapted them. Last night I thought I would give them a touch up myself.
My main idea with these puppets is to use the two faces to express two different and contradictory emotions. This can form the starting point for the development of dialogue:
I feel happy. What a wonderful day?
Aaaah! A giant spider! I’m scared of spiders.
I like to work up from simple things. I also like to work with phrases and expressions that make sense in the learners own world. Text books are useful but they can be pretty colourless!
Here is another link to the John Paul Getty foundation. It is a good page with some interesting tips for working with different styles of art. I particularly like the tips for teaching about narrative art.
ESL Enrichment Curriculum (Education at the Getty).
via ESL Enrichment Curriculum (Education at the Getty).
I am researching ideas for teaching languages through Art and came across this interesting article about teaching French with paintings.
I enjoy using paintings in a class. With a good quality reproduction of a painting there is a lot of room to build up descriptive vocabulary and, as we experienced in the course in Ribadesella, a writing frame can succeed in producing a sophisticated piece of writing.
There are also valuable cross-curricular gains in focus, attention to detail, organisation of thinking and historical awareness. Try it!
St George and the Dragon was made with simple shadow puppets. We put together the puppets in a few moments and the theatre was just a piece of cloth in front of the window. The effect is rather good! I particularly like the way the princess looks as though she really is walking.
Well done to everyone involved and thanks for taking part in the course: