Social media in the class room

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Social media is a widespread phenomenon focused on connecting, sharing, and collaborating. The purpose of this chapter is to focus on the educational opportunities for applying social media in the classroom and this is achieved through an application of Bloom’s Taxonomy. A brief description of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom, B.S. Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals. Susan Fauer Company, Inc., 1956) and a description of its components: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating is given. It is argued that each of Bloom’s components can be highlighted using different social media tools. Finally, a variety of case studies and further ideas demonstrate the effective deployment of social media in the classroom.

SEE ALSO: The Teacher’s Guide to Social Media
But how are teachers infusing social media into their everyday lessons? We’ve highlighted several different examples and offered our own ideas on how to best engage students.

1. Encourage students to share work socially.
Anna Divinsky created an iTunes U class at Penn State University called Art 10: Introduction to Visual Studies, which she then adapted into a massive open online course (MOOC) on Coursera. The MOOC, called Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques, amassed more than 58,000 students.

For each class assignment, students were responsible for evaluating each other’s work. Because the class was online, social media played an essential role in connecting students and creating an online community.

Students shared their work on a variety of platforms. On Flickr, they tagged their artwork with “artmooc.” On Twitter, they included the #artmooc hashtag. Others posted to Facebook, and continue to do so to this day, even though the course has been over for quite sometime.

“It was fascinating to see learners from all over the world wanting to connect with one another in order to build a sense of community,” Divinsky says.

But what was even more surprising was how social media allows students to self-organize into smaller, independent groups. These groups were based on commonalities like age, language and art proficiency levels. By allowing students to share on the site of their choosing, social sharing will come more naturally.

2. Use a hashtag to facilitate guest speaker discussions.
According to a recent YPulse survey, 21% of Millennials use Twitter as their primary source for finding news. Encouraging students to engage with guest speakers via Twitter makes them more engaged with the platform and prepares them to raise important questions online.

During an investigative journalism class at New York University, one professor invited prominent journalists to come speak to the class of more than 200 people, and encouraged students to live-tweet the interview using the hashtag #IJNYU. Because the class was so big and the tweets so frequent, the hashtag occasionally became a trending topic in New York City. Students were then required to turn in a Storify summary based on their classmates’ tweets, within 24 hours.

Another way to incorporate hashtags during classroom discussions is to encourage students to tweet questions to a guest speaker as the speaker is talking. This is exactly what Mara Einstein and Chad Boettcher did for NYU’s Innovations in Marketing class. This method ensures that students don’t interrupt the speaker while he or she is talking. More importantly, however, is that it also engages the students’ social communities outside of the classroom, so people who aren’t taking the class can also chime-in with questions for the guest speaker.

3. Require students to keep a blog.
While teaching The Business of Media, another class at NYU, Ted Magner required students to keep a “trends” blog on the media sector of their choosing. Not only did this activity keep the students reading relevant articles every day, but it also required them to become familiar with hyperlinks, image embeds and how to cite sources digitally. Perhaps most importantly, it gave them material to include in portfolios after graduation.

Keeping a blog is a phenomenal way to work on your voice as a writer, and to truly explore and hone in on your personal interests. However, between essays and homework assignments, many college and high school students see blogging as more of a chore than a positive career move. By requiring students to keep a blog in place of some traditional assignments, you make your job as a teacher easier, and you help them establish their digital presence as an emerging thought leader.

SEE ALSO: 10 Creative Social Media Resumes To Learn From
4. Require original expert sources.
For journalists, LinkedIn has proven to be an invaluable tool to reach out to sources, from CEOs to corporate PR representatives. Teachers can foster this skill by encouraging students to reach out to sources directly through LinkedIn.

It should be noted, however, that free accounts on LinkedIn are mostly intended to be used for professional networking. Features that come with a LinkedIn Premium subscription may make the source-gathering process easier.

5. Use Google Hangouts.
If you’re teaching remotely, or if you’re teaching an online class, Google Hangouts can be a great way to check in with students face-to-face.

This is also a good option for adjunct professors who wish to conduct office hours but may not be on campus often enough to meet with all of their students.

6. Create a social classroom on Edmodo.
Edmodo helps you create a social, digital classroom. On Edmodo, you can vote, post assignments, create a class assignments calendar, and upload photos and messages to students.

With more 17 million users, Edmodo has been a highly successful endeavor. It allows students to get real-time feedback by taking quizzes online. Teachers can also engage socially with one another by sharing lesson plans online and asking questions to their online communities.

Edmodo’s Global Read Aloud program encourages students to practice their reading and public speaking skills with other students from around the world.

7. Hold a class in Second Life.
For the class Philosophy of Cyberspace at Northwestern University, students created accounts on Second Life to explore themes such as online identity, online community building and in-game economics.

Some days the students would meet in the virtual world instead of meeting at a real-life lecture hall. The professor would send out an email saying, “Class on Tuesday will be held in Second Life instead of the lecture hall. I’ll email you all the coordinates soon.”

Editor’s note: The writer of this article took both Innovations of Marketing and The Business of Media while a student at NYU.

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Whitley Academy Diary

Work experience Dairy

Session 1:

Today was my first day in a school.  I learned a lot about controlling a group, Mr Steinhaus (my Mentor) has clearly built a relationship with his students which has started before they met face to face. He informed me that the school have files on each student and it is his job to know of any behavioural conditions about each and every student he teaches. I could see that he had the respect of the students and there were clear boundaries within his class. I found that he mixed his style of teaching, from animated story telling, to disciplined research in text books. He took time to introduce me to the class, which put me more at ease and stopped the students wondering who I was and what I was doing. 

 

Session 2:

Today I took a hands on roll with the students, I was asked to work with the ensemble cast in the GCSE year 11 group. My objectives were:

 

  • Give deadlines for learning lines
  • Teach Line learning exercises
  • Start to create costume and prop ideas
  • Create rehearsal structure and timetable.

It was a good experience to work with the group, I felt that they listened well to what I was telling them and I was already starting to build solid foundations. Mr Steainhaus commented that he had never seen one of the students talk about the project so enthusiastically.

Session 3:

I was working with the year 11 ensemble group again today. I was happy to see that some of them had gone away and learned their lines, those that had not were set new targets and I positively encouraged them to try and hit the deadlines by the next lesson. Today my aims were;

  • Create an ending to the play
  • Create more ways in the play to facilitate learning within the audience

 

The ensemble worked very well, we brainstormed ideas to help facilitate learning. We came up with the idea of stopping the play in four separate area and running active workshops with the audience members to see if they can remember what they have learned and consolidate the information.

I have been set home work to create a ‘masterclass’ for years 10 and above in character creation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Session 4:

masterclass plan in ‘Creating a Character’

Learning outcomes

  • The student will be able to create a state of zero from which to create a character. The student will discover techniques in character development.
  • The student will gain and understanding of character building techniques
  • The Student will take the first steps in developing a character.
  • The student will be able to analyse and evaluate the exercise with his/her pears.

This workshop class is designed for years 10 and above, including 6th form and A-level theatre students. Prior to beginning the exercises I will check for any students with asthma and any similar conditions. There are some aspects of the class that may need adapting for students with disabilities and serious respiration conditions.

During this hour long work shop I will be using techniques widely used by some of the most respected dramatists in order to help create and develop character. This will give the students an idea and conditioning of how many theatre companies and directors work should they decide to pursue a career in theatre.  I will be asking my students to both forget and remember aspects of themselves. Certain traits that the actor may have such as standing with their hands in their pockets or a twitching of the foot may not fit the character they are trying to create. In order to create a strong and believable I will be asking them to remember moments of their pasts, to reconnect with emotions and recycle them. Students taking part in this workshop will benefit from learning techniques in helping them to create strong and truthful characters; I aim to give the participants a good starting point from which they can continue to explore and develop.

As Stanislavsky quotes in compilation book ‘An actors handbook p95- you must constantly be adding to your store, for this purpose you draw, principally on your own feeling, experiences and expressions. You also acquire materiel from the world around you, real and imaginary, from reminiscence, books, art, science, knowledge of all kinds, from journeys, museums and above all communication from other human beings. 

  1. Warm up; Breathing and focus (15 minutes)
  2. In the shoes of your character (15 minutes)
  3. Reacting and Improvisation (15 minutes)
  4. Reflect and reconnect (15 minutes)

 

Warm up and Focus 10-15 Minutes

A warm up is often used to energise a performer, to get them motivated in mind and warm and nimble in body. However, I intend to start my work shop with a relaxation process known as ‘Breath centring’ (Creating a Character, Moni Yakim, P202) , I aim to put my students into a state of zero, or Total Relaxation so they can let go of any emotions of their own they might be feeling about their day, or what happened last night. I will ask them to feel the emotions of the character, what did you character eat for breakfast, Is he hungry, tired, drained, elated or devastated?

By starting with a breathing exercise the player will be able to comprehend within their mind they will understand the elements necessary to creating a character. (Stanislavsky, building a character, p5)

I will spend between 10 and 15 minutes on a ‘warm up’ exercise. It is important to visualise these breath centres and cavities, like empty drums being filled with air, imagine your cavities like canal lochs, until you feel the oxygen pumped to every part of your body, breathing in should be through the nostrils and performed in a calm unhurried manor. This should be done whilst sat or laying in a comfortable and neutral position.

  1. First breath centre (abdominal), I will tell the class to inhale into the abdominal until it can no longer contain more air, hold the air for 5 seconds, and exhale until the cavity in empty of air.
  2. Second breath centre (chest). As before inhale to the abdominal cavity but continue until the breath is full of air, do not raise the shoulders, keep them relaxed as raised shoulders restrict the flow of air, allow your rib cage to fan out like the wings of a swan, hold for five seconds and the slowly exhale until both cavities are empty of air.
  3. Third breath centre (lower throat) Inhale through abdominal and chest as before but this time bring the air as far as the lower throat, hold for five seconds and then released the air slowly through until all cavities are empty of air.
  4. Fourth Breath Centre (upper throat) Inhale through abdominal, chest and lower throat, but this time continue into upper throat, hold for five, then release slowly feeling each cavity empty in turn.
  5. Fifth breath centre (sinus cavity between the eye browse) as previous inhale through each section but this time all the way to you sinus, whilst remembering to keep form, remembering to keep your body neutral, hold for five and then exhale through each
  6. Sixth breath centre (top of the cranium) repeat previous exorcizes and continue to the skull, hold for five, keep the form and exhale slowly.
  7. In one deep rapid inhalation flood all six cavities, hold for five seconds and exhale slowly.
  8. Rest to create a normal breathing pattern, allow you class to recover from any effects of light headedness, then Repeat this exercise

Whilst the exercise is being conducted I will not only be giving clear instructions on the  breathing techniques but also reminding them to consider their characters and begin to detach from themselves and assume the persona of the character that they are trying to build.

Once the exercise has been repeated twice I will ask my students to remain where they lay or sit and regress to a time that they have felt fear or ecstasy, a strong emotional experience that they can attach to this being  and draw upon to create truth within character.

Then I ask my students to regress to a time that they have felt fear or ecstasy, they can then use their own experiences and draw upon them to create a character.

Walking In the shoes of your character

‘In your own time slowly move into a standing position, remembering to breath, keep focused on what your character is feeling, what has just happened, what is about to happen’

Now I ask the students to become their character and I will add variables and elements such as warmth, sunshine, hustle and bustle; how would the character react to these elements, does he like the sunshine? What does it remind him of? Does it take the character back to a happy time, or a sad time? Then I will vary the situation, the room starts to turn cold, does your character wrap up, is he always prepared with a blanket in the boot of his car? It begins to rain, does he seek shelter or is the rain of no bother to him, maybe he wants to be cold, he could be punishing himself, darkness sets in do you seek comfort from another, or are you a solitary character? By finding these vulnerability’s you begin to add layers to your character, even if he hides them, if you are being truthful they will show, the audience will see it and be able to identify and connect with you.

Man is as strong as iron, as hard as stone and as fragile as a rose. Vulnerability is a quality that people try to conceal, yet it is a characteristic that truly allows and audience to connect with an actor  (Creating a Character Moni Yakim p14)

 

Reacting, improvisation and exploration

 

In this section of the work shop I will be creating scenarios for the students to take part in, asking the students to become their characters and provoking them to react naturally and truthfully. Improvisation can be crippling for actors as they search to create and entertain, in this exercise we will focus on truth, whether that be sad, funny, boaring or hilarious, the point is that it is real.

I will split the students into groups of five and place them in day to day scenarios and create conflict. This workshop relates to the work of Augusto Boal and his Forum theatre.  For example, an everyday occurrence such as waiting on a train platform, a rail employee very politely comes to inform them that the train is five minutes delayed, 30 seconds later the employee returns, this time not being quite as polite as before to inform them the train will now be 10 minutes late, 30 seconds later the employee returns, it has now began to rain and the employee is being unpleasant and rude informs them the train will be half an hour late, he then demands to see their tickets or leave the platform. I will ask the actors to react as truly to this situation as possible, whilst reacting to each other, so if a girl was to cry, would one of the men comfort her?

Another scenario would be a women claiming to have been hit by her husband, she describes a violent and vicious man, will the characters simply want to beat on him, or will they ask questions, do they just take her word for it? Then we introduced the husband, who turns out to be a timid and gentle man, how does this change the situation and the way your character is feeling?

I will add several more scenarios to the work shop, some mundane and day to day, others more extreme and provocative, but hoping to achieve the outcome of truth.

Reflect and reconnect

 

This section is technically a cool down, but also a reflective period.  I will ask the students to sit or lay in a comfortable position, slowly start a breathing rhythm and phase out the other students, all the sounds and smells of the room and reconnect with the emotions of the character. I will ask them to think about what they have learned about their character today; and try to imprint these emotions on to the character you are creating, as Stanislavsky says the broader your emotional memory the richer your materiel for inner creativeness,‘(an actors hand book p56)and continue to build and consider how your character would react and feel to situations when your sat on a bus, or waiting in line at burger king, hold on to these feeling and emotions and keep them in your box, ready to be used when called upon.

Personal Reflection

I felt that the lesson went very well, most of the students took the work very seriously and created some very good work. However there were a few that took the opportunity to make inappropriate jokes when I asked them to regress from moments from their past. Perhaps this is something that I need to review. It might be that this class does not work across the board.

Session 5:

Today I worked with a year 8 group. When mr steinhaus read out the register instead of just saying ‘here’ the pupils had to give a fact learned in the previous lesson. I found that this was a really good way to recap on last weeks content but also to get their minds working for the lesson. Also at the end of each lesson the pupils took 5 minutes to evaluate the lesson in their own note books, they outlined their strengths and weaknesses and gave thenselves a grade for their performance in that class.

There was one girl in the class who had an assistant with her, she did not speak much during the class and seemed nervous and shy. I wrote in my notes ‘what can I do to help pupils like this?’ it is something that I intend to look deeper into.

Session 6:

Today was intensive rehearsals for the GCSE exam. They were off timetable so I spent the whole day with my ensemble. I acted more like a director, I picked parts of the performances that needed work. Most of the students reacted very well, they listened to my advise and the performance was much improved. But  I also found that some students took general notes as serious criticism and was damaging to their confidence. To I would tackle this issue at the very beginning of the year, by explaining that theatre involves a lot of critique. I know this would not work with every student. Once I know the students better I will know how to deal with each individual differently.

Session 7

Today I was back with year 8. Mr steinhause put me on the spot and announced I was to run the lesson. I asked the class to throw some words associated with their drama classes at me. One of the words I could work with was freeze frame, or tableaux. I took a class I had done at university, which involved playing grandmas footsteps, but used to create stories from the freez frames. The class was split in to two groups, one the audience and the other playing the game. when grandma turned around and the people were frozen we had to look at the image that had been created, some people saw a gang trying to attack somebody, or a running race, political rallys, protesters, all from people stopping in a moment in time trying to move forward without being seen! I then asked the students asked to describe the scenes not only in a literal sense but also in a poetic way, or in words that jump out at you, they may not make sense to others but its what you see. It’s a good exorcise in the fact there are sometimes no right and wrong, just creation. It was a really successful class and one that I will do again.

Bibliography

Stanislavsky, An Actors Handbook, Methuen Drama, 1990

Stanislavsky, Building A Character, Max Reinhardt ltd, 1950

Moni Yakim, Creating A Character- A Physical Approach to Acting, First Applause Printing, 1993

Work experience request

Dear Ms Gallagher,

My name is Steven Rowbotham, I am nearing the end of my Theatre and Professional Practice degree at Coventry University. Once I Graduate my ambition is to become a Drama teacher. I have applied through UCAS to start my training and I am eagerly awaiting responses from three institutions including Caludon Castle School.

I have been gaining classroom experience in the drama department at the Whitley Academy which has been a fantastic. I worked with the year eleven pupils on a section of their exam performance and observed master classes with year eights. I found the experience to be extremely valuable and further fuelled my desire to teach Drama. I am looking to gain more class room experience, I have researched the performing arts department at Caludon Castle and have been very impressed with dynamic approach towards performing arts, not only trying to involve the whole school but also the community, which really fits into the way I see drama and the arts.

If there were any opportunities for me in Caludon Castle I would be very grateful and would very much appreciate the experience that I would gain.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Many thanks

Steven Rowbotham

Business Matters

Business Matters

 By Steven Rowbotham

2685227

stevestarftuk@wordpress.com Platypuss121

Introduction

In this essay I intend to outline my future plans, how I aim achieve them, what I have already done in preparation and an alternative plan. Throughout this assignment I will demonstrate the value of the skills and knowledge that I have obtained during my three years studying Theatre and Professional Practice and the importance of continuously learning and developing throughout my career.

Class Room Experience

Before I started my work experience program I had an idea about the style of teacher I want to be. I want to gain the most out of the time I spend with my students. Drama can be classed as a luxury subject. It can be a subject that certain students love and thrive in but can also have the opposite effect depending on the individual. That is why I believe it is important to adapt to your audience.  Theatre is not just about putting on a play.  It can help young people unlock intellectual, emotional, social, physical, artistic, creative values and feelings. Just like music or sport, there is an area of theatre that all people can identify with. For me the teaching of theatre is not about putting Romeo and Juliet into a pupils hands and telling them to go and act, but to discover an area of theatre or the arts that truly inspires the student.

My work experience took place at Whitley Academy in Coventry. I had been informed that some of the pupils were somewhat challenging. As part of my preparation, I studied Whitley Academy and its surrounding area. Whitely Academy is a school located in a community where a large percentage of its pupils and parents have been affected by many; if not all of the country’s economic and social events that have taken place over the past fifty years. A decade ago Whitley was a failing school. Some children were being sent into the world with only the most elementary reading, writing and academic skills. Pupils were socially unprepared for the most basic requirements a young adult needs to function in society, such as effective communication, time management and interview preparation.

Since Whitley converted from a school into an academy its fortunes have transformed and it is one of the highest moving schools in the country over the past ten years. One of Whitley Academy’s strategies was to invest more time and money into its drama and arts department. According to my interview with head of drama at Whitley Academy Steven Steinhaus, theatre is having a positive impact on the school. Despite this information I truly believe that you cannot make judgments and it is vital to make your own easements on real events, with real people rather than making assumptions from government figures.

I have took the time to read literature on successful teaching practices which I have found useful as a starting point It. There is a vast range of literature with page upon page of tips and advice about teaching. You could read every book ever written and as much as that creates a foundation it does not prepare you for the first time you walk into a school and realise that these are real people, with their own personalities, their own issues, strengths and weaknesses.

During my first observation it was clear that only half of the students were remotely interested in the class, as the hour drew on a few of the pupils began to be disruptive, it seemed that the teacher had taken note but decided not to say anything. He then appealed to their egos, by using them as positive examples, which seemed to have a positive impact and they actually began to engage in the class for a few minutes. I could see that the teacher was using his experience both with students and these people in particular. This was more a case of damage limitation and trying to avoid conflict. Eventually, around three quarters into the lesson the teacher raised his voice to the disruptive pupils, which had a strong impact and they remained quiet until the end of the lesson. After the class had finished I asked him about his decision with dealing with the disruptive students. He explained that if he had tried to discipline them at the beginning of the class each time he spoke to them after that moment, would escalate the situation further. So whilst they are at an acceptable level and not disturbing the other students too much its sometimes best to accept a small level of disruption. At this point I realised how important experience will be to me as a teacher. I saw the importance of not only knowing the dynamics of a year group, or a class, or a group of people, but knowing each individual and treating them that way, as individual people.

I prepared my first lessons around forum theatre and the theories of Augusto Boal. I created situations in which somebody was being treated badly, unfairly, in short oppressed.  I then  asked volunteers to act them out. As a group we then discussed the scene, then played it out a second time but this time the audience had the power to stop the action and alter the future. I found that the students were learning through the power of theatre, experiencing serious life issues first hand without having to suffer the consequences for themselves, identifying and relating to the characters within the play with their own lives, which hopefully would help them question their own actions. During my workshops students have shown how they identify and relate to the characters they develop, providing them insight into their own actions in their own lives. It is these experiences which theatre enables that will be invaluable in the futures of these young people. However, I am very aware that if the students decided not to engage in the exercise it simply would not work.

Mr Steinhaus (Head of Drama) asked me to assist with the year 11 GCSE play. I was briefed by the teacher who outlined the aims for the term. The students had created an idea for a play to perform for their exam. The idea now needed to be developed and structured. The first challenge I encountered  was to remember that this was not my play, and it was up to the students to create the piece and I was there to offer guidance. I found this quite difficult, because devising is something that I can just do. When I was a student my maths teacher would get frustrated because she couldn’t understand how we were struggling with such simple equations. Obviously maths was something that she could just do, but it didn’t mean she was a good at teaching it. Recalling my own experiences as a student meant that I was able to identify with their frustrations. I split the class into groups and gave them each a section of the play to work on. As I went round the groups it was clear to see which pupils flourished in this subject. They found it relatively easy to come up with ideas and just needed additional guidance and structure. The weaker students were not only lacking ideas but also confidence. So I gave them a few starting points, and the groups then began to find their own way. I shared their good ideas with the rest of the class and this seemed to install confidence and belief.

I also observed a year 8 drama lesson, who were studying Romeo and Juliet. The teacher had created a clever way to read the register. He made three categories linking with the previous class. Why Shakespeare writes in verse; Why Romeo and Juliet were forbidden to marry and quotes from the play. Each time the teacher read a name from the register the pupil answered by making an observation from one of the three categories. If they could not think of anything they could ‘tag out’ and somebody else from the class would answer. I found this to be a great way to start the lesson, because it recapped on their previous lesson and reminded the students of things they may have forgotten which obviously helps the flow of the lesson.

I have gained valuable experience both with the teachers and students. The main thing that I have learned through this experience is that you never stop learning, those that stay still get left behind and students will not engage in learning. Times change, people change, society changes and you have to change and adapt with it. I have strong ideas, but I have no proof that they work. As much as it is good to have ideas, I need to be prepared to be proven wrong and adapt year upon year.

 

Gaining Employment

My initial aim was to leave university and start immediately start training as a teacher, unfortunately this is not looking likely due to a fault with my UCAS application. However I am still waiting the response from one school.

So now I must revaluate this next year.  First and foremost I need to live.  I have rent and bills to pay so this means that volunteering in a school full time is out of the equation. I am very eager not to waste a year in a stop gap job not getting any closer to my goal of becoming a teacher.

I am a chef by trade and I have always worked in restaurants, I have always kept good professional links and relationships with my colleagues and previous colleagues, one of which has presented me with a timely opportunity. I have been recommended for the Sus Chef and personal Governors Chef position at a prestigious school; Kings High in Warwick. Although it is not teaching, it puts me in a school environment. I will gain hands on experience spending time with students and teachers. This will also look favourable on my CV and UCAS form for when I reapply for teaching training in September 2015. Additionally I have already spoken with the drama department and they have offered  for me to help with the school productions and any additional drama workshops.

Another bonus with a job with in a school is that it is term time only, which means that I am able to add more to my CV over the summer. I have contacted Play Box Theatre, Teatro and Stratford M.A.D about volunteering with them over the summer holidays. I will also look into schools with drama academy’s and their summer programs in the hope of gaining as much experience and lines on my CV as possible. I believe that experience is the best way to learn, I am continually motivated to experience as many learning environments as possible, to work across educational sectors and apply the knowledge I obtain when I become a teacher.  Missing out on my teacher training program for this September was a low point, but I need to use the silver linings in the cloud and see this as an opportunity to better myself which will in turn make me a better teacher.

Below is the letter that I have recently sent to Caludon Castle school, I will use this as a template (editing where appropriate) to send to schools and Theatre companies.

Dear Ms Gallagher,

My name is Steven Rowbotham;  I am a mature student, currently studying at Coventry University. After graduating, my ambition is to become a Drama teacher. I am nearing the end of a Theatre and Professional Practice degree, and have applied through UCAS to start my training, including Caludon Castle School. I am eagerly awaiting a response.

After researching the performing arts department at Caludon Castle school, I was very impressed with the  dynamic approach towards performing arts, not only trying to involve the whole school but also the community, which really fits into the way I see drama and the arts.

 I have gained various work experience, in different schools over the past 3 years. Most recently I have worked in the drama department at the Whitley Academy which has been a fantastic experience. I worked with the year eleven pupils on a section of their exam performance and observed master classes with year eight pupils. I found the experience to be extremely valuable and further fuelled my desire to teach Drama.

If there were any opportunities for me at Caludon Castle School, I would be very grateful and would very much appreciate the experience that I would gain.

I hope to hear from you soon.

Many thanks

Steven Rowbotham

If I am not accepted at Caludon castle I will use the year to build my CV, create personal links and relationships within schools and Theatre companies whilst gaining experience working with students.

Running a Theatre Company

Writing and directing my own play was one of the best things I have done in my life. I thoroughly enjoyed  the process from typing up an initial idea to placing a final product in a theatre. There are huge advantages in doing this project through university; I had actors, rehearsal space, a theatre, technicians, lights; everything I need to produce and play at my disposal. It was also cost effective as most of the elements of the play and venue were free or provided as part of my tuition fees.

Despite having all of this to aid the process, it was still a massive challenge that consumed my life and all of my spare time. There is an enormous amount of organisation to consider. For example; trying to arrange 12 people to be in the same room on any given day requires biblical logistics.

To create a theatre company from scratch you need more than just funding from the arts council, a Quality product, a fantastic cast, a transit van that won’t break down every other week;  you need 100% commitment. Your new company has something that you have to live and breath in order to stand any chance of success, it would mean abandoning my dream of becoming a teacher which is something that I have sacrificed a lot for and cannot do.  It is also a financial burden that I cannot currently bare. The scale of the task became apparent during the first week of business matters when we were set the task to create our own mock theatre company and book gigs. During this Glen Nobel, my tutor and previous co-founder of ‘Spike theatre’ ran a lecture on his experiences with creating Spike Theatre. Running a theatre company, Writing Material, auditioning actors, acting and touring whilst working additional jobs. All the while nothing is guaranteed, you are working towards something that you might get paid for, at the same time you could fail which is not currently an option in my life.

However, I enjoyed writing and directing so I will aim to start on an amateur pathway whilst working within the education sector. I will continue to write, at first for a smaller cast and a minimalistic setting. Without the recourses that I had at university I would have to plan on a small more manageable scale, This way I can gain writing and directing experience without creating  too much additional stress and distractions. Once I have got a product that I am happy with I will apply the communication skills that I have achieved through business matters to invite theatre companies, directors, casting agents and writing agents to performances. I will also provide a detailed pack that can be emailed or posted including a memory stick containing a  synopsis, photographs, video footage  and documentation of the rehearsal process For those that are unable to attend performances but wish to have more information about the production.  Through this I hope to build my reputation as a writer and director, which could lead into being commissioned to write or direct. This would be a more secure route into the industry, without having to take a risk in a highly uncertain industry. I would still have a career as a Drama Teacher which means I would not be pinning all of my hopes and aspirations on an industry that so few succeed in.

This has already paid dividends, I invited member of the British legion to watch my production of my WW1 themed play ‘The Last Train’ that I wrote and directed.  I have since been asked to help with the devising of a WW1 play with the British legion, and if that is a success they would like me to follow on next year with a piece surrounding WW2.  This is something that I will be able to fit around my life school hours.

Conclusion

The most important lesson that I have learned from work experience in a school, creating my own play and applying to be a teacher is to keep motivated. Even when it seems that there will be no show, no job and the students are not interested the only way to overcome your problems is to learn from your mistakes, gain as much experience as you can and then use it to better yourself.

Approaches to creating Character

Approaches to Character

Measure for Measure, aka the problem play, which to me was like red rag to a bull, if I was going to be challenged on this module I may as well make it as tough as possible.

Before we got into groups and chose texts we looked at ways of connecting with a characters emotions, one technique that I found very useful was to regress to a time I felt happy sad, pleasure or pain; to find those truths and transfer them in order to offer your audience something real. It opened new doors to connecting with a character and showed me a whole new level of commitment, as Sonia said, ‘if you want to know what its like to be cold, go home and have a cold shower’ she used many phrases along these lines including going to a supermarket and talking to the vegetables, see how the people react. Some people giggled at that, but the look in her eyes said that she was deadly serious, and if that is what you have to do to identify the truth in what you are ‘pretending’ to feel, then go and do it.

We started by reading the scene, act 3 scene 1, Claudio and Isabella; said with the upmost honesty I had absolutely no idea what the scene was about. I got the gist that somebody was going to die and wasn’t overly keen on the idea, but I had not even scratched the surface of the richness and depth of the text in front of me. Let alone who I was, what did I want, how was I going to get it and what would happen if I didn’t get it?’ . So we ran the scene, over and over, and eventually got it to the stage where we thought we had done well, that we had deciphered the text and characters where beginning g to surface; how wrong we were. After showing Sonia what we had come up with we realised that we’d actually been wondering into the wilderness in the wrong direction. But I didn’t find this disheartening in the slightest, it actually gave me a greater respect for the task ahead and put me in awe of what can only be described as the genius of William Shakespeare. Not only did I not get it, I was a long way away but the inspiring thing was that I was now on the right road and enjoying it.

We gradually edged our way through the scene under Sonia’s guidance, the text was becoming clear, and my objectives were crystal clear, now I had to find the man. I felt that he was in a foreign environment, this was not the life that he was used to, I was an alien, confused, scared but most of all desperate to live. We all want to survive it’s a natural instinct, but many men of this era were prepared to die, however Claudio was not, why? Because he was an atheist, in his mind when he swung and might we add unjustly he was going to be put in the ground to rot. The promis of the afterlife did not reside in Claudio’s heart, this life was the only one he was going to get and he was desperate to hold on to it. the one thing standing in his way was his own sister, who had quite opposing views on god. But it was clear that this man was willing to sacrifice his sister’s virginity, which to her was worth more than his life in order to save himself. I was able to learn more and more about Claudio from this, I could to begin to paint a picture of his life, I saw his childhood, more interested in adventures than bible readings, He loved his family and indeed his sister but gradually their difference in believes would flow like a river between them and soon the bridges would begin to crumble,  he fell in love, then he and his wife in waiting would have had secret affairs until eventually his luck ran out and all of this was snatched away from him..

As I started to find the man I now had to connect with the world, I developed the cell where he was held, it was cold, wet and dark, when the door opened the bright lights from the Italian sky shone in and momentarily blinded him. The smell of excrement and insane chattering’s of inmates flooded the corridors, People in the adjacent cells were dragged away pleading for their lives, Claudio knew that soon this would be him.

Simply put my aim was to be somebody else, for a brief moment on stage to become another person, but not just pretend; to breathe, walk, blink as they would, right to the smallest detail, predictably I failed; we only got one shot at the scene, and looking back I know there was so much more I could have done. But I take that as a positive, if I didn’t think there was anything else I could do with my performance I should either be a star of stage and screen or heading into the arena of self-worshiping mediocrity. I feel the process was a success, the guidance from the lecturers on this module has catapulted me into a new realm of preparation, and I am excited to use these new skills in forth coming projects.