Teaching problem-solving skills through theatrical activities
Um, why is Aiden covering that other child’s body with tin foil?
During the recent walk-through of my elementary theater room, my principal posed that inquiry. She decided to investigate when she heard the jovial chatter of fourth graders working together. She had seen us just a week earlier engaging in stage combat with pool noodles while discussing how Hamlet could have dealt with his dysfunctional family’s issues without resorting to violence.
This time, the class was making knight costumes out of just yarn and tin foil. The students were putting in a lot of effort, their brows furrowed in concentration, as they tried to make the coolest armor without breaking their foil. As the “Keeper of the Foil,” I gave them only one big piece to play with and shape however they wanted. The students might end up with a string-only costume if they were too rough or didn’t plan things out in advance.
“What a great challenge to solve!” Without realizing how accurate her statement was, my principal escaped back into the hallway with a grin on her face.
Creative challenges encourage growth mindsets. It’s fun to make a knight’s armor out of tin foil and string in ten minutes. Kids are learning about the steps a costume designer takes to plan a performance and work with others on how to finish the job. As they develop critical and creative problem-solving skills that they can use outside of my classroom, many will recognize the connection between math and measurement in the real world.
In elementary school’s special area classes, there are a lot of creative challenges. Experts in actual training, craftsmanship, music, library, and theater help public or state principles while requesting that understudies utilize their minds to take care of different issues. Important life skills are being taught in these classrooms through creative means, such as divergent thinking, judgment, and evaluation, despite the fact that content knowledge is important and should support creative thinking.
A student’s creative mindset is also shaped by special area classes. Students will put in more effort to learn the creative skills they need if they believe they can change and improve their creative abilities. Students gain the ability to think creatively when they are given chances to fail and succeed.
How can you use this growth mindset to encourage creative chaos in your special education classroom or area? What creative activities that teach collaboration and the subject matter can be used to solve problems? To engage your students, think about these three straightforward choices.
1. Expert teams.
A specialist bunch is where every understudy turns into a specialist on one point and afterward shares the data with others. Because each student plays a crucial role in putting the lesson’s pieces or “puzzle” together, this teaching method is also known as the “jigsaw technique.” These collaborative groups can be set up in a variety of ways, and they are ideal for teaching information in bite-sized chunks.
This is how I teach my students about Shakespeare’s life and times. I divide the class into groups of four to five students and assign tasks such as reading, collecting materials, asking questions, and keeping track of the clock. The students then delve deeply into their education by becoming experts in one of the following areas or topics: pageant wagons, Elizabethan half masks, the Black Death, or the coat of arms.
There is a brief passage to read at each center that explains the historical information, and the entire group is given a timed task to complete. Students, for instance, read about Queen Elizabeth I’s love of the arts and of masquerades. Students are challenged to make an Elizabethan half mask with the provided materials.
The students pair up with representatives from the other projects when the timer runs out. Each student who worked on a project shares what they learned and created as they move through the centers. As understudies leave my room, I utilize a leave ticket system. I must hear from each student individually one thing they learned from their “expert” group members.
2. CHALLENGE IN BUILDING.
But what happens when your prop vanishes right before you take the stage? Props help actors tell their stories. Before I give my students the following resources, I present them with this scenario: a pencil, a long piece of tape, a straw, a paper plate, scissors, and a piece of paper Within the allotted 15 minutes, they collaborate with their group of four to five students to create a prop of their choice.
I tell my students to use the materials carefully because once they are altered or changed, they can’t get another one. I encourage them to talk about what they might build or how they might use the materials during the first five minutes of this challenge. For instance, just because you have a single roll of tape doesn’t mean you can’t cut it into smaller ones to make it go further. The students present their prop and demonstrate how it can be used after the collaboration is completed.
3. CHALLENGE OF ACTING.
Students can improve their creative problem-solving abilities and learn the art of improvisation by participating in open scenes. A script with an A character and a B character is given to each student in a pair. The actors don’t get much information from the lines about where the story is taking place, how the characters feel, or their backstories because the lines are haphazard.
The students must decide what occurred prior to the beginning of each scene and where the characters are after reading the scenes multiple times. The fact that the majority of the class will have the same scene but will come up with a different scenario makes this especially enjoyable. Students gain skills for writing narrative fiction, improvisation, and acting through this exercise.