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Ideas for integrating Object Theatre into the English language classroom

1. Helping students visualise a text (fiction or non-fiction)

Purpose: to help students’ engagement with, and comprehension of, a text.

Resources supplied:

Resources needed:

  • A set of various interesting objects and a reasonably large open space.
  • If an open space is not available, this activity could be done in front of the class by groups of students.

Procedures:

  • A fiction or non-fiction text (e.g. a course book text) is read out by the teacher or by students.
  • Participants close their eyes, raising their hands once they hear something they would like to see in real life.
  • If more than three hands are raised, the instructor shouts “Make it!” and then students have a short amount of time (30 – 40 seconds) to create an image of the scene by using the objects in front of them.
  • To facilitate self-evaluation and peer and teacher feedback, you can use the Performance Criteria for Object Theatre (Appendix 4). The stimulus will be the text the students are responding to.

2. Object Theatre storytelling

Purpose: Object Theatre is a fantastic way to gauge a student’s understanding of the genre, themes and characters of a story. In this way, Object Theatre can be used exactly like drama, Reader’s Theatre and puppetry, to allow students to show their understanding of, and response to, a story as part of a language arts component of a unit of work.

Resources supplied:

Resources needed:

  • A set of various interesting objects and a reasonably large open space.
  • If an open space is not available, this activity could be done in front of the class by groups of students.

Procedures:

  • This activity would require training in Object Theatre performance techniques. It is suggested that students watch the video and follow the sequence of activities for Scenes 1 – 3, and at least one of the example Object Theatre performances (Scene 5 or Scene 7).
  • Follow the procedure described in Scene 4 for adapting a short story in prose to a script.
  • After the performance, encourage discussion and feedback on your students’ Object Theatre performances. You can encourage discussion of the objects which will show students’ interpretation of the story (characters, plot and theme). Draw your students back to the story to justify their choices and open up a healthy debate on the story.
  • To facilitate self-evaluation and peer and teacher feedback, you can use the Performance Criteria for Object Theatre (Appendix 4). The stimulus will be the original story the students are responding to.

3. Issue-based learning

Purpose: Students can demonstrate a deeper understanding of issue-based learning through presenting characters made of relevant objects. It also has the added effect of being far more entertaining – and memorable – from an audience perspective.

Resources supplied:

Resources needed:

  • A set of various interesting objects and a reasonably large open space.
  • If an open space is not available, this activity could be done in front of the class by groups of students.
  • Texts that present an issue (e.g. healthy eating, the environment or charities).

Procedures:

  • See Scene 2 for explanation, practice and demonstration of the choosing of objects.
  • See Scene 4 for guidance on creating a devised piece.
  • See Scene 5 for a model issue-based Object Theatre performance.
  • Students can be divided into groups of 5 – 6.
  • Groups can be assigned an issue or choose one for themselves.
  • Ask students to create a presentation based on the issue. This could be structured in many ways. For example:
    • A summary of the key points (e.g. the problem, the cause, the solution) as a news programme
    • a problem and solution presented as an advertisement by a charity
    • a problem and solution presented as an advertisement for a new product
    • a short drama showing how this issue affects people
  • With issue-based drama the issue is the stimulus. You can refer to point 3, ‘Content: creativity & response to stimulus’ in the Language and Content Criteria (Appendix 4).
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