Theatre vs. Technology: Part 1

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  • Traci Dill

The world is soaring forward with the possibilities of technology and many of our schools are working to keep up with the changing society. It is very common to now see schools that are BYOD or 1 to 1 with technology. BYOD schools encourage students to “bring your own device” in order to utilize technology in the classroom. Schools that are 1 to 1 have assigned all students a device that they either take home regularly or leave at school, but every student has consistent access to their a device. As a classroom teacher, you may begin (or already have) to feel pressured to utilize technology in your classroom. This can be a challenge for all teachers, but especially those of us in performance based classrooms! How does the theatre classroom incorporate these technologies in a meaning-making way? Well, I am glad you asked!

As the pressure increases to incorporate technology, it can elicit feelings of

excitement or absolute terror.

 I feel both!

I teach at a 1 to 1 school. All students have access to a laptop that is assigned to them. They carry the laptop all day and many students are able to take the laptop home (this laptop does not guarantee that students will have internet access at home...so many assignments still need an “offline” capability”).

Early days of me with technology...not great.

After 5 years in a 1 to 1 school with a ton of technology based resources...I still consider myself a beginner. And that is OKAY! Say it with me…

Ensemble:

Technology is great...when it works…

STEP ONE:

My standard method of “just slap the TV remote against something until it works the way I want” does not work with a SMARTboard. So...I had to L-E-A-R-N. Bummer, right?! I had to spend time learning how to use the technology first, then take time learning how to use it in a way that was meaningful and not just checking off a box on my lesson plan template. Do some professional development with the resources available. Whether it is formal or informal--look some stuff up and start figuring it out. Observing teachers who love technology is also great!

STEP TWO:

When I began...I would simply use our online learning system (kind of like Blackboard I suppose) (ours is kind of like a school based Facebook with “groups” that were our classes) as a place to post assignments, updates, directions, and examples. This was honestly simple. Just basically like an electronic bulletin board. I moved into allowing students to post comments, questions, and submit assignments through this tool also. I slowly discovered that I wanted more use out of our technology. I scared myself! I did not see my performing arts classroom as a place where we needed laptops everyday. (now...I do...BTW)

STEP THREE:

I began using the Google. Pretty much non-stop. Students will write scripts, work on theatre history projects, answer character questions, paste design inspirations, and so...much...more…

Google stuff is awesome. Here is why.

It saves EVERYTHING. With Google Docs you can look at the entire history of the document. So, when “Ralph” has not typed a single word in 13 minutes…

Teacher Traci: “Hey Ralph...imma need you to start typing your monologue.”

Ralph: “I have like half my work done.”

Teacher Traci: “Oh Ralph...I can see that all you have typed is nothing...let’s get to work Ralph.”

Ralph: “Oh well..I just deleted it, I did not like it and decided to start over.”

Teacher Traci: “RALPH--I can see the ENTIRE revision history.”

Ralph: ***now fiercely typing***

STEP FOUR:

I enjoy studying filmmaking and commercials. My students and I use iMovie and WeVideo for our current productions! One great thing we discovered is using Google Slides as a teleprompter! If the students share the slides with each other, someone can be updating if necessary while others are performing. We use iMovie to create movie trailers with the various templates available. I love this project because we get to study using storyboards and then they get to produce the trailer!

 

These steps have been exciting to learn about and are truly not even the tip of the technology iceberg. I would LOVE to explore the world of QR codes. I wonder if I could use codes to have a scavenger hunt or a build-the-plot writing project. Could also be fun the post the Spring Musical Cast List this way….

Tune in next time for a continuance of utilizing technology in the theatre arts classroom. I will explore ways I have used “Makey-Makey”, social media based lessons, and Design Studio Pro! Learn how to collaborate not collabo-hate!