This term, the year 6s are studying radio drama! This unit of work is designed to introduce them to the creative potential of the voice (as one of the actor’s main tools). It follows a unit of work on mime and pantomime, which was used to introduce them to the creative and communicative potential of their bodies (the other main tool any actor has). In previous lessons they have learnt that the voice can be used to create spoken language, music/jingles and sound effects/soundscapes. They have had several chances to apply techniques to produce these different sounds.
Today’s lesson was one in which they would learn the many ways a performer can change the sound of their own voice (playing with pitch, volume, tone, emphasis and accents). The lesson started with a warm-up in which they had to find different ways of delivering a tongue-twister: “You know you need unique New York, but does unique New York need you?” Some students sang it, some said it in an angry tone, some delivered it like a crying baby, some said it using several accents etc… It was lots of fun.
We then moved on to a discussion about the many ways a performer can change the sound of their own voice and asked some students to demonstrate, linking it back to the warm-up. After the discussion, I explained the task instructions which were written on the whiteboard. The students had to move into groups of 3-4 students to create a 1-minute radio commercial about an imaginary product that I assigned their group. Examples of products used: smart machine to make you smarter in your sleep, dog collar with GPS tracking, and magic seasoning that makes any dish taste amazing (for more wonderful ideas, refer to the Drama Notebook). The radio commercial had to include music/jingles, sound effects and spoken language, and each student had to change the sound of their voice in at least one way. The students heard a couple of radio commercials as a demonstration and then were given 10 minutes to quickly prepare and rehearse.
The performances were all recorded using my iPad (name of app: QuickVoice). The students then had to listen to their commercials to help them in their reflection and evaluation (to assess Criterion C – Reflection and Evaluation). The first part of the task is to write their four-sentence reflection using the reflection help-sheet (pictures below).
The students then had to use the checklist to assess their own performance and the self-evaluation template to evaluate their commercial (pictures below).
The last step was to self-assess their ability to reflect and evaluate and give themselves a mark out of 8 for Criterion C (rubric pictured below).
Here is a successful example produced today by a group of 3 boys advertising a car-repairing business. The commercial included sound effects, a jingle and spoken language, and the boys made use of accents and other ways to change the sound of their voice. Enjoy!