Tongue-Twisting Lesson!

Today’s year 6 Drama lesson was wholly devoted to articulation and enunciation. As part of the unit of work on ‘Radio Drama’, one of the learning objectives is to “develop better articulation and enunciation”. This lesson comes after a poetry theatre lesson where students experimented with voice as a tool to create different characters. Before that, the students had also created their own radio commercials, which was an attempt to explore the creative potential of the voice.

Today’s lesson had a bit of a twist to it, literally! The whole lesson was built around tongue twisters, which are often used to develop better articulation and enunciation. The lesson started with a tongue-twister relay as the warm-up: students form teams of five, and then they are all given the same tongue-twister, where each member has to say it three times without mumbling or stuttering. If any team member stutters or mumbles, then the whole relay is reset back from the first player. After a few rounds of this warm-up, we debriefed as a class and discussed the uses of tongue-twisters and how they help us speak clearly and improve our enunciation. I also explained what enunciation and articulation mean, and why they are important in radio drama, which was also written on the whiteboard (snapshot below).

The performance part of the lesson was based on these Tongue Twister poems which I found online. The students formed groups of 3-4 members and were each given a different tongue-twister poem. They were told that the task is to dramatize this poem as much as they can, yet still deliver it clearly to the audience. They were encouraged to add music or sound effects, as long as it was all created by their voices (not using iPads or iPods).

The students were given about 15 minutes to prepare and rehearse, then they all performed their tongue-twister poem to the audience, while being recorded by the iPad (to facilitate their reflection and evaluation after the performance). After every performance, each group was given positive comments and useful suggestions from their peers. The last part of the lesson was time set aside for writing their four-sentence reflection using their reflection help-sheet, and after listening to their own performances to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses.

The lesson was quite entertaining, and it was very cool what they all came up with. I believe this lesson can also be used in an English/ESL/LOTE classroom to develop better enunciation and clarity of speech.

Year 6 students creating radio commercials!

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!

Introducing Slapstick Comedy to the year 7s!

Today, we started a new unit of work on ‘Slapstick Comedy’. This unit of work is designed for the year seven group. The students had a quick circle warm-up where one student would call-out an emotion and the rest would mirror that emotion with a lot of exaggeration, using body language, facial expressions, gestures, poses. The students laughed a lot at some of the responses.

After a quick debriefing/oral reflection about the warm-up and the skills involved, the students were divided into groups of 3 or 4 participants, and each given a piece of poster paper and a few markers. The students had to then watch ‘Gangnam Style‘ and respond to these three questions (which I prepared earlier as a Tumblr post). While the brainstorming questions are not necessarily focused on ‘slapstick comedy’ per se, the aim was to get students to deconstruct humour in general and what makes certain things ‘funny’. These questions are from Tom March’s Look-to-Learn Tumblr blog.

While the students were responding to the three questions on the poster paper, one member of each group was withdrawn to bring their iPad and access the typewith.me EtherPad and input their group’s responses. The students were very engaged and keen to see each group’s response as they were writing it. Here is a screenshot of their responses and a photo of the brainstorm posters.

We then had a quick discussion about their responses and arrived at the unit of work’s ‘significant concept’ which is: Different people laugh at different things. The class followed that with a discussion of the unit of work’s ‘area of interaction focus’ and ‘MYP unit question’. To conclude the lesson, we had a quick reflection activity where the students set three personal learning goals for this unit of work, in written format. The lesson was quite engaging, made use of ICT and incorporated group-work, brainstorming, discussion and reflection. Next week, we will focus more on slapstick comedy and define it and start looking at its features/elements.