Maine’s Positive Story of the Day from Hall-Dale High School in Farmingdale ~
At Hall-Dale High School, English Teacher Brandon Terrill has teamed up with local educator and improv comedian Dennis Price to deliver a unit to our English 9 classes that combines Improv Activities with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
Classes begin with 10-15 minutes of improv activities. Students are up out of their seats standing in a circle. The improv activities include word associations, body movement/energy, rhythm, wordplay, storytelling, puns, and jokes. Nothing is scripted or prepared ahead of time. Everything is improvised on the spot. Students must work together for the games to work effectively, whether it’s keeping a consistent rhythm or playing off of what the last student in line said.
The improv activities activate students’ brains and allow for kinesthetic learning in the ELA classroom. Feedback collected from students indicates that improv helps lower students’ stress levels, increases their engagement, and primes their brains for content-area learning.
As we moved through the unit, Mr. Price adapted the improv activities to directly tie into Romeo and Juliet. Students take on the roles of characters and improvise the connections between characters or analyze the play’s themes. In others, students mimic Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter.
Classes transition from improv activities to enacting and analyzing Romeo and Juliet. Students report feeling much more prepared to access the Shakespeare material after having completed the improv activities. The rhythm of Shakespeare and the way actors on the stage have to improvise and play off of each others’ cues is much more accessible to students after the improv activities. The enactment and analysis of the play are so much richer and more effective. We have helped to create another generation of Shakespeare fans!
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