Fifth grade has had a blast writing our play this winter. We have been using the “Performance Cycle,” a series of drama based activities designed as part of the Arts Literacy Project, to celebrate and think deeply about the book Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, written by Chris Grabenstein. Arts Literacy was founded by Eileen Landy and Kurt Wooton to create and organize curricula and pedagogy focused on connecting literacy learning and the arts.
We have been very fortunate to have Eileen join us for this work. She has been mentoring the students and me as we have delved into our understanding of the themes, characters, and mystery in the book through drama, writing, and visual arts. It has been an honor working with Eileen. From her, I have learned about utilizing students’ innate desire to move and actively create as a way to build understanding of a book and of literacy concepts. As we were delving into the personalities of the different characters in the book, we led the students through a series of improvisational moments that showed these characteristics. I saw students who are usually timid about sharing their ideas and opinions open up with dramatic flair and teach us very refined insights into characters. These ideas and others that emerged through our Arts Literacy work served as fodder for the scripts that fifth graders wrote based on scenes in the play. The lines they gave characters really illustrated the character traits we had discovered through improvising and thus evidenced their strong comprehension of this novel.
We will perform the play we have created next Wednesday, March 11, at 1:00 and 6:00. Everyone is excited: this performance counts as a celebration of our learning, reflection, and creativity throughout the past 5 weeks.
By Carolyn Garth, 5th grade teacher