Full Circle is a Great Feeling

I just experienced something amazing: a former student came to tell me that a lesson he’s learning in another class is familiar because he remembers it from my class. I love this job!

Last year this kid was in eighth grade. His class created a radio play whose central teaching point was the storytelling pyramid. The language arts teacher I collaborated with spent lots of time teaching the kids this image:

Today, this student from that project is writing a book on his own. His teacher this year showed him the story model from above. He just came to me and said, “Remember when we were doing our play last year and we learned this?”


Flash back to my classroom in spring 2006.My students wanted develop an original radio play. To achieve the goal, I teamed up with a language arts teacher. We pulled in lessons on storytelling, script development, playing an audio-only role, and sound effects.My class’ play is in pieces — we ran out of time to edit and assemble the final product. But that doesn’t make the project a failure. I learned some great lessons and am eager to undertake it again.Materials:

  • Computer (1 per team) with speakers,
  • Wiki (for script development) or word processor,
  • Microphone,
  • Sound recording and mixing software (Audacity is a free/open source option).

Tips:

  • Teams should have 4 or fewer students.
  • Introduce the topic with a lesson on radio drama. Listen to some examples.
  • Aim for a 5 minute production so you can pack everything into a reasonable schedule.
  • Use good microphones for sound effects or don’t even bother recording your own. If you’re using pre-recorded sound, lots of options are at Freesound.

One of the most unexpected lessons my students took away from the project was that working in an audio-only environment is challenging when you want to show something. Descriptive language and devices of dialogue helped the kids set the scene for the listener.

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