Despite time restraints, we are feeling the Christmas magic, have great ideas and are confident about showing off the students' talents. We are both devising together with the students, by finding connections between activities that work well and developing them into a small routine.
For something to work well it usually adheres to the following criteria - the students are engaged and focused - there is a definite flow of creativity energy coming from the students - progress is made throughout the duration of the activity (students respond better, understand more, feel more).
This last few weeks we have been using a combination of exercises the students already know and are familiar with, and new exercises, whilst paying particular attention to exercises that 'work'.
With one group of teenage girls we are focusing on different devises you can use to tell stories. Their English is very good so I can really do a lot with them and get a lot out of them.
Today we started by playing with still images which either did or didn't come alive when I clapped my hands. I started simple (happy/sad) but then went more abstract (power/weakness) then even more abstract (red/blue). The idea is they do not think, but immediately sculpt their bodies into an abstract image to represent the word I say. They should use their whole bodies and not just their face and arms (which shyer students are prone to doing).
We then played with frozen scenes, so they created a bullying scene, Christmas scene (family with children opening presents), market scene, pub scene, and so on, before they created their own for me (they did restaurant and bus - very well!). When I clapped, they would bring each scene to life.
Students at the pub pictured below!
We then worked with stories. I assigned one group Little Red Riding Hood, and another group were free to choose their own story and they made 60 second plays by acting the whole thing in less than one minute.
The other group chose Cinderella which had some particularly strong images in it, so I decided to use this for the next activity which was to show the story using only 5 frozen scenes. I sat with my eyes closed and got them to say 'open' when they were positioned ready for scene 1, then close as they got into their positions for scene 2, and so on. Over the next few weeks we will explore other devices such as flashforwards and backwards, genre changing (e.g making a 'real-life' version of a story) and character changing (well-known characters from other stories find themselves in a new story), ready for our end of term show!