Accessing Multiple Intelligences
Another aspect of my freelance work was in Creative Drama. For a while I worked with Education Majors at Illinois State University, in Bloomington-Normal. I held summer classes for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students on a variety of subjects. Ed majors sat around the outside of the classroom as observers. One example was the use of an acting impulse circle to demonstrate the circulatory system. Students passed around a red rag to explain how the heart works. The system expanded to include the lungs, and the ventricles of the heart, and how the blood is oxygenated. This was all done using red and blue rags and groups of students to represent the lungs and heart and blood vessels. Later similar approaches illustrated nerve functions and hearing. Vocabulary and biological systems were reinforced in this way. One day one of my young students asked about the adults in the class. I explained that they were trying to learn how to be good teachers. I then asked the room to switch places and put the adults in the middle and let the little ones sit on the outside. They then got to dialog about the situation and their discoveries. A little girl had recently lost a dog, and this gave the inner group of adults a chance to share their experiences of loss and grief. One of the adult students later remarked that he did not realize how intelligent younger kids really were.
At Kaimuki High School, I was hired by the English Language Arts department to teach workshops in preparation for the school’s first Shakespeare festival. I was able to work in 6 different classes creating individual workshops to coincide with each class’s curricula. One teacher used themes to teach his course. I joined the class while they were investigating “Mortality”. I had the students create fantasy guilds in which they would create and perform a funeral service. The wide range of guilds were creative; vampires, canoe paddlers, clowns and others were created along with the rules of each guild. Metaphors and paradigms of each guild were visualized and then a funeral service was enacted in the class.
In another course, the class was engaged in free-writing exercises. After reading the countless dreary observations of whatever was happening outside the window, I created an exercise where a variety of shapes were drawn on the board. We discussed negative space and how rotation changed the objects considerably. The students made and then shared lists of the things these silhouettes resembled. They then had to use this list to free write their stories. The students were excited by the unusual stories that followed. This changed their view of writing exercises and enabled them to begin working to adapt scenes for the festival. This 3-day festival has been such a success that it has become an annual event. Exercises like these created a comfortable segue for classes to participate in the Festival.
I continue to use such approaches in all of my classes (regardless of the subject) as a way to engage and energize the group. It is a useful way to change the pace and to create cooperative learning.