Incite/Insight Winter 2019 FINAL Incite Insight Winter 2019 - Page 9

9 I n c i t e / I ns i ght W i n te r 20 1 9 When we consider the three guiding principles for Universal Design in Learning, a strong plan for an arts integrated theatre class presents itself organically: 1. Multiple Means of Representation a. We present the content in a variety of ways. Our residencies are focused on the life, inspirations, and work of August Wilson. This means our students are not only reading his plays, but they are watching clips of plays, movies, interviews, and speeches Wilson gave. b. W  ilson’s Four B’s - his four primary inspirations are the blues, Jorge Louis Borges, Amiri Baraka, and painter Romare Bearden i. M  any of our students will also study these four topics while they learn about Wilson. Often the sound of the blues can be heard in our classrooms, usually as the background for warm-ups, physical games, perhaps even as an alternative to study music. ii. Reading a scene or excerpt from an Amiri Baraka play expands the student’s knowledge of playwrights but also helps provide some insight into the style of writing in which Wilson found inspiration. iii. A  nytime a performing art class can use visual art to find inspiration, ideas, character, tone, and intention is a huge bonus. Not every student will feel comfortable performing. Visual representations, such as the work of Bearden, are other pathways to connecting to Wilson’s work. 2. Multiple Means of Action and Representation a. D  ifferentiating ways students can express themselves is almost second nature in a theatre classroom. Some lessons might include a written character biography exercise, others might as students to answer those same questions through a physical exploration of their character’s animal essence, and yet we can also have students express themselves by singing a song that they feel best represents what their character is feeling in their chosen monologue. b. This is an area where the partnership between our teaching artist and the classroom teacher becomes integral to the process. The classroom teacher’s intimate knowledge of their students, their needs, and the specific challenges each student might have academically provides our teaching artists an opportunity to create moments of learning and discovery that are specific to each student. 3. Multiple Means of Engagement a. R  epresentation matters. When students see themselves in the work their interest and engagement to that work increases. When you find yourself in the work, it’s easy for it to become a fascination, and engagement rises off the charts. b.  Fences seems to be one of the more popular plays in our schools, and I feel, personally, it’s because most of our students are at or very near Cory’s age. i. When a young man reads about Troy and Cory in Fences for the first time, that might be the first time he’s read a story that closely resembles his own relationship with his father. One of my former students still talks about the moment he understood his father in a way he couldn’t have considered before reading Fences. Troy’s story and the complexity of his relationships with his family provided a new perspective. ii. Countless young women have found themselves in Rose, and her loyalty to Troy despite how tumultuous their relationship is. The young women relate to Rose because, while they haven’t yet been married, they know what it feels like to pour yourself into a relationship and not get much in return.