This is how my team did it last year- we all brainstormed ideas for a topic, & everyone came back with research and presented a 2-5 minute presentation on their findings. We narrowed down the topic. Brainstormed who the best experts would be to contact to ask questions. Brainstormed what questions we would ask them. Had our secretary write down the questions. Assigned two of the older kids to draft an email to send to the experts (This could have been done as a group letter writing skill, but we were only looking for 10-15 minutes bits as we covered all topics in each meeting). All kids went home and came back with the emails or contacts of at least one expert to send the letter to. The letter writers came back with the draft, which was revised by the group and then were given the contacts of important experts to send the letter to. My team sent the letter to 15 geneticists around the world (topic last year was Body Wars). Six wrote
us back; 3, we corresponded with several times in a back and forth question answer session. At least two of the researchers told me they looked me up to see who I was and felt comfortable answering the my questions since I seemed like "a real person". So word to the wise, while the kids draft the letter, the coach's name should also be signed at the bottom. During our gathering of expert evaluation of the kid's solution to their problem, the kids worked on their presentation.
I've worked with lots of youth group drama projects before, and when the kids are the ones writing the original play, we start like this: Once the problem/plot is identified, each child comes to the table with his or her idea for the play- this is a ROUGH, general idea about the plot of the play- like a sentence that describes the play. (ex. "A woman's child has a disease, and she goes to the doctor's to see what options her child has to prevent an early death." Grim, but it was body wars. or "A new coach has a foreign soccer team and no one speaks the same language. They need to invent a robot so they can all communicate.") Once all the ideas are listed, we brainstormed and voted on the play's plot. ( I have a three tier voting system-the first time you can vote on any play plot that you like. Then we take the top three or four and everyone can only vote once. Then we get down to the last two ideas, and we vote a final time. ) The kids
generally combine the last two ideas, proving once again that many minds are used to make one great idea- and it generally makes the kids feel better working on an idea when they feel they all have input.
Then we start a "director's scene log", which is like a series of movements through the play, but has no written dialogue. Again, each child writes out their vision of the movement through the play. Everyone reads their director's log out, and after voting to try one or two of the plays, or combining their favorite parts of several logs, we add in any important props that must be touched, moved or handled and then make a master Director's log. There is no pre-written dialogue, the kids get to free form the dialogue as they move through the play, feeling the skit out. The kids will naturally say things, like, "oh that was really funny, say that next time too." (tip: get someone to write this down.) Or "no, you can't run around shouting here because then we can't hear the doctor speak." As we got new information from our experts in, the kids added or subtracted dialogue. This time, we ended up having to write a script since
free forming it seemed to loose a lot of important information. The kids asked to write their scripts, but I have had teams that never wrote a final script and were great. Each team wrote their lines together, and then we practiced saying the lines loud enough to be heard. We practiced the play a lot. Props should be gotten as early as possible, and wardrobe should be finalized with at least enough time to try the play out in full costume for 3 presentations.
I highly encourage you to film the presentations, before and after final wardrobe. I don't do a lot of directing since if you set it up well, they direct themselves. Let them see themselves, & they will find all the areas you hoped they would improve upon. Quiet ppl realize their issue, and 90% of the time will speak up if they get to see themselves on the big screen and can't be heard. All the talking in the world will not get them to be loud enough to be heard three rows back, but one good "movie review" can do wonders. Ask questions about areas you see need improvement, and get the parents of kids to watch a play rehearsal and get the kids to ask questions of the audience- Did you know what my job was? Did you understand what was happening? Did you understand where/when the play took place? What was your favorite part? Could you hear me/us? etc. Parents are really nice, but they will usually point out to the
kids where they need to clarify. Sometimes, because I'm so close to the action and I know what's happening, even I miss that part of their play that is incomprehensible to the new viewer and seemed to make no sense what so ever. Siblings can be harsher, though that isn't always terrible, but younger sibling don't always know what's happening in the play even when the parents do, so kinda limit how often little Susy gets to input on what part makes sense to her.
Of course, the whole process of this is to make the kids in control of their presentation, all for members to have input so they feel heard, and to produce the highest quality project that the group can reach. I've had groups where some kids just weren't actors, weren't really interesting in acting and were, in fact, upset that they would be asked to be in the presentation. Hopefully, your number of this particular kind of student is less than 1/4. You can not help this, but that doens't mean they can't be on stage and certainly does not take them out of helping make the presentation. My answer so far has been "the human prop". While a human coat rack is an unusual feature for a hospital, it is funny in an odd way and allows all members a part in the play that meets their skills. Also any signage that must be walked across the stage is an excellent job for the quiet- doens't-like-to- speak-to- new- ppl team member; Even if all they do is
present a sign that introduces the play and then flips it to end the play. In my team, everyone must be on stage, but not everyone talks.
So that how we did our presentation from start to finish last year. We got 1st in research for Division 2 at the regional tournament and were able to get 4th place overall. My team is much stronger this year than last in programming so I'm hoping they make it into the top 3, but one never knows!
Good luck to your team,
From: Jeff & Stephanie Campbell <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Saturday, July 23, 2011 8:42 AM
Subject: [VADCFLL-L] project
Just wondering if anyone has any good ideas for dividing up the research aspect of the project and putting together the power point with 9 and 10 year olds. I know we’re not supposed to “take over,” but I want to be ready to guide. This is our first year as coaches. We’d like to go ahead and get the research part completed so we’ll have more time for the mission.
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