This term, the year 6 classes are studying Radio Drama. I have posted previously about how they created radio commercials to explore the creative potential of the voice. We also had a chance to perform poems to apply characterisation techniques to voice. Then we attempted to develop better enunciation and articulation by performing tongue-twister poems in this tongue-twisting lesson. The class also had the opportunity to explore voice projection and create their own radio interviews.
The year 6 classes are studying Radio Drama. I have posted previously about how they created radio commercials to explore the creative potential of the voice. We also had a chance to perform poems to apply characterization techniques to voice. Then we attempted to develop better enunciation and articulation by performing tongue-twister poems in this tongue-twisting lesson.
The next lesson in this unit of work is ‘radio interviews’. The learning objectives for this lesson are:
1) to develop better voice projection
2) to create a radio interview
The warmup chosen was a voice-projection exercise where the students form pairs and then line up facing each other. The pairs then start a conversation, until they are instructed to move three feet away from each other, and continue the conversation. After about 30 seconds, they move another three feet away from each other, and so on. After the warmup, we debriefed as a class to explore the benefits of this warmup, and the skills it allows us to practice, and how it linked to voice projection.
After the debriefing, I explained the new theoretical material for the lesson. I explained what voice projection is and how performers can use certain strategies to improve their voice projection. The students were told that they will have an opportunity to practice those strategies through a simple performance exercise: radio interviews.
The task required the students to form groups of 3-4 members, pick a celebrity/cartoon-character to interview and write up five questions and answers. Each group had to have 1 or 2 radio hosts asking the questions, and the remaining group members play the chosen character/characters or celebrity/celebrities who answer the questions (in character). Each performance also had to include a jingle for the radio station, created by the students’ voices.
The students were told that for this performance the audience members will sit at the very back end of the room (as far away from the performance space as possible), and so the performers really had to project their voice if they want to be heard.
The task was very engaging for the students. One group interviewed Spongebob Squarepants, and another interviewed Bart Simpson. Most of the boys decided to interview famous sports-stars I haven’t even heard of (sports isn’t really my strong point)! The audience members gave the performers positive comments and useful suggestions after every performance, because I like to allow my students to step into the “critic’s shoes”. To wrap up the lesson, the students had to write an ‘exit slip‘ explaining what they learned today and what they found enjoyable.
Overall, the lesson was a success, the students created some fantastic performances, and most groups projected their voice well enough! This lesson can also be adapted and used in any subject: interviewing a scientist in Science, a mathematician in Maths, a book author in English/ESL/LOTE etc…
Here is a radio interview created by a group of girls who decided to interview Bart Simpson. There is also a snapshot of the whiteboard, and some of the exit slips!
Today’s year 6 Drama lesson was wholly devoted to articulation and enunciation. As part of the unit of work on ‘Radio Drama’, one of the learning objectives is to “develop better articulation and enunciation”. This lesson comes after a poetry theatre lesson where students experimented with voice as a tool to create different characters. Before that, the students had also created their own radio commercials, which was an attempt to explore the creative potential of the voice.
Today’s lesson had a bit of a twist to it, literally! The whole lesson was built around tongue twisters, which are often used to develop better articulation and enunciation. The lesson started with a tongue-twister relay as the warm-up: students form teams of five, and then they are all given the same tongue-twister, where each member has to say it three times without mumbling or stuttering. If any team member stutters or mumbles, then the whole relay is reset back from the first player. After a few rounds of this warm-up, we debriefed as a class and discussed the uses of tongue-twisters and how they help us speak clearly and improve our enunciation. I also explained what enunciation and articulation mean, and why they are important in radio drama, which was also written on the whiteboard (snapshot below).
The performance part of the lesson was based on these Tongue Twister poems which I found online. The students formed groups of 3-4 members and were each given a different tongue-twister poem. They were told that the task is to dramatize this poem as much as they can, yet still deliver it clearly to the audience. They were encouraged to add music or sound effects, as long as it was all created by their voices (not using iPads or iPods).
The students were given about 15 minutes to prepare and rehearse, then they all performed their tongue-twister poem to the audience, while being recorded by the iPad (to facilitate their reflection and evaluation after the performance). After every performance, each group was given positive comments and useful suggestions from their peers. The last part of the lesson was time set aside for writing their four-sentence reflection using their reflection help-sheet, and after listening to their own performances to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses.
The lesson was quite entertaining, and it was very cool what they all came up with. I believe this lesson can also be used in an English/ESL/LOTE classroom to develop better enunciation and clarity of speech.
Thanks to the 6C students, here are some more examples from the year 6 assessment task ‘Radio Commercials’ as part of a unit of work on ‘Radio Drama’:
The lesson starts with a warm-up I got from The Drama Notebook called ‘color your nursery rhyme’. As a class, we select a nursery rhyme and practice saying it in different ways: angrily, like a crying baby, like an opera singer, happily etc…
The class then debriefs about the warm-up and reflects on the skills practiced, then we link it to and discuss the theoretical part of the lesson (written on the whiteboard, here’s a snapshot of it).
The poem I chose is ‘Homework I Love You’ by Kenn Nesbitt. The groups were each given 15 minutes to discuss what sort of voice their character would have, and to rehearse delivering the poem using that voice. Then we set-up a curtain and the students had to perform behind it, with the picture of the character pinned to the curtain. After every performance, the audience were asked to act like critics and give either positive comments or useful suggestions for improvement.
To conclude the lesson, the students spent about fifteen minutes writing in their drama journal (which is more like a ‘portfolio’) using the reflection help-sheet. Here is a snapshot of one student’s four-sentence reflection.
I believe this lesson could also be used in an English and ESL classroom to get students to think about speaking and how vocal variety affects the audience’s attention to your speech.
Here is a nice video created by students who decided to rap their poem, this was all prepared using GarageBand and iMovie!
This term, the year 6s are studying radio drama! This unit of work is designed to introduce them to the creative potential of the voice (as one of the actor’s main tools). It follows a unit of work on mime and pantomime, which was used to introduce them to the creative and communicative potential of their bodies (the other main tool any actor has). In previous lessons they have learnt that the voice can be used to create spoken language, music/jingles and sound effects/soundscapes. They have had several chances to apply techniques to produce these different sounds.
Today’s lesson was one in which they would learn the many ways a performer can change the sound of their own voice (playing with pitch, volume, tone, emphasis and accents). The lesson started with a warm-up in which they had to find different ways of delivering a tongue-twister: “You know you need unique New York, but does unique New York need you?” Some students sang it, some said it in an angry tone, some delivered it like a crying baby, some said it using several accents etc… It was lots of fun.
We then moved on to a discussion about the many ways a performer can change the sound of their own voice and asked some students to demonstrate, linking it back to the warm-up. After the discussion, I explained the task instructions which were written on the whiteboard. The students had to move into groups of 3-4 students to create a 1-minute radio commercial about an imaginary product that I assigned their group. Examples of products used: smart machine to make you smarter in your sleep, dog collar with GPS tracking, and magic seasoning that makes any dish taste amazing (for more wonderful ideas, refer to the Drama Notebook). The radio commercial had to include music/jingles, sound effects and spoken language, and each student had to change the sound of their voice in at least one way. The students heard a couple of radio commercials as a demonstration and then were given 10 minutes to quickly prepare and rehearse.
The performances were all recorded using my iPad (name of app: QuickVoice). The students then had to listen to their commercials to help them in their reflection and evaluation (to assess Criterion C – Reflection and Evaluation). The first part of the task is to write their four-sentence reflection using the reflection help-sheet (pictures below).
The students then had to use the checklist to assess their own performance and the self-evaluation template to evaluate their commercial (pictures below).
The last step was to self-assess their ability to reflect and evaluate and give themselves a mark out of 8 for Criterion C (rubric pictured below).
Here is a successful example produced today by a group of 3 boys advertising a car-repairing business. The commercial included sound effects, a jingle and spoken language, and the boys made use of accents and other ways to change the sound of their voice. Enjoy!