Teacher Tuesday

Katy Van Aken dreaming of her first year-end play

Last week, my friend from Swayzee Elementary, Katy Van Aken, spelled out how she came to close the school year with class plays and how she and her students pulled it off. Today, we wrap up the interview with Katy with thoughts on the whys of such an undertaking.

Tell us about the final results of this project.   
SRO for all 3 performances! Our audience was packed with family members, students, and staff.  On the last day of school, kids from my class and others borrowed books by the bagful for summer reading!
What do you think your students gained from this year-end activity?   
Favorite Parts of Favorite Books’ empowered my students with confidence. They experienced a celebration of their interests and talents – many newly discovered! – and a journey filled with great reading, choices, higher level thinking, countless decisions, ah-ha! moments, creativity, ideas on top of ideas, teamwork, compromise, responsibility, and the joy of accomplishment.  They invented, engineered, re-engineered, ad-libbed, cheered for each other, and laughed too hard to stand!  Without a doubt, it took ALL of us to do this. It was a present to ourselves and our audience that took the entire school year to unwrap. 
Why would you recommend other teachers try this activity?  
The plays captured students’ energy and interests, keeping them fully engaged up to the last minute of the last day, applying the skills we’d worked on all year. Best of all, the plays generated a HUGE interest in reading!
What was the biggest surprise for you as this activity played out over the years?   
When we began to work on the plays, students begged to come to school early, stay after, and work through recess.  WOW!
What else would you like to tell the readers of this blog about these year-end plays?   
Favorite Parts of Favorite Books, including scripts, practice, costumes, and scenery, can be adapted to any grade level or classroom. The plays can be presented one at a time to celebrate a unit, theme, or grading period. Have a ball!
Katy, THANK YOU!! I’m sure there are hundreds of teachers out there who will now consider adapting this project for their students! 
Thank you dearly for this opportunity to share one of my classroom passions! Here are a few photos of my champions in action:
From Island, removing the bullet

From Hattie Big Sky, Wolf Point train station scene
Here are the books we’ve used.  Several have been chosen more than once.
The Sign of the Beaver,  Maniac Magee,  Holes,  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Surviving the Applewhites,  The Cry of the Icemark,  The Game of Sunken Places, East,  The Door to Time,  Dragon Rider,  The Elevator Family,  The King’s Equal,  Inkheart,  The Palace of Mirrors,  Crash,  Just Ella,  Island Book 3: Escape, The Name of This Book is Secret,  The 39 Clues Book 6: In Too Deep,  Kanines (a student’s novel based on the Warriors series),  Wolf Brother,  39 Clues Book 1: The Maze of Bones,  Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,  Hattie Big Sky,  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,  43 Old Cemetery Road – Over My Dead Body,  Magic, and al
l 5 books in the The Underland Chronicles: Gregor the Overlander, The Prophecy of Bane, Curse of the Warmbloods, Marks of Secret, Code of Claw
Thank you, Katy, for sharing in such an in-depth way. Your passion and enthusiasm illustrate what’s GREAT about our nation’s teachers.

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