Every building has them. Those spaces and places that can sometimes go unoccupied or unused because they don’t fall under the idea of a typical locale for learning. With the revamping and restructuring of so many classrooms to break free of the traditional desks, rows, and conformity (GEI Article: Rethinking Desks in a Row), it’s time to start thinking even further outside of the classroom box and start tapping into other areas in the building. School auditoriums are a great place to start. Teachers should be scrambling to get their classes into it and let learning take center stage!
Taking the stage
Any “trip” outside of the classroom adds a little extra excitement to the school day routine. It can also add a big impact when it comes to learning. What better place is there to have students try their acting chops from Romeo and Juliet or The Diary of Anne Frank than on an actual stage? Scene direction and staging take on a whole new meaning when students are able to visualize the story unfolding on the stage. This gives classes a great opportunity to gain an appreciation for all the nuances that go into playwriting and screenwriting. It is also a great strategy to boost reading comprehension by giving students a tangible visualization of the text.
Acting out a few key scenes from a studied play helps students gain an understanding of the detail required when they are asked to create their own theatrical pieces. Sitting in the auditorium is the perfect place for students to write out an extended scene, alternate ending, or deleted scene from a play. Viewing the stage will help them determine the staging and scene direction that would be required. Another creative writing opportunity would be to have students take a scene from a novel or short story and adapt it for the stage. Depending on time restraints, these may or may not be performed, but writing with the stage in sight can help with working out the details.
While an ELA class may seem the most fitting for scripting and performance, there are multiple ways to get other subject areas up on stage. Step up a history lesson with a re-enactment that helps students gain an understanding of the personal and emotional piece tied to historical events. Bring story problems to life by letting the story unfold on the stage as the audience solves the problem. Have students perform animal charades as the audience guesses which species is being portrayed based on the movements and habits displayed.
More than just the stage
The stage is a great place for groups to perform, guest speakers to enlighten, and students to present in a more formalized setting. While the stage is the major focal point in an auditorium, it’s not the largest space. The seating area offers a lot of opportunities for teachers of all subjects to get creative. These are just a few activities to get things started:
- Scavenger Hunts — Kids, young and old, love scavenger hunts, but the logistics and supervision within a school building can be too overwhelming to undertake. Auditorium seating can put those worries to rest. Even if rows and seats aren’t lettered and/or numbered, determining location can become a part of the clue. Clues can be hidden on or under seats, on the stage, or in other areas of the auditorium. To get the next clue, teams may need to solve a problem, answer a question, or complete a task. Upon completion, they may have to check in with the teacher for a clue envelope or determine the next clue location based on the answer derived, whether numeric for a seat number or based on a location described. Perfect for a unit review.
- Measuring Labs — Take one of the largest spaces in the school and let students estimate, measure, and solve. The long aisles are also great for launching paper or straw rockets and completing a lab with prediction, distance, velocity, etc.
- Perspective Study — Such a large space is a great opportunity for a study on perspective, and there’s no need to worry about whether the weather will cooperate. Students can view, sketch, and/or photograph objects or spaces from different perspectives. And if granted access, the stage lighting offers a great opportunity to manipulate shadow and shading.
- Space for Space — Put size and distance into perspective by using the length of the auditorium to plot the major components of our solar system. Seats can also be used to visualize ratios of populations, land size, or other statistical data.
Whether they’re performing, plotting, or problem-solving, the auditorium is a great venue for taking learning to new heights. Both students and teachers can benefit from the fresh perspective that a new learning space offers. What other unused learning spaces in your school are waiting to be discovered?