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Our Shame

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Writers:Chris Walsh & Evelyn Mann

This is a process drama written to explore a problem in the community. To substitute another issue the same or a similar structure could be used. The statements in the initial activity would be replaced with appropriate statements or pictures. A suitable poem would replace the one in this unit. This drama provides a structure to explore and research factual contexts for drama e.g. poverty, conservation, sustainability, the law, abuse, and war.

Key Question: How can we gain an understanding of the things that shame us, and use this to enable us to make a difference?

Key Understandings:

  • Many pressures are placed on parents and sometimes these result in tragic consequences.
  • Some parents don't know other ways of coping but do regret their behaviour.
  • Children have a right to be loved, nurtured and kept safe.
  • Many parents love their children even though they behave in an aggressive and violent manner.
  • Although resources are put in place to protect children it often seems to have little effect.
  • There are a variety of helping agencies available.

Connected Curriculum Areas:Health and Physical Education, Social Studies, English. Key Competencies - Relating to Others, Participating and Contributing, and Thinking.

Possible Learning Intentions and Indicators are offered for this drama. We acknowledge that there are many other possible learning intentions and that you might prefer to write you own in response to the needs of your students. The learning intentions offered are examples to choose from and to guide teachers new to drama in writing learning intentions. There is a variety of ways for collecting evidence to support learning.

Level Four

Possible Learning Intentions:Students will be able to:

  • Engage with a variety of dramatic conventions that have been structured by the teacher to explore ideas and share with others. PK DI CI
  • Work in a variety of roles to create and explore a complex life situation. PK DI
  • Experiment with elements of drama within conventions. PK DI CI
  • Use techniques in a deliberate and conscious manner. PK DI
  • Reflect on how their drama work has shaped their understanding of current issues in their society. UC

Develop Indicators with the students for Learning Intentions. Here is an example of indicators for the learning intention: Work in a variety of roles to create and explore a complex life situation. PK DI
Indicators: Students can

  • Convincingly take part in more than one role within the drama maintaining the narrative.
  • Convincingly portray roles that differ from one another experiencing different personalities and situations.
  • Contribute to the development of a role by asking questions that extend understanding of their life in the past.

Teacher In Role:

  • Editor - this role sets the distance frame of investigative journalists.
  • As "I" in the poem - this role is intended to give first hand experience of an individual's perspective on family life with all its complexities, issues and consequences.
Drama Resources available in New Zealand Schools

It is important that you refer to these resources to support the content in these plans.

  • Ministry of Education. 2001. Drama in the Classroom. Wellington: Learning Media. (Book and Video)
  • Ministry of Education. 2007. Drama Posters, 2007. Wellington: Learning Media,
  • Ministry of Education. 2006. Playing Our Stories. Wellington: Learning Media. (Book and DVD)
  • Ministry of Education. 2004. Telling Our Stories, Wellington: Learning Media. (Book and Video)
  • Ministry of Education. 2003. The New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars - The Arts. Wellington: Learning Media and the Learning Centre Trust of New Zealand.
Websites:
Resources applicable to this drama:

Learning Experiences

Teacher Notes

Forming Links To Our Prior Lives

In small groups students work to put together the puzzle of one of these statements per group:

Every five weeks a child is killed by a parent or caregiver in NZ.

Nobody likes to say it but we are a people who like to beat our children.

Our kids are getting a raw deal.

There is a dark side to life in this bright land.

Telling the truth about child abuse is the first step.

Each group glues the final sentence onto a large sheet of paper and discusses what it means.

Record statements of response beneath the sentence on the sheet.

Move around the other groups pages, read their sentences and responses and add any response you might have that differs from those already there.

Return to own group page and add any further responses.

 

 Prepare each sentence by cutting up into a puzzle and placing the pieces in an envelope.

 

 

 

 

Provide pens for each student to enable everyone to record at the same time. Remind students to read what others have written.

 

Allow about 3 to 4 minutes for each group at each statement, reading what is recorded and adding their responses if they wish.

Discuss drama, what it is, about being in role and get an agreement from the students that they will go into role as investigative journalists. Be sure the students understand what it means to be an investigative journalist.

Motivating the Work and Setting the Context

Teacher In Role: as the editor of a newspaper meeting with the paper's top investigative journalists: News of yet another child who has been killed by a caregiver has just been heard. The editor makes an impassioned plea to the journalists who have been invited here today because they have the reputations of being the most talented and empathetic journalists in the country. Not only that, but they have also shown from their past reporting how clever they are at digging underneath surfaces to bring important information out in the open that has previously just been ignored or swept under the mat. The task the editor has for them - of course they will be paid top money for a job well done - is to try and find out just what is happening in our families, and to decide how best to make the news public, in order to convince the government and help agencies to make some changes in the way things are done.

S/he will reiterate that s/he knows there is no easy or quick fix solution - but of course as investigative journalists having seen some of the sights they have seen - they already know that. They know that the world is a difficult and complex place at times. We need to get the public talking about the issue and the complexities - all NZ should be aghast and horrified and be prepared to do anything they can to ensure that every child has a safe and supportive childhood. The editor has found one person who is prepared to talk a little bit - maybe that would be a good starting point for the journalists.

In role as journalists the students make notes from the brief.

 

TIR should show a range of emotions as s/he speaks.

Building the Narrative

Introduce the poem

I Had A Rough Time With Three Kids By Myself

Working in small groups the students elect a reader. Listen to the poem and share ideas about what is happening.

The students share their responses to the questions in the whole class group.

As journalists record questions and further information in notebooks.

 

The emphasis here is on communicating ideas to one another. The group work is to encourage the students to develop their own ideas about who "I" is.

Questions you might ask to guide discussion:
 - What do we know? (Gathering the facts)
 - What do we think might have happened?
 - What do we want to know?
 - What type of family are they?
 - What kind of upbringing have they had?

Freeze Frames: in small groups (3/5) - each to make a different image. (There may be more than one of each of the images listed below.)

  1. "I" remembering something from the past as s/he would have liked it to have been.
  2. "I" remembering something from the past as it actually was.
  3. "I's" children remembering something from their childhood as they would have liked it to have been.
  4. "I's" children remembering something from their childhood as it actually was.

Have the groups quickly share their images.

Sharing and Interpreting Images: Share these images twice. The first time each image is shared on its own. The second time, pair the contrasting images, 1 with 2, and 3 with 4 and add Spoken Thoughts. Look at each of the paired pictures and discuss as investigative journalists what is actually happening.

Choose one of the images; number 4 would be best. Ask the audience group to direct the children in the image into position representing when the children were babies. What would have been happening with "I" when the children were babies? Now the audience group adjusts the others to preschoolers? Junior school children? Year 7/8? High School?

As journalists students update information in their notebooks.

Count the group in to share 3, 2, 1 freeze. The teacher might comment on the use of techniques and use of space, drawing attention to strong models.
 After all the images have been shared the teacher challenges the groups to strengthen their images and make them 'more real'. Questions you might ask:
 - Look closely at gestures and positions of bodies. What might happen if you adjust them slightly?

This gives the students a chance to explore the sub text and the well intentioned parent who just can't seem to match the actions with the intentions.

Questions you might ask to unwrap the images:
 - What might be happening here?
 - How might this have happened?
 - If they so clearly know what it should have been like why wasn't it?

Work this to demonstrate changes over time. Talk about the changes that have been made - everyone could have some input into deciding on the changes. Is there any time in the children's life where there is more pressure on "I"? Why is this? Or why not? What could we do to alleviate that pressure?

Performance Poetry: There are four verses in the poem. Each group takes one verse to work with. The group decides how to play the verse. Present it as a scene to the journalists who are listening and can react to what they see or hear as the words are spoken. No new text can be added although it can be repeated or abbreviated. Present in sequence of the poem and ensure a clear opening and ending. Where is "I" when she is speaking?
 Who is with her?
 How would she speak the words?
 Would she be angry? Sad? Confused?
 With long pauses? Rushing through the words?

Gossip Circle: what are the rumours circulating about this family? Each student invents, passes on, and exaggerates what is being said around circle.

 

The students write in role, recording as journalists the notes they have collected so far and any questions still to be answered.

This is a useful way of generating background information or rumour about the situation. In reflective discussion you might ask:
 What sort of information have you collected?

Think about what you have just heard and determine what parts of that information you might use and why.

Hot Seat: TIR as "I" to be interviewed by the students in role as journalists. What sort of questions would you ask? How do they feel about "I"? How would you treat "I"? What would be the best way to get information from that person? You must try and get a photograph for the front page - will "I" let you take a photo?

Remind the students that this person has reluctantly volunteered to be interviewed to explain if they want to get useful information they need to be careful with their questions.

"Part of the trick of successful teacher in role is making the task nearly, but not quite, impossible - like any good puzzle." (O'Toole & Dunne, 2002, p.49)

See Drama Posters - Poster 1, Image 8 & 9.

Writing in Role: When the interview is finished discuss what you found out and how the newspaper should tell the story.

Students write in role as journalists adding to their notes.

Knowing what we know now why might this be happening? Is there an "angle" that could be developed?

For example poverty, help agencies (where were they?), government funding, other particular groups in society (the poor, the critical, the wealthy, alcohol/drugs) to explore societal perceptions.

Overheard Conversations: in small groups as one of the following:

  1. The neighbours talking about that family.
  2. The social workers discussing the family.
  3. The teachers from the school the children attend discussing "I", the children and their progress/behaviour at school.
  4. The people who work in and organize programmes for parents and children discussing the family. (Brainstorm the possibilities)

Discuss the different ways different groups react to what is happening in the family.

In role as journalists students add further notes in their notebooks.

 

The groups begin in role, a discussion about the family allowing enough time to explore the way that particular group is reacting to what is happening in the family.

Once the conversations are established (about a minute) stop everyone, get each group in turn to continue for a short time allowing everyone to overhear their conversation.

Working in role reflecting on the issues of the drama and bringing the drama to conclusion.

Spoken Thoughts: Take up a space in the room by yourself and become one of "I's" now adult children, whom "I" said she loved so much.

Think about your life and the poem and what "I" was saying.

Freeze in the stance/pose of that person and make one statement about "I" and the life they had or the poem she has written.

Teacher moves around the room touching the shoulder of each person in turn to indicate they are to speak their thought. After speaking the thoughts the student refreezes.

Writing in role as investigative journalists:

What do you know now? In groups discuss what you know, what needs to be reported, and what advice you could give to people in this situation and to the wider public.

In role as a journalist they write a feature article.

They will need a headline and leader to hook the readers in.

It would be a good idea for students to chart some of their ideas as prompt for writing their feature article.

Some English teaching on report writing might be necessary at this point.

Report could be written as class, group or individual.

Reflective Circle: Students form a circle and one at a time they give a piece of advice they would like to make to parents who are like "I". (Limit to one sentence each.)

Questions you might ask in reflection at the completion of the drama.

How did they find the drama?
 What sort of feelings do they have now about the work?
 What parts had the most impact?
Why?

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