Critically acclaimed children’s book author James Stevenson created a character years ago who has become a great source for inspiration and instruction in our third grade class. As you might imagine, The Worst Person in the World possesses those negative qualities most would choose to reject in a human being, but in the end, after experiencing a cathartic metamorphosis, The Worst endears himself to us, and we find ourselves “a little changed” too.
What is REALLY important to us? About what do we REALLY care?
Oftentimes, we find what is dearest to us at the intersection of joy and pain. These two emotional paths accompany us as we journey through life, twisting, turning and intertwining.
A primary goal of the opera is to deliver a powerful message that kids feel a strong desire to share with the public. This message emerges from exploring the opera theme in-depth and determining a point of view, or thesis. To arrive at a theme, one that resonates with every company member, we discuss that which “brings us great joy” and that which “hurts our hearts.”
As a homework assignment I asked the students to bring in a special object that represents something meaningful to them, something about which they care deeply. The conversation that ensued as we sat in a circle clutching our precious commodities was emotional and enlightening. Little people think and feel profoundly. [Read more…] about Digging Deep, Uncovering Theme (Photos & Video)
Understanding, analyzing and interpreting story elements is a significant part of the elementary language arts curriculum. While learning the components of narrative, and thinking from the perspective of the reader and the writer, Lightning Strike Kids Opera Company must know these elements on a profound level in order to create an original story. Characters, setting, plot, conflict, resolution, etc. The students must also know the theatrical elements that bring a story to life on stage. For soon, they will apply, audition and be hired for jobs as lighting designers, set designers, costume and make-up designers, actors, writers, composers, public relations officers, production and stage managers.
[Read more…] about From Consensus to Construction (Video)
Why do companies have logos? Which logos capture our attention and draw us in? What design best represents our company and what we believe?
These questions led us to contemplate, design and defend a company logo. Every student drew how Lightning Strike should be represented visually. After casting an attentive eye, students voted. Three logos quickly gained approval as best representing who we are. With articulate defense and another round of voting, we had a winner.
After the challenge was accomplished, the children wrote about their feelings.
What’s in a name?
Who are we as a group? What do we represent? What is our purpose? What face do we want to show the world?
LIGHTNING STRIKE says it all.
Spending four weeks getting to know one another has given rise to a host of amazing metaphors that led us to determine our company name.
We began this process thinking about our common experiences, the books we have read, the team exercises and challenges we have worked through and the songs we have sung. The idea of who we are began to surface as we thought of ourselves through metaphor.
The most powerful metaphors were a mirror, presented our first day of school while thinking about what we see, a dot, coming directly from Peter Reynold’s inspirational children’s book, and lightning, an idea generated through an experience with a Congolese fishing song.
We cannot design, create, produce and stage an original opera without collaboration, without teamwork. We must acquire these skills in order to apply them FOR REAL.
Working to accomplish a collective goal with twenty-four students is no easy feat, especially when the teacher steps away, leaving the kids to work through the trials and tribulations that accompany a group challenge.
A large plastic tarp lay on the floor, a magic carpet. The company has been flying for quite some time on this filthy, reeking, germ infested rug and can stand it no longer. The company challenge . . . to turn the carpet over, revealing its clean, fragrant side, without stepping off. If someone steps off or touches the floor in any way, the company must start the challenge again.
In order to become true mathematicians and critical thinkers, we must first understand that not every problem has only one correct answer and there are multiple ways to arrive at a solution. In the process of creating an original opera, students encounter daily opportunities to apply their math thinking in authentic contexts.
The first day of school we posed an open-ended question to initiate the process of solving multi-step problems and to introduce the concept of the opera. We presented a problem that would naturally and logically incorporate the skills and strategies of our first quarter math curriculum.
How much time do we have to prepare for our opera?
Having this information is imperative in order to plan for the opera. Our purpose was clear. We needed this information FOR REAL.
Join us as we, a third grade class of twenty-six students at Stedwick Elementary School, embark on a year-long adventure creating an original opera. Read about our weekly challenges and accomplishments as we move through the creative process using opera as an authentic vehicle to learn curriculum and 21st century skills.
We begin with the question, “What do I see?” This question will serve as a focus on the concept of perspective and will thread its way through all academic subjects and essential learning experiences throughout the year.