Veteran’s Day and Oral Histories

November, 2011

With Veteran’s Day coming up, it’s an appropriate time to check out FCIT’s Vietnam War Oral History resource. This is a collection of oral histories from the Vietnam War. It is a series of  short video clips by 13 people talking about their experiences in the Vietnam War. The oral histories were recorded by students.

Hearing people recount their involvement in the war can have a big impact in creating interest and understanding for students.

With a few modifications, students can participate in a “somewhat-similar” activity to incorporate drama/theater into their classroom studies. Public speaking and presentation are important parts of drama/theater instruction. Here is a lesson suggestion that can help your students not only learn about  particular people involved in the Vietnam War (or any war/conflict), but also improve their speaking and presentation/delivery skills.

1. Share some of the Oral Histories from the FCIT web site. Explain what a true Oral History is.

2. Tell students that they are going to participate in a “modified version” of  an oral history. They are to choose (or be assigned) a person from a war. (Have a prepared list of names (prominent soldiers, leaders, politicians, civilians, etc.) They are to research that person and then prepare an “oral history” of some event or memory that person experienced. (That student “will become” that person whose name the student was assigned.)

3. Students can work in pairs to video the “modified oral history” for the class to watch, or the students can simply present the “talk” in person to the class .

4. Students could bring artifacts to share, have a video/or PowerPoint-type presentation of relevant pictures or could dress in attire from the era.

5. An enhancement to the lesson would be for students (or teacher) to invite someone they know who may have participated in some way in the Vietnam War, or someone who lived during that era but was not in the war but was impacted by the war times, to the classroom to give a “live” oral history presentation. With the visitor’s permission, the session can be recorded for a true “oral history” document.


P.S. Don’t forget to ask your colleagues if they know someone who could visit as an “oral history” source.

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The “Act” of Communicating

October, 2011

In our FCIT monthly blogs, we have the goal of sharing resources on our FCIT site that will enhance knowledge and instruction regarding our specific subject area – DRAMA/THEATER in this case.

While reading other subject area blogs this week, I came across some information in the SOCIAL STUDIES blog that is very important for teachers and students to review AND is quite relevant to incorporating DRAMA/THEATER into the classroom.

One helpful resource discussed in the SOCIAL STUDIES blog is The Big Deal Book, which is a free, electronic publication which offers lots of teaching resources on many topics. In addition, there are sources for grants and help with research and assessment.

Part of The Big Deal Book is a special section called WEB WEDNESDAY.  The topic for this month’s WEB WEDNESDAY is 21st Century Learning and Innovation Skills: Communication. The article addresses the “act of communicating involving verbal, nonverbal, and paraverbal components” and how these 3 components are used to send clear, concise messages and to interpret correctly the messages sent. Here is where DRAMA/THEATER can play a major role in students developing a clearer understanding of communication skills. Check out this URL for great information to share with students and for some fun and instructional activities that are perfect for adding some drama/theater in your classroom! Be sure to check out the ABOUT.COM site listed under “IT’S HOW YOU SAY IT.”

Another helpful resource in the SOCIAL STUDIES blog addresses the CITING OF SOURCES when preparing papers, reports, presentations, etc. This particular blog entry listed 3 web sites that assist users in properly citing sources such as magazines, books, film, and the web. Those web sites are:


Son of  Machine

Easy Bib

*Reminder:  FCIT provides royalty-free illustrations, pictures, and audio clips for teacher/student use at ClipArt ETC, ClipPix ETC, and ClipAudio ETC.  From FCITs home page, just click the appropriate link in the listing of resources to quickly find these jewels.

If you haven’t done so, yet, please take time to read the other FCIT blogs, especially the SOCIAL STUDIES blog since I’m highlighting relevant information from it in the DRAMA/THEATER blog this month. Many thanks to MDE Jeanne Rogers who has done a GREAT job on providing such terrific information on her SOCIAL STUDIES blog!


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Integrate the Arts into Educational Programs

September, 2011

This month’s blog is to share information with you regarding the P. Buckley Moss Foundation for Children’s Education $1000 grant to support a new or evolving program that integrates the arts into educational programs. The purpose is to aid and support teachers who wish to establish an effective learning tool using the arts in teaching children who learn differently. The grant will be awarded in 2011 to educators who need assistance to further their program goals.

The deadline is September 30, 2011, for the 2012 school year.

To download an application and get more information, go to the P. Buckley Moss Foundation’s website:

This would be a great way to incorporate some of the DRAMA/THEATER suggestions, found in previous blogs, into your classroom.

This grant information is directly from “The BIG DEAL BOOK of TECHNOLOGY” newsletter – to which you may subscribe for free at

Good Luck with the grant and enjoy!      Sharon

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Creative Introductions

August, 2011

Here’s a way to get your new class of students to introduce themselves in a creative and fun “working-together” way.

Use the THINKQUEST – ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT link (discussed in the July blog)  Click on ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT and then THEATRE. Scroll down to “LIFE ON THE STRINGS.”

Using this puppetry website created by students, introduce them to the history of puppetry. Then have them work in groups of 2s or 3s to create a little skit in which the students tell something about themselves to each other by using a puppet that they make to represent themselves. The students could actually make their puppets as a home project, being sure that their puppet’s design illustrates some feature, personality trait, cultural heritage, hobby, etc. of the student. Each group would present their puppet skit to the rest of the class. Using puppets to introduce one’s self to two other puppets would probably be a lot less intimidating at the beginning of the year than addressing the entire class at one time.

Suggestion: If the students enjoy creating their puppets and skits, perhaps throughout the year, they can use that format to present other learning projects.

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July, 2011

The FCIT website provides a lot of useful materials for you to use, as well as links to valuable information outside of the FCIT site  . One of those sites is THINKQUEST – ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT, This is a collection of unique educational web sites created by students for students through the ThinkQuest competitions and programs offered each year. It’s also a great place to get ideas for your own classroom projects for this upcoming school year!

To find the link from inside the FCIT homepage go to: under  ONLINE PUBLICATIONS AND PRODUCTS click on EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY CLEARINGHOUSE under SUBJECTS click ARTS:THEATRE. You will see a list of theater-related resources. Click the last one THINKQUEST – ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT.

To learn more about the Thinkquest Competitions, go to

The 2011 Thinkquest Competition Winners have been announced! See them at

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Multicultural Education through Miniatures

June, 2011

Summer vacation has begun! Take a break from dutifully checking off all the summer chores and tasks on your “summer to-do list,” and enjoy some fun activities with your family, friends, and YOURSELF!

This is also a good time to browse the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) website at We know how rushed the school year is, and sometimes we don’t have time to take as close a look at new resources as we would like. Summer can provide a bit of time to discover and ponder how you might utilize the variety of resources found on the FCIT website. You have a lot of pent-up creativity just waiting to come out, so enjoy letting your mind have some “play time” exploring the possibilities at FCIT.

One resource that I would encourage you to check out is the “Multicultural Education through Miniatures.” (  This site includes photos, maps, stories, games, and pictures of handmade dolls and puppets from all over the world. This website can increase global awareness while helping to meet State Standards in geography, social studies, history, writing, language, technology, and the arts.

One suggestion is to incorporate storytelling/drama into a history/geography/cultural lesson by dividing students into groups of three or four. Each group would choose a doll/puppet. They could project the image from the website while re-telling the story that is written on the site. The students could take turns telling sections of the story.

Other activities could  include:

1. doing research on the character from which the doll is modeled, i.e. Sitting Bull from the USA: South Dakota doll and sharing via a presentation tool, such as PowerPoint;

2. students dress in costume and in first-person style, share information learned through research,

3. students could create their own doll/puppet regarding a topic of study in the classroom, write a skit, and have their dolls/puppets perform the skit.

Be sure to check out the “Go to Activity” link on the Multicultural Education Through Miniatures website. There are a variety of educational games and activities spanning from “easy” to “advanced” for students to use.

ENJOY exploring FCIT this summer!

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Celebrate National Maritime Day: May 22 with Memorial Day tie-in

May, 2011

“On May 22, 1819, the SS Savannah completed the first successful voyage by a steam powered ship across the Atlantic, shepherding in a new age of maritime travel and transport…. By the 20th century, the U.S. maritime trade was booming, fostering exchanges across the world and aiding our military at war….Today our maritime industry is a valuable source of skilled employment for American workers, contributing billions of dollars to our economy. It is also a critical part of our transportation system.”

The Congress, by a joint resolution, approved May 20, 1933, has designated May 22 of each year as “National Maritime Day, and has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation calling for its appropriate observance.” (quoted from President Obama’s Presidential Proclamation for National Maritime Day 2011)

See the entire Presidential Proclamation for National Maritime Day 2011 at .

Check out the following FCIT website regarding Florida’s Maritime History – Found in the Exploring Florida section: Pensacola Maritime History and Information Site Challenge your students to find maritime history about their city.

In the Clipart ETC section of the FCIT website, search “SHIPS” – you will find 590 illustrations of ships and tools used on ships, like knots, compasses, and anchors. These illustrations would make great PowerPoint (or other presentation software) extension projects that students would enjoy creating and sharing. Remember, there are over 20,000 PowerPoint templates and Keynote themes for free at PRESENTATIONS ETC .

Being so close to Memorial Day, Maritime Day is appropriate to recognize the accomplishments of the Merchant Marines in World War II. They were civilians, yet, they went to war and played a crucial role in the ultimate victory. See the site below for more information:

A Short History on National Maritime Day

Incorporating DRAMA/THEATER:

A patriotic tribute via song, marching, and dialogue sharing information from any of the suggested information sites above would make for a grand celebration!

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Earth Day Dramatics

April, 2011

April 22 is Earth Day. Earth Day was first celebrated in the United States in 1970 and is now recognized around the globe. Over 180 countries participate in Earth Day activities.

Get your students involved in learning about the purpose and importance of Earth Day. From the history of its beginning, ,  to the latest Environment News on National Geographic’s website, , Earth Day has an important meaning and message for all of us.

On the two sites listed above, you will find many Earth Day facts, activities, photographs, and relevant, timely articles on today’s environmental concerns.

So how does drama fit in?

After doing the appropriate research, students can write skits, plays, commercials, stories, etc., and read and/or perform them for other students.

Another great idea is to have them produce a video that could then be shown over the school’s closed-circuit television or individually in the classrooms. Take a look at the videos in:

FCIT’s “No Strings Attached,” .

Here you will find complete lesson plans matched to the SSS standards, plus videos, matched to SSS for grades K – 12. Click on ARTS: THEATER and the grade levels of your choice. Have your students watch the videos to give examples and ideas of how they can make their own videos to share what they have learned and the message they want others to hear/see.


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“Spring” into Developing Reading Fluency

February 27, 2011

“Spring” into a new idea to help students develop reading fluency and expression. Use the MONOLOGUE ( audio clipping in the DRAMA/THEATER section of FCIT’s Resources as an example of reading a section of a story with expression and fluency. The clipping is a reading from Alice in Wonderland. Set up a reading and taping station in your room. You could use the Alice in Wonderland clipping as the teacher introduction to the station. If that reading is age appropriate, students could listen to the audio again (with headphones) and then practice reading the section with a tape recorder or using a microphone to record into the computer (using iTunes, for instance). They can record numerous times throughout the week, challenging themselves to get better. Of course, you could do your own practice clipping of an age-appropriate selection. At the end of the week, or when students felt they had achieved success,they could read their section to you for teacher feedback.

The original “Monologue” clipping is to practice reciting, but works equally as well for reading practice. You could even have some of your excellent readers, or readers from another class or grade, make some practice audio clippings for your students.

FCIT’s LitToGo has a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 format (and a printable format) that can also be used for the fluency practice. Find the reading level your students need easily by going to LitToGo (, clicking “Search Database” and then “Search Reading Level.”  You can also search by Titles, Authors, and Keywords.

“Research shows that students increase their fluency when they read and reread the same passage aloud several times. The support that teachers give students during oral reading by modeling the text and providing guidance and feedback enhances their fluency development. Using this strategy, students gradually become better readers and their word recognition, speed, accuracy, and fluency all increase a s a result. Their comprehension also improves because they are bridging the gap between reading for word recognition and reading for meaning.”  Quoted from Developing Reading Fluency by Trisha Callella.

ENJOY!  Sharon

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Creative Dramatics in the Classroom

January 1, 2011

Looking for an exciting New Year’s Resolution for your professional development? Check out the article “Creative Dramatics in the Classroom”

( by Dee Dickinson. Dee Dickinson is the founder of NEW HORIZONS for LEARNING. (See more information under RESOURCES.) This is one resolution your students would love to help you keep!

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