A lot of us that learned to teach in a face-to-face method have a fear when it comes to integrating technology into our teaching. Especially for those of us who consider our content one that must be “seen to experience”, putting our content out online for the students to learn at their own pace can be an intimidating fact.
I teach theater and choir classes. A lot of times I have had excuses about integrating technology such as “I teach live theater so I must present my lessons to these kids live” or “If they are doing the work online that takes away from the collaborative experience of being together which is the point in an ensemble class such as this.” We can find every excuse in the book to not use technology in our classroom. But here is the harsh reality that I am on the road to discovering – Technology is not going away and it WILL effect these students in every aspect of their careers.
So, I had to make a shift in my thinking. Instead of complaining that I was a live performance art I started asking myself the question “What areas of this profession use technology that didn’t 10 years ago when I began my method?”
Let me give you an example:
Each year our Theater 1 classes have the experience of performing monologues in front of their peers in the class. By taking this previously-devised lesson and asking “What about this experience finds itself using technology in the real world”, I became aware that the monologue is not only something that is used in live theater but also in TV, Movie, Radio, Commercials, and the like. I also realized that a high percentage of casting directors and agents are looking for self-taped auditions and monologues coming through online forums that didn’t exist 10 years ago. These two simple realizations led me to re-thinking the unit in light of technology.
Instead of having them read an article about what a good audition is, I found 2 auditions on YouTube and asked them to compare and contrast them which led to a discussion about why we would cast one and not the other. What I didn’t expect was that they became interested in how the self-taped audition monologue worked and having used technology to show them real auditions allowed them to become curious and find things on their own
When they became interested in something, they could continue to search for other celebrity auditions that were online that allowed them to see and mimic things in their own live performances.
Then, after viewing other self-taped monologues they were required to film their own monologue and submit it through our online portal (Canvas). What I found was that by combining a little online curiosity with the same face-to-face teaching that I had been doing previously I had students who were more knowledgeable and willing to take an active role in the creation of their self-taped auditions (which also allowed them to be proud of a product and they knew how what they were turning in looked like).
Trying to implement large changes all at once is a scary task. But for those of us who teach a “face-to-face” or “live” content, we still have to realize that our professions are turning to relying on technology also. So if we simply ask ourselves how we can create the most authentic use of technology to our professions we will see students who engage themselves and have better products in the end because it relates better to them!
Today's thoughts come to us from Mr. Nathaniel Adams. Nathaniel is the assistant director of Theater and Choir at Pike High School. Prior to coming to Pike he taught at Calumet New Tech High School in Gary, IN. He received his BA in Performance and BS in Education from Huntington University. When he is not making dated pop-culture references in the classroom he likes to keep up with the theater industry by working on his playwriting, community acting, and bing watching Netflix.