Technology grant leads to news and skit broadcasts
By Claudia Mathis
ROME — Nicholas Wilson, seventh-grader at Rome Catholic High School, has written a screenplay for the sequel his class created after reading the short story, “The Smallest Dragonboy.” The work is one of a collection of science fiction tales taken from the book, A Gift of Dragons by Anne McCassrey.
“The Smallest Dragonboy” is the story of Keezan, a 12-year-old boy who, despite his small stature, pairs up with a dragon to save the dragon community of Pern from the evil Thread that falls at certain times from the sky. The tale illustrates the importance of perseverance, good character and courage.
“It was fun and it was a unique experience,” said Nicholas of his writing of the skit. He said that he collaborated with the six other students in his class when he wrote the drama. “I took their suggestions,” he said.
Nicholas’s teacher, Nancy Wilson, spearheaded the project to give the students an opportunity to learn the difference between prose and drama.
Wilson said that every student participated in the creation of the skit. They wrote the stage directions, designed costumes and assigned roles to one another. “They worked everything out themselves,” said Wilson. “They were very creative.”
The students are now editing their creation on the iMovie computer program and there will be a showing in the near future.
“It was a very interesting and motivating experience for them,” said Wilson.
The students in Wilson’s class and Lauren Vollmer’s sixth grade class are reaping the benefits of an educational grant the school received. They have access to a Flip Video Camera and MacBooks.
Vollmer’s class of 19 created a news broadcast about the book, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin and skits about the book, Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.
The news broadcast was published on YouTube. “It was easy and quick using iMovie,” said Vollmer. “The parents enjoyed watching their children acting it out.”
The Westing Game is a mystery revolving around the question of who murdered Samuel Westing. Sixteen people are listed as heirs to his fortune and the heir that solves the mystery wins a large sum of money.
Vollmer said that every student participated and they enjoyed playing each of the heirs. One of the students held the role of the author, Ellen Raskin. She interviewed each of the heirs. The parts they played included such roles dressmaker, doorman, writer, birdwatcher, doctor and secretary. In preparation for playing his or her role, each student wrote a short essay on the description of his or her character.
The young people, Vollmer said, have benefitted greatly from the project. “They’ve learned to work together, gained public speaking and literacy skills and learned how to put emotion into their words,” she said. “They’ll remember this for years to come.”
After Vollmer’s class read Number the Stars, each student created a skit about the book. The setting is in Denmark during the Holocaust. When the Germans invade the country, a Danish family befriends a Jewish family. The students designed their costumes for the parts, which included Nazi soldiers.
“When they played their parts, it brought out a lot of emotions,” remembered Vollmer.
Vollmer and Wilson think it’s important to incorporate theatre into the school’s curriculum. “Students become active participants and take charge of their learning when given the challenge to create scripts and iMovies,” said Vollmer.