Summer! I have had the opportunity to spend time at EduFest in Boise, Idaho. Boise is a beautiful city, and despite temperatures over 100, I have been pleasantly surprised by the beauty, food, outdoors, and friendliness of the people. EduFest has also been a great learning experience. The audience for this conference is intended for educators and administrators working with gifted and talented students. Most of the strategies and activities presented in the various sessions would be beneficial for any student.
In one of the sessions that I have attended, I was introduced to a variation of the Tableau Activity that I have written about in previous posts. In a tableau, individuals use their bodies to create a frozen picture representing an object, idea, scene, etc. The frozen picture should include expression, large gestures, and different levels. The session I attended at EduFest was led by Cloyce Weaver from Ontario, Canada. The idea behind the variation described here is to reinforce understanding through collaboration, repetition, and movement. I have modified the activity, but the premise is similar to the original idea introduced in the session.
The example we used in the session was photosynthesis, which I will use here to explain the basic concept in the steps below:
- Students find a space in the room. The teacher provides the initial instruction, “Be the sun.” Students create an frozen picture of the sun.
- The teacher directs students to find a partner. Students pair up and are given another direction, “The two of you represent clouds and rain.” The pair creates a frozen picture, which can become animated when directed, representing this part of the cycle.
- The teacher directs students to create a group of three with classmates they have not yet been with. Once the groups have been formed, the teacher gives the following direction, “As a group of three, become the seed of a plant that begins to grow.” The group performs the action.
- Students are then directed to form a group of four. “As a group of four, create four tableaus depicting the entire cycle.”
- After the group of four presents, the teacher has students return to their original solo spots to become the sun. Next, the students find the spots in the room where as partners they became the rain clouds. They find the spot and become the clouds. The process continues until they perform the final group tableau.
The activity can be extended to include larger groups and eventually the whole class. It can be easily adapted for any nonfiction readings regarding a type of process. It has also can be used to summarize fiction. Students could become the setting and characters as the various tableaus move the class through the plot or storyline. The tableaus could also include the big ideas in the reading, themes, figurative language, and basic analysis. These ideas would take a more processing time, but the repetition and movement may help students recall the information later and apply it to future writing and comprehension assignments.