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Middle School Guest Blogger from Chicago: Ms. Wiegand

I have the privilege of working with teachers from across the country and I am excited to share my first guest blogger who currently teaches middle school reading in Chicago, Ms. Brittany Wiegand! Brittany has about a month left in the school year, and is celebrating success in her first year teaching middle school and interested in ideas on how to engage her students using a play.  Please comment away with ideas for her! I'll let Ms. Wiegand take it from here... 

This past Friday, my students took the last of the big tests we'd be taking this year... the NWEA MAP test! They KILLED it... 86% met their goal  #proudteacher! The kids were really pumped up and invested, so a big weight is off my shoulders. But, we've got a bit of time left before we do our Fountas & Pinnell tests to get end-of-the-year reading level data. Now, we've read some kick-butt novels this year (Wonder, Hunger Games, and the Watsons go to Birmingham, to name a few) but we don't have quite enough time to read a full novel, given all the field trips and various activities happening in the next few weeks. I’ve struggled for the past few weeks trying to figure out how to keep my kids engaged and finally came up with… dun dun dun… DRAMA!

We’re going to be reading and analyzing a play for the next few weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited for a few reasons. First, my students LOVE to read out loud. One of my easiest engagement strategies is to ask for a volunteer to read anything (directions, some text in a funny voice, their answer to a question) so I’m really pumped about our upcoming unit—with multiple parts a day, my students are going to love to read in class. Second, it’s a genre we haven’t had much work with at all this year, so I’m really pumped to teach all the components of plays—stage directions, the role of the audience, “acts” versus “chapters” or other sections, the use of lighting and costumes. There’s a lot of new vocabulary, both related to plays and character traits and emotions that will benefit my students. Finally, I’m MOST excited about the play that we’re reading: A Raisin in the Sun. Set in Chicago (where I teach), we’ll be able to dive into an analysis of racial attitudes of the 1950’s. 

There are so many other options that work with middle school: 12 Angry Men, Shakespeare, Clue, and Agatha Christie, to name only a few. Even without putting on the full production, the benefits are going to be huge and I can’t wait to get started!

Have you ever done plays? What was your experience?
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