Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of the vocal techniques, what they are and what they can do, by making vocal choices for their character and annotating their reader’s theatre script.
Have pieces of poster paper taped around the room with the different vocal techniques and number them 1-8. Count off students 1-8, and tell them (when you say “Go”) to move to the poster with their number on it. Once there, instruct students to do a “brain dump.” They will be given five minutes to write down everything they know about that vocal technique. Ask them to come up with words that help define it, how you can use it, what effect it can create and examples in everyday life/pop culture. After five minutes, call to the groups and tell them to rotate up one number (eight goes to one). They have one minute to add to this poster or take away anything they feel should not be there. They will continue to rotate until each group has a chance to write on each paper.
Ask students to return to their seats. Pass out the fill-out-able vocal techniques cheat sheet. Call each (original) group up and have them go over what they wrote down for that vocal technique. These presentations should only take 1-2 minutes. Give praise to students for things on the boards that are particularly insightful and ap-propriate for that viewpoint. Ask students to explain if anything seems unclear. As the groups present, have the students fill out the cheat sheets, have them write down what they like or what they think will help them understand each one in the boxes. These are theirs to keep.
As a class, practice going through each vocal technique by saying “Once upon a time, in a land far far away” and making a technique choice. Tell them which technique we are going to do and then let them decide what they are going to do. (Ex: For the tech-nique pitch, they could say the line high or low or varying between the two)
Once we have gone through all of them remove the tone, breath, timbre, quality, and silence posters. Explain that in class today we are just going to focus on pitch, dynamic, and tempo.
Ask the class if they have ever heard of reader’s theatre. If they have, ask someone to explain briefly what it is. If they haven’t, explain to them that it is a script that is written only to be read out loud, not acted out with movement, props, or staging. It’s often used in classrooms not as a performance tool, but as a way to make the text become more engaging.
Discussion question: Knowing that we are working on vocal techniques, why would readers theatre be something we would want to work on?
Answers should bring the class to the idea that the voice is the only way to convey emotion, character, and action since the readers theatre script is only read.
Mini-lesson on annotation. Write the word on the board, ask students what they think/know it means. When they begin bringing up English class, annotating to mark similes or metaphors etc., explain that they need to take the same idea, of making notes in the text, to the next activity. On the board, write a line from one of the reader’s theatre scripts.
Max: Be still!
Ask students to come up and show you how they might annotate this line to show that they want to get louder as they say it? Ask for different examples, but make sure that they all indicate the same thing. Ask students how they would annotate it to say that they want to say it in a higher voice? What about if they wanted to say it really slowly? Give a few students the chance to come up and show different ways that they might annotate that line to show different things. Explain that you would like them to do something similar for the reader’s theatre scripts, and annotate each line so that anyone who picks it up would know exactly how to read that character’s lines.
Divide students into groups of either six or eight (one of the scripts has six characters and one has eight). They can either choose their groups or you can have them already made. Have them spread out around the room and pass out the reader’s theatre scripts to each group, preferably with the same number of each (three groups with each script). Instruct them to each choose a part in their script, making sure everyone has a part and each are represented. Read through it once, silently, annotating where you might make some vocal choices focusing only on the techniques we are looking at today. • “How are you going to distinguish your character, focusing on pitch, dynamic and tempo?” • “If you’re a narrator in your script, what are you going to do to exhibit your unique character voice to help distinguish between other narrators. Remind the students that if they are monotone then they aren’t engaging. Tell them that “bored” is not a choice that will work with these characters because it will read as lazy. So I might choose to have a slow tempo but high pitched voice.
After they annotate their own lines, have them pass them pass them back in and hold them for the students for next time. Tell them that they will continue working on these next time.
Students will be assessed on their participation in filling out the vocal technique brain dump posters (in groups) and in presenting their poster to the class, on filling out their “Vocal Techniques Cheat Sheet” (which I will just visually assess as I walk around the room), on their participation in working in groups on their reader’s theatre scripts.