3. Performing for an audience
It is important that every pupil is able to communicate effectively and is given the opportunity to be imaginative. Group story performances can give even quiet pupils the chance to speak, sing, act, dance, etc. without too much pressure. Each pupil in a story-performing group can play a role: a character in the story, a narrator or part of a chorus. Pupils with specific talents can create ‘props’ and ‘costumes’ with objects such as pieces of cloth or paper or a few twigs from a tree.
In classes where pupils do not all speak the same home language, working with fellow speakers of the same language in order to prepare a performance in this language can be very positive.
This next part provides you with ways to develop pupils’ confidence and skills in speaking their home language. These ways can also be used to improve skills in a lingua franca or an additional language.
Case Study 3: A story performance day with a large class
Mrs Rebecca Kassam teaches a class of 100 Standard 5 pupils in a village near Tanga in Eastern Tanzania. She decides to hold an end-of-term story performance day. She organises her pupils into groups of five and then encourages them not just to tell stories but also to perform them so that both performers and audience will enjoy them. She tells pupils that if they wish to perform in a language that not everyone knows, they must decide how to help the audience understand the meaning by using actions, facial expressions and different objects (‘props’).
Mrs Kassam gives her pupils time to plan and rehearse their chosen stories. As they work, she monitors their progress and sometimes shortens or lengthens the preparation time. She has found that pupils prefer to prepare and perform their work outdoors.
With 80 pupils, it would take up too much time if all groups performed for everyone in the class. On the story performance day, Mrs Kassam asks pupils to form four circles, with four groups in each circle. She numbers the groups in each circle from 1 to 4. Group 1 performs in the circle centre for groups 2, 3 and 4. Then group 2 performs for groups 1, 3 and 4 and so on until all groups have had a turn.
After the performances, Mrs Kassam asks each group to discuss what they have learned. She thinks about what some of the quieter pupils in her class have shown about their understanding and how she can use this information to plan the next stage of learning.
Key Activity: Performing stories for an audience
Ask pupils to form themselves into groups of six. Ask them to:
- think about the stories they have told and listened to;
- decide which story they think would be the best one to perform for the rest of the class, so that everyone can understand and enjoy it – more than one group can choose the same story;
- identify all the characters and decide who will play each part. They may also need a narrator;
- decide on the language(s) to use, sound effects, gestures, clothes and objects that will help bring the story to life and who brings which resources.
Allow time to rehearse and set a time limit for the performance. Monitor each group and help them as necessary by providing ideas or suggesting ways to do things.
Ask the audience to give feedback to each group (see Resource 2: Assessing group story performances).
If you can, tape-record the stories that are performed. Otherwise, take notes for later use.
The stories could be perfected and performed to parents and community leaders in your area to raise funds for buying resources for your class.