Week 10: Stuck to the Point

 

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As conventional, stereotypical and silly as it may sound, I love Ikea. I’m always in wonder of the way that they are able to create functional designs that are also space saving and aesthetically pleasing. A number of the items in my house have come from Ikea, including this week’s focus for my visual practice: my magnetic knife block. I’ve had this organizational gem for a number of years and it has come along to the many houses that I’ve inhabited and I’ve always enjoyed how it makes culinary life that much more accessible. However, tonight while I was cooking dinner, I was struck by the aesthetic quality of the arrangement of the knives and also how this particular compilation of tools is a mosaic of many facets of my life.

My knife block could perhaps be a strange metaphor for the ephemeral quality of art because I never purposely put them inscreen-shot-2016-11-18-at-6-50-45-pm the same order twice. It’s kind of neat to ponder because aesthetically, they do create a pleasing image and it makes me think whether or not they have been arranged serendipitously into this exact order upon a separate occasion. That being said, it is interesting to see this particular assortment of knives because— as stated previously— it shows an interesting path through my life. All of the items on my magnetic block are hand-me-downs, except for the rustic bottle opener (which I bought on a trip to Cape Breton). They’ve been given to me mostly by my mom from the old knife collection we had while I was growing up, my oldest sister Brie when I moved to Regina, one of my friend’s mom and others I acquired on trips. Although, this is just a one-in-a-million Ikea magnetic knife block and there are thousands if not millions of them exactly the same as mine, it is interesting to realize that mine is completely unique. The objects that sit upon it tell a story about my life, help me to create creative new culinary adventures, free up my drawer space in my tiny kitchen and create an interesting piece of practical wall art.

 

Toolbox Log: Week 9/10

Telephone: Memory Warm-up

Sit group in large circle. Appoint someone to make up a tongue twister or start the “telephone” with a predetermined one. Send the message around the group by whispering the tongue twister in the person to your lefts ear. Continue around the group until it reaches it’s point of origin and announce what it now is. The point is trying to communicate in one go as clearly and concisely as you can in order to have the message be the same from beginning to end.

Bear, Frog & Fly [play on rock, paper, scissors]

Actions for each animal:

  • Bear: Growl with outstretched claws
  • Frog: stick tongue out and crouch like a frog
  • Fly: Take two fingers pinching and swirl them in front of your face while making a “buzz buzz” noise

Hierarchy of animals:

  • Bear beats Frog
  • Frog beats Fly
  • Fly beats Bear

How to play:

  • Split group into equal parts
  • Each group with decide together (without telling the other group) which animal they will draw with
  • Line up facing each other and on the count of three reveal the animal each side has chosen at the same time.
  • According to the hierarchy of animals, the group that has the upper hand will try to tag the other teach before touching a destination behind the group.
  • If the upper animal team tags one of the members of the other team, they now join that team.
  • Continue for allotted amount of time or until one group is absorbed by the other.

Benefits:

  • Memory
  • Familiar layout to younger students (models rock, paper, scissors)
  • Group collaboration
  • Incorporates movement
  • Fun!

Limitations:

  • Space
  • Movement accessibility

Applications:

  • Incorporating movement- interdisciplinary
  • Memory practice
  • Team-work/class bonding

Adaptations:

  • Could change the animals to represent hierarchy in the animal kingdom, discuss “survival of the fittest” or other natural processes found within nature.
  • Smaller groupings (mini games, might make them go faster than a large group)

 

Mantle of the Expert:

Essentially, Mantle of the Expert is used by teachers to have students learn within the context of a particular situation through role playing. For example: Creating the scenario of a team of astronauts in outerspace looking for new life on Mars. Each student is appointed a role within the spaceship (Captain, Co-Captain, Engineer, etc.) by assuming the roles, the teacher than throws scenarios at them where they have to think critically about how they would approach the problem while assuming their roles thus becoming the “experts” of the learning situation.

Benefits:

  • Gives precedence to children to take learning into their own hands.
  • Gives students a “facade” of sorts to examine new concepts and how they would react rather than having to be completely themselves.
  • Students conduct the learning and learn together– teacher “moderates”.
  • Practical, hands on learning through role playing.

Limitations:

  • Willingness
  • Time
  • Need to have developed a safe relationship within the class where they are comfortable to explore such concepts

Applications:

  • Can be used in any subject area dependant on what scenario is derived
  • Encourages lifelong learning
  • Encourages student curiosity and creativity
  • Can help examine concepts with more depth and real-life applications/implications

Adaptations:

  • Teacher involvement: teachers can join within a role, moderate from the outside or throw “monkey wrenches” into the scenarios depending on what is desired.
  • Expanding on what the students create– use within a process drama or use it perhaps to create a performance.

** I had to leave early from this particular class so some activities are missing**

Improvised Role Playing with Musical Prompts

Choose a specific piece of music that has perhaps prominently distinguishable instruments and/or strong movements within the piece. Assign or create a scenario based off the piece of music (for example: There was a quiet small town where country folk lived and farmed, living peaceful wholesome lives. Until one day, their town was invaded by aliens! They called upon the Government to help them and while the waited for the authorities to arrive, they were left to their own devices to approach the alien invaders…) Split the class into different roles (perhaps using coloured popsicle sticks). Prompt the class that once the music starts playing, the story begins. Framework the situation by allotting perhaps specific roles to specific instruments (aliens enter when the electric guitar starts) or when different movements within the song happen.

Benefits:

  • Listening skills
  • Role playing
  • Building creative narratives/improvisation

Limitations:

  • Clarification of roles
  • Concise “containers” or “boundaries” for the students to explore within
  • Space
  • Willingness of students

Applications:

  • Examining plot structures
  • Warm-up to examine social norms/reactions/constraints
  • Improvisation skills: offering/accepting offers

Adaptations:

  • Changing the scenario or prompt for the narrative.
  • Split class into groups and create mini skits based off of what happens within the first attempt.

Soundscaping

Have the class sit in a circle and prompt them with a context for their soundscape (ex: we did a rally). Explain that you want to create one noise, without syllabic value, using any part of your body, voice, or the objects around you in context to the “theme” of the soundscape. Have one person begin and add up to five people into the soundscape. Once the sixth person enters the soundscape, have the first person cease their noise (so it evolves around the circle and is not just a cacophony of noise).

Benefits:

  • Creativity with creating sound
  • Movement
  • Collaboration

Limitations:

  • Space

Applications:

  • Explore how sound can create a mood/tone
  • Examine different aspects of sound/music: dynamics, tone, value, etc.
  • Depending on the context of the theme, discuss how sound varies from situation to situation (appropriation)

Adaptations:

  • Have a predetermined soundscape classic example would be the rainstorm where the entire class is involved simultaneously
  • Create a soundscape using found materials
  • Use a soundscape to create a soundtrack for a piece of literature, drama production, etc.

Hot Seating

Hot Seating refers to when a student assumes the role of the character (found within the piece of literature, real life, drama, etc.) who takes the “hot seat” and the rest of the class asks them questions to which they respond as the predetermined character.

Benefits:

  • Find more depth within the piece of work being used whether it’s a book or a play etc.
  • Students work on their improvisation, conversational and questioning skills.
  • They empathize and research within the characters to be able to respond as the character.
  • They become more familiar with the motivations of characters and the events within the piece of text.
  • They become actively engaged with the piece.

Limitations:

  • Willingness: I think in order to have a successful hot seating, the students must feel safe to express themselves/be comfortable to question.
  • Understanding of the text: this exercise will help but I think they need to have a basis in the information in order to reply as the characters

Applications:

  • Interdisciplinary depending on what you use
  • Warm-up for character development for a play (finding “objectives” within characters, beats, verbs, etc. )
  • Debate skills: depending on the material
  • Improvisation skills

Adaptations:

  • Having a predetermined/prerehearsed set of interviewing questions (large or smaller groups)
  • Having someone stand behind the person in the hot seat and answer as the characters conscious
  • Having two students behind the person in the hot seat, one acts as the “angel” and other acts as the “devil” side of their conscious mind
  • Having the rest of the class act as the “Brain” of the character, where the student in the hot seat can refer to the rest of the class to make sure they are understanding what the character would actually say in response to the questions.
  • Have a multitude of characters in the “hot seat”, everyone assuming a different role within the piece being examined and they question/converse as those characters.

Week 9: Bright Ideas

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As the opening of Spring’s Awakening at the University neared closer, I spent an abundant amount of time in front of the mirrors in the dressing room in the lower level of the Theatre department. Because the play fell into the category of German Expressionism, the make-up and hair (for my character in particular) was quite extensive. One of the aspect of the dressing room that immediately catches your eye, is the typically envied lighting that surrounds all of the stations. The type of lighting that makes me think of old Hollywood starlets gazing into while applying red lipstick in black and white photos. However, as I planted myself in my claimed corner nook of the dressing room, I noticed that the placement of lights perhaps aided in the overall aesthetic beauty of those classic starlet photos.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-9-48-17-pm I’ve always wanted a really nice vanity with protruding light bulbs that throw off incredible lighting, but I’ve never really appreciated how neat the lights on their own look. My nook in the dressing room drew my attention to this because the bulbs had a plain background (the wall up against them) which gave them a fresh new perspective, they weren’t just a border to the mirror rather became their own entity. They threw off a really interesting aura and reminded me how important light can be in the aesthetic experience. Usually, light seems to be used in conjunction with what is being seen, for example sunlight hitting a tree creating interesting shadows, but in this circumstance, it was the main focus. Perhaps this realization was yet another offshoot of the play, due to watching the way the tech crew used lights to shape the emotional state of our play which drew my eye to this arrangement of lights or perhaps it was the fact that I’ve become more conscious of random arrangements of inanimate objects throughout this assignment, who’s to say? Regardless, it gave me an new insight into how light can be aesthetically pleasing even if it is just a line of protruding lightbulbs!

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Toolbox Log: Week 8

 

Relaxation Warm-up

Visualization practice for children:

 

Yoga Techniques/Meditation:

* visualization practices

*savasana

* short yoga sequence into savasana

Sleeping Lions

While the students are on the floor, prompt them that they are all lions in a circus but they’ve all been working extremely hard. So hard that they just want to sleep (tell them how sleeping lions look). Tell them that you are the ring master and you will be coming around trying to wake up the sleeping lions and if the sleeping lions make any movement, they have to join the ringmaster in waking up the lions.

Week 8: Haunted by Plays Past

I’ve been spending an ample amount of time down in the theatre department as we prepare for the fall showing of the University of Regina’s adaptation of Spring’s Awakening. Besides being an amazing opportunity to dive back into my first love of theatre, it has been a really interesting process in regards to aesthetics. The crew has designed an incredible German Expressionist themed stage, with start contrasting colours, obscure angles to reflect the agony within the play and a dynamic use of levels. However, I’ve also noticed a few really neat aspects backstage the main theatre in Riddell. The giant string of thick ropes holding up the curtains, the blue backstage lights that give everything a really ominous look, seeing the way the main lights streak across the foggy stage and old props or paraphernalia from plays past.

 

There is a “secret” passage what that actors are to take to go from stage right to stage left, that screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-11-53-24-amconnects by a giant hallway. Within the hallway, they have stacks of pieces of old sets, props and a random assortment of trinkets. Among the stack of things, is a huge wooden frame with about five inch circular dowels seemingly suspended within the frame and scattered with burgundy petals and flowers. If you look straight on, the design of the dowels and patters make almost a cat eye but remind me of the beauty of fall when all the leaves start falling to the ground in a hectic manner. I’m uncertain which play past this gem has come from but every time I stroll passed it, I always have to admire the craftsmanship and the way they were able to create something so seemingly effortless (but I’m sure it was quite the undertaking!).

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Toolbox Log: Week 7

Vocal Warm-Ups:

  • massaging face muscles to get them loosened up
  • intentional breathing/counting breaths
  • moving on breaths: ragdolls, forward bends, etc.
  • short syllabic vocalizations focusing on producing them from the diaphram, adding movement
  • mimic circles: one person creates an action with a sounds and it echoes through the circle
  • vocal rounds

Placemats

Group students together into groups of four and give them a piece of paper. Create a diagram on the paper that has a section for each member to write in with a spot blank in the middle to create a synthesis of all the groups information (kind of like a Venn diagram). Use as a response to a reading, performance, lecture, etc.

Benefits:

  • Everyone has a say in the information
  • Everyone has to participate
  • Student based reflection, not guided by the teacher

Limitations:

  • Students did not read, attend or pay attention to the information they are responding to

Applications:

  • Collaboration
  • Reflection/responding critically to information
  • Inquiry: as a teacher you can see which areas within the information have piqued their interest and can maybe use to create new lesson alternatives.

Adaptations: 

  • Which information is given to respond to: drama performance, musical performance, dance performance, novel reading, textbook reading, classroom activity, field trip, etc.
  • Thematic approach: give each group a specific “role” or portion of the information to respond to and then open it up to a bigger discussion
  • Use the middle of the placemat (group synthesis) as  prompt for the next assignment, use the placemat as a segue into next assignment.

Frozen Interpretations:

Have students walk with purpose around the room. Using a story that you’ve been examining lead them through prompts of characterization through frozen statues. i.e. “As you walk around, think about the protagonist when he was beginning his journey across the ocean. When I say ‘freeze’ I want you to demonstrate how he might have looked as he peered across the ocean before embarking on his journey.” After they do the initial freeze, have them do a second replica but exaggerated, more expressive.

Benefits:

  • utilizes movement/warm-up
  • embodies characterization
  • solo work, not concerned with what others are doing
  • begins thinking about body language in the terms of the characters within the story

Limitations:

  • Space

Applications:

  • Understanding the roles within a story
  • Examining new angles of characters they may have not empathized with
  • Creating a critical analysis/representation of what they have just been exposed to
  • Warm-up into other activities to do surrounding the story/characterization

Adaptations: 

  • The material used
  • Having half the class respond as one character and the other respond as another: beginning to see outside themselves (more collaborative)

 

Hot Seating/Reflection Alley 

Have the students hold a “town council meeting” in the characterizations of the people within the story. “Elect” four council people who will listen to the concerns of the citizens and eventually create a verdict on the conflict at hand.  Following the verdict, have the citizens create two parallel lines and create one sentence responses (in their characterizations) of how they feel about the verdict. Have the council people walk through the lines while the citizens quietly recite their sentence repetitively.

Benefits:

  • Improvisation/impulse exploration
  • Expression through characterization (that may converge or may differ from their actual opinions)
  • Examination of how democracy works (vaguely)

Limitations:

  • Space
  • Time
  • Willingness

Applications:

  • Cross-examine conflict within the story or text through multiple perspectives
  • Teacher can help facilitate the hot seating and perhaps explore “in role” mediation (equality between teachers and students)
  • Students can use the facade of a character to express genuine ideologies, conflicts or experiences.

Adaptations: 

  • Have only four council people so the teacher/facilitator has to break tie votes
  • Assign students particular roles rather than letting them organically arise
  • Have a “voting” session rather than the council people decide, use it to describe democracy thoroughly (could examine possibility of “parties”, “cabinet members”, etc.)

Letter to the Character/Collaborative Letter Writing

After the “Hot Seating”, have the students write a brief letter to one of the characters within the text anonymously. Have them crumple up the papers and throw it onto the floor. Circle around the “snowballs” and have the students choose a new letter, read it over and underline one sentence that was they consider the most profound. Ask around for one who thinks their sentence would make an excellent opening and ending to “frame” the new letter. Have the students read out their sentences to create a new letter to the character creating a collaborative montage of all the letters. (prompt them that they can use connecting words to make it more sensical, otherwise, stick to the sentence.)

Benefits:

  • Critical response in the form of writing
  • Personal expression through anonymity
  • Every student’s voice is heard one way or another
  • Multipule perspectives

Limitations:

  • Ask the students to write in the role they took on during the hot seating or, write as themselves.
  • Time given to write

Applications:

  • Embodiment of the text and how it pertains to themselves personally
  • Collaborative, collective, ephemeral experience
  • “Assessing” or rather, accumulating knowledge on which part of the text stuck out to the students

Adaptations: 

  • Have the students read the entire letter out to the group rather than a sentence.
  • Have the students write a response to the letter they pick up and write it from the stance of the character receiving the letter.
  • Use the collective letter created to brainstorm/create “sequel” to the text. Perhaps use the new letter to explore what would happen if the character received the letter.

Week 7: Mist Opportunities

This weekend, my friend and I decided to brave the dreary weather, get outside, move our bodies and go for a walk around Wascana Lake. As we drove to the park, the fog that lingered in the air but we didn’t really give it much thought other than to comment on it’s screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-6-20-15-pmpresence. We parked our car in one of the parking lots close to Broad Street and meandered through the woodsy oasis. We rounded the corner (perhaps if you’re familiar with Wascana you will know which one I mean), the one that is almost directly across from the Leg building on the northern section where you exit from a wooded grove and erupt into the view of the water, the Leg building, the Albert St. bridge, and stopped dead.

 

I don’t think in my entire life I have seen a view so incredibly eerie yet alarmingly peaceful. The entire spans of the lake was seemingly vacant, the fog had created a mirror reflecting the water seamlessly and blurring any hope of seeing any distinguishable feature. The only demarcation of the water were the geese suspended within the abyss. My friend and I both immediately awestruck by the image stopped dead. It reminded me of the Bolivian salt flats where you have no conception of where the sky ends and the earth begins. It was unsettling initially to be engulfed inscreen-shot-2016-10-25-at-6-19-57-pmto this image where it felt like my friend and I were isolated from the rest of the topographical world, but after the shock wore off, I could not believe the beauty. We watched geese fly where their exact replica was reflected beneath them and you could only tell they had hit water because of the converging of the two. We tried to distinguish which direction the Leg building was, the Albert St. bridge… anything that we could use to comprehend where we were. It was a magical moment, but like most magical moments, it vanished swiftly and by the time we reached the bridge parallel to Albert St., the fog and the image had lifted.

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