“Most magicians stop thinking too soon.” – Dai Vernon
Vernon was one of the most influential close-up magicians of all time and his quote equally applies to educators. We have to go deeper!
A key tenet of the Teach Like a Pirate philosophy is to look at the world around us and always ask, “How can I use that?”
I want to take one example of this and really dive down deep. I think the timing is perfect for this because it could help spark ideas for creative and engaging ways to end your school year. We’ll start at the surface and swim a bit and then get deeper as we go.
Let’s talk about the Academy Awards. Millions of people tune in each year to see who will win the Oscars in various categories and it is a major pop culture event.
So…how can we use that to engage kids?
First of all, it is an event centered on multiple categories of nominees vying against each other to be honored. How can we take material from our class and break into competitive categories and nominees? Let’s choose English/ELA/Reading class as an example.
An Academy Awards show for books read over the course of the year! Have the students help to develop the categories and the nominees.
Author of the Year
Best Male Character in a Book
Best Female Character in a Book
Best Supporting Character
Most Heroic or Courageous Act
Best Plot Device Used by an Author
Scene of the Year
Best Single Line in a Book
Best Plot Twist
The possibilities are endless!
But now let’s stop swimming and put a snorkel on so we can go deeper. We can layer in hooks.
For an Academy Awards themed lesson, what would you wear (Costume/Guest Speaker Hook)?
Formal!! Gown…Tux…you get the idea. Can the kids dress up?
What is iconic about arriving at the awards?
The red carpet! You have to have a red carpet! (Interior Design Hook) Don’t forget to control and manipulate the lighting to create atmosphere. Music? Of course!! (Mozart Hook)
What happens when you arrive on the red carpet? Paparazzi!! It seems like you have to have some photo snapping going on…not to mention interviews from the red carpet. How about commentators discussing the arrivals?
Social media always explodes during these shows. Can they create tweets, vines, Instagram posts, or memes? Snap chat?
Can you have an emcee for the event? Director of the show? Video crew? Post production team to make a cool video of the whole thing? (Of course, you could push it out to the school community via social media or the video newsletter. You don’t have a video newsletter??? Read the first chapter of Your School Rocks!!)
But wait…let’s ditch the snorkel and put an oxygen tank on and start to scuba dive down deep.
Let’s add some writing. Maybe the students can write acceptance speeches for the various nominees. You could assign them or have students choose.
Now let’s throw in speaking and presenting. The kids can deliver their acceptance speeches. Don’t forget that if you take too long they start the music and play you off! This can be a fun way for students to practice expressing themselves in a powerful yet concise manner. Maybe there is not enough time for everyone to present his or her acceptance speech. That’s okay! They can all record videos as if they were not able to be at the show and then those representing the winners in each category actually do it live.
Keep diving deeper…how about some tech and creativity?
During the real awards show, the celebrity presenter says, “and the nominees for Best Picture are…” and then they turn and look at the giant screen. What happens?
Trailers! They have created short trailers to represent each of the nominees. Have some students use their tech skills to create trailers for each nominee in each category.
How about the Prop Hook? What props would be a part of this?
Award statues, of course!
Hold on!! Don’t buy them…have the students design them and make them! Don’t forget…makers not memorizers! One possibility could be to have a design competition and then vote on a winning design and make them. Another possibility may be to do a similar thing but, rather than one design, students create a different design representing each category.
Safari Hook? Where would be the best place on campus to deliver this lesson? Maybe it would be easiest in your own room, or, it could be even more amazing in the theater.
How will the winners be chosen? It could be you or there are lots of high-tech and low-tech ways to have the kids vote. Maybe the voting audience can be wider. Other classes. Parents. Faculty. Judging panel made up of the administrative team.
Hey! This could even culminate in an evening event!
Either way, do you want to have some students create invitations?
How about a press release?
Design and videotape promotional commercials?
A pre-show with predictions and expert analysis of the categories?
Why not make tickets! Go to a site like faketicketgenerator.com (Thanks, Julie Smith!) and customize your own tickets. Even better, assign a student to do it.
Uh oh! We went pretty deep and oxygen is running low. It’s time to head back up. By the way, my example centered on books but this can be adapted to almost any subject area.
I think there are some amazing possibilities for ending the year with a bang with this type of themed lesson design. More importantly, I wanted to show you how you can take a simple observation like, “Hey, lots of people enjoy those award shows,” and then really dive down deep and come up with creative ways to engage students.
Let me know if you come up with additional ideas or decide to give it a try! Feel free to comment below or tweet to #tlap and @burgessdave.
Let’s make school amazing!