Greek Mythology and Readers Theater

By Brent Vasicek on May 11, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

 

Covering Greek mythology can be very confusing. For one thing, the family tree for the Greek gods makes the family situations on Jerry Springer and The Maury Show look normal and tame. Mythology is not my strong suit, and the end of the year is not necessarily the time to cover topics that you are not completely confident with. So when I stumbled across a Greek mythology readers theater book, I was ecstatic. Read on to find out how to incorporate this activity into your classroom.

Photo: One student made a cake for the "God and Goddess Bake Off" play. This was a great way to celebrate the day!

 

After we read the play, I choose half of the class to work on acting it out. The remaining half of the class will act out another play from the book.

THE PROCESS

The readers theater plays in my class run a five day course. In general, it goes something like this:

Monday    Students are given the script. They read the script independently, look up a few vocabulary words, and write a brief summary of the play. A director is chosen to direct each play. They are given a list of students who are in the play and assign roles.

Greek Vasicek CR SpotlightThe director is a highly sought-after position, but it is not an easy one. Many disagreements can occur in the production process and the director must be able to keep the group moving forward. This position is great for students you would like to help develop leadership skills.

Tuesday    The director tells the students their roles. They do a read-through and generate ideas for staging, props, costumes, music, and backdrops. The director will finalize the vision in his/her mind, assign extra tasks, and ask me for certain supplies, props, or music.  

Wednesday    Students begin to bring in their supplies or props from home. They rehearse a few times. At the end of the day, the director spends time going over "gems and ops," or what is going well in the play and opportunities for improvement. 

Gems and ops are important in order to maintain focus; to practice reflective, critical thinking; and to keep all team members on the same page.

Thursday    Dress rehearsal.    Greek Vasicek Off Stage

Friday    Showtime. Each cast will present to the classmates that are not in their play. Each play takes about 20 minutes.  During the play, the audience members critique the play by writing down gems and ops.  

Sample Friday Play Schedule:

  • 11:00  Play #1 setup.
  • 11:05  Play #1 performed; audience members write down gems and ops.
  • 11:15  Director of play critiques the performance of his/her team with some gems and ops.
  • 11:17  Audience members are chosen to share three gems and three ops. Teacher adds his/her opinion.
  • 11:30  Play #1 takedown; play #2 setup.
  • 11:35  Play #2 performed; audience members write down gems and ops.
  • 11:45  Director of the play critiques the performance of his/her team with some gems and ops.
  • 11:47  Audience members are chosen to share three gems and three ops. Teacher adds his/her opinion.
  • 11:50  Play #2 takedown.

 

Greek Vasicek Pandora  Greek Vasicek Pandora Top

Photos: On the left, Pandora's Box. On the right, you get to see the actors hiding in the box.

 
Greek Vasicek Zeus Wife   Greek Vasicek Group Cast
 

On the left, Zeus and wife judged the bake off. On the right, the cast and crew. Each god/goddess dressed in a memorable way. They loved doing these plays!

Greek Play Vasicek Ambrosia    Greek Vasicek Accessories

  • The details thought of by the students . . . ambrosia, the food of the gods on the left, and wings on the feet to match the Internet research they did on their characters.

MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS

  • Students should simply say "thank you" when taking gems and ops from the audience, to keep things moving. They should not try to explain or justify what they were doing. 
  • The best play gets a reward. In my classroom it is one of two things: Either the director gets to keep a traveling trophy on his/her desk for the week, or the cast of the winning play gets to eat lunch in the classroom on Friday with the teacher.
  • Each week new directors and a shuffling of the cast members occur.
  • I love this activity at the end of the year. It allows for maximum engagement with minimal input from the teacher. Students really are in charge of their learning.
  • The director has the power to grade the other students, granting up to ten of the 100 points available for this assignment. This allows the director to have some power to facilitate a well-run rehearsal.

THE VALUE AND THE SKILLS

  • Students develop their fluency skills.
  • Students develop their abilities to read with inflection and emotion.
  • Students increase their vocabulary.
  • Students learn about Greek mythology.
  • Students learn how to lead or work as a team toward a common goal.
  • Students practice being resourceful and creative.
  • Students learn how to present to an audience.
  • Students learn how to give and receive constructive criticism.
  • Students learn how to be reflective, critical thinkers.
  • Students expand their comfort zones.

 

2I2 Trademark 2010 Vasicek Lights, camera, action!

Director Vasicek

www.mrvasicek.com

 

2i2 is a trademark of Mr. Vasicek's classroom. It promotes a life of integrity and doing your best.

Comments

I need to print out the play for the gods and godesses bake-off without subscribing, and I can't find a site that allows me to do so. Would you kindly send me the play from email? My email is: emily28kim@gmail.com. Thank you. It would be much appreciated!

It's like you read my mind this week! I was just looking for a way to integrate mythology into readers' theater and I absolutely love your ideas! One question though- you mentioned that students get 100 points for the weeklong assignment... how do you grade them? Do you have a rubric or an outline of expectations? Thank you for a great blog!

Great question! I am always switching it up, but currently I am using a point system based on the following:

20 Points ... Written summary of play 20 Points ... Written lesson learned from play (with specific examples from the text) 10 Points ... Focus, Respect, Responsibility during rehearsal 10 Points ... Given by the director of the play (this allows the directors a little bit of leverage and authority) 15 points ... Performance and preparedness for the play 15 points... Pronunciation and fluency during the play 10 Points ... Good audience member while watching other plays

Thanks for asking! Brent

For years I have tried to integrate readers theater, but I always sturggle with the timeline and an effective structure. Thanks so much for sharing this great outline with us!

You are welcome. It has taken a few years to get the system down to a science, but the kids love it! ~Brent

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