Today I got to work with middle school students—an age group that I absolutely LOVE working with because they have such enthusiasm and imagination! The first class—8th graders—had written first drafts of CBRT scripts on the theme of violence in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. These students were so open to editing their work and they came up with excellent improvements to the dialogue, gestures, and sound effects. They are the type of kids that I’d love to work with again and again.
In the second class, the teacher who had attended my workshop last spring wanted to observe me write a CBRT script in collaboration with the students. Our goal was to include literary terms (characters, setting, plot, exposition, etc.) merged with examples from one of my favorite books of all time—The Watsons Go To Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis. We agreed to write our script in the format of a movie trailie—in this case, a “book trailer!” Here are the charts with the start of our script:
I think it’s off to a terrific start and the students were unabashedly pleased with themselves. After class, the teacher told me that the two students who are normally the most reserved, the least likely to speak up were so thoroughly engaged—offering script ideas, volunteering to speak solo lines, and performing the gestures and sound effects with GUSTO! This is such rewarding work.
The teacher of the last class—6th graders—chose the same focus (characters, setting, plot, exposition, etc.) for her class’s script, so I had to think of a new script context fast. I decided that we would write it as an infomercial that would sell a product that would help writers. I let them come up with the name of our product and they decided that it would be an app called “PLOT-oh-puss!” (Like an octopus or a platypus…)
The script is very clever and I will type it up soon. We actually finished in in the 45 minutes of class we had. Every student wanted and got at least one solo line. The teacher is ready to rehearse it and take her enthusiastic playwright/performers “on tour!”