THE DESIGNS PROVIDED CAN BE SCALED UP FOR LARGER TABLES. THIS IS JUST WHAT SUITED OUR SMALL STOOLS AND SPACE FOR OUR SCHOOL PRODUCTION OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.
I am fortunate enough to have a great Technical Theater Production class this year. It has already given me plenty of opportunities to learn basic theater tech skills while working on our winter musical, Beauty and the Beast. Our first project this year, after certifying on the mitre saw and cordless drill for safety (and covering first aid) was to put those skills to use to create five miniature tables.
For this project we used pre-cut 2'x2' sheets of 3/4" ply from Home Depot, plus our stock of 2"x4" lumber and some leftover 4"x4" beams. Two screw sizes were also used. This project was heavily supervised by both me and my advanced tech student. You should get each kid to demonstrate safe operation of the tools before the project begins.
My students had a checklist of skills and steps they had to demonstrated and then we both signed it. This is a necessary step for the safety of the students and for legal reasons as well. Students were not allowed to work without safety glasses and close-toed shoes, and all measurements were double-checked by their other group members.
I began the project by giving out plans (link below) and asking kids to do a little math to figure out some of the missing measurements. We checked these as a class. We also figured out a plan of where to insert screws, reminding them that they could not cross paths. This meant a day of work before we even began to measure and cut. It was a slow project compared to what some Dads could crank out in a weekend, but it was fundamental for teaching those critical skills for construction.
We spent a few days cutting and assembling. They built the frame first, then attached legs and crossbeams, the finally the tabletop. These were essentially redundantly stable mini platforms with an overhang. We will have boys standing on them and stomping in "Gaston," so we needed extra stability. If you want students to move on them more, then the overhang should be eliminated: if weight is put on the edges of the table, it will tip. If your tables aren't going to be holding a lot of weight, the cross braces can be eliminated.
I liked the cross braces because students had to drill in at a 45° angle, which took skill and planning.
We finished the tables with brick red paint on the legs (because we were covering up pre-painted 2"x4" boards and sanding them was too time intensive. Next students drew faux planks with permanent marker before using two coats of a 2-in-1 stain and poly. We used disposable brushes for the stain because we don't keep paint thinner or oil paints at the school.
At the end of the project a student even made a paper model of our design and left it in my room as a piece of guerrilla art. Some of the tables were a bit better crafted than others, but with proper supervision and heterogeneous assignments of skill in the groups, I got five usable products.
Want to see them in action? Keep an eye on @omhsdrama on Instagram. Our show is in January!
After hearing the name Airtable dozens of times on my theater teacher Facebook groups, I finally bit. It only took me a week of playing with the powerful database platform to realize that I needed to pay for the premium features and use this for the rest of my teaching career.
What is Airtable? Well think Sheets or Excel, but on steroids. Not only can Airtable organize a spreadsheet and take updates from a form submission, but it has powerful "Blocks" that let you create printable layouts, timelines, etc, AND you can pull in data from other sheets for some really amazing applications.
Here are just three of the many ways I'm use Airtable to make my daily life as a drama teacher easier.
There's been a lot of talk lately about extracurricular activities that ask for an all-or-nothing commitment from students. But where does it stop being the fault of the teachers, and start becoming the responsibility of parents and students to choose?
When I was in high school, my gym teacher aggressively tried to recruit me to play lacrosse. I enjoyed it in class, but athletics where I attended tenth grade were daily after school, and I wasn't about to give up drama club from 2:05-4:30 every Tuesday and Thursday to play a sport. I was still able to serve as president of the National Honors Society, edit the student literary magazine, serve as my homeroom rep, and attend Monday meetings of the art club. And I held down twenty hours a week working retail, participated in Venture Scouting, and earned my Girl Scout Gold Award. I just couldn't play lacrosse.
Looking back I sometimes wonder if that was the right choice. I recently found out that The Savannah College of Art and Design (where I earned my BFA in Performing Arts) has a really good lacrosse team and that--had I been good enough-- I might have been able to get a scholarship instead of swimming in student loan debt for ten years after graduating. But playing lacrosse would have meant giving up so much more, and given the path I chose, those hours of rehearsal provided an education more valuable than being debt-free a few years earlier.
This post breaks down how I used a Trello Gold membership (less than $60 a year) to make a flexible digital lesson planner. I use Trello boards for project management for theatre productions as well as a number of other personal projects, so I find a Gold membership to have value beyond replacing the price of a snazzy lesson planner. When I consider the fact that my colleagues spend about as much on their Erin Condren planners and can't even attach Google documents, I think it's worth the cost. The real reason I wanted to go digital was for the ability to adapt without burning a whole in a paper planner with my eraser. Surprise pep rally? I can just drag and drop my activities to another day of the week!
After upgrading your free membership to Trello Gold, which allows three Power-Ups to be used (if you want more, you can use Trello Business for $120 a year), you will need to add these three upgrades:
You've seen the meme-- there's even a Netflix series based on it. Someone attempts to create a thing they found on Pinterest and posts the disastrous results side-by-side with the caption "Nailed It!" It happened when I attempted to make those cookie cups that were going around five years ago by putting dough on the bottom of a muffin tin.
I was actually successful this time! After finding multiple pins suggesting I use foam noodles to make columns, I knew I had to give it a try. But we couldn't just do the project straight off of Pinterest. For one, most of the tutorials had us making twisted columns, and we needed straight fluting for our Greek set. Secondly, we have an 18ft proscenium to dwarf anything we put on stage. We needed to make them MUCH bigger.
We began with Sakrete tubes which, by the way, are not actually standard in size.
Amy is a drama teacher with an M.Ed. in Secondary Education, ELA, teaching in the suburbs of Birmingham, AL.