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Teaching and Learning

Home  >  Teaching and Learning  >  Writing Workbooks  >  Elementary School
Four Elementary Bilingual/ESl Exercises  -  Culture and History Drama Exercise
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Culture and History Drama Exercise

The Culture and History Drama Exercise was used during the school year 1997-98 at Willlowcrest Elementary School as a way to engage students in the process of understanding the importance of respect for other cultures and diversity. These issues are especially relevant to ESL and bilingual students, who are themselves often on the margins of American culture and face issues of assimilation and sometimes prejudice. By learning about Anne Frank’s experience in World War II, students were able to see what happened to one group of people when prejudice resulted in genocide. By writing and presenting the play to their peers, students were able to put themselves in the shoes of someone in another culture, also giving them a historical and personal perspective from which to view an aspect of World War II.

The Culture and History Drama Exercise can be adapted to inform the study of numerous historical subjects where the dominant culture of a society oppresses a minority within it.

Background to the Play
Sixteen bilingual students at Willowcrest Elementary School in Anchorage read books about the Frank family, watched the original movie of the play The Diary of Anne Frank, and viewed a production of an original play in Anchorage, put on by the Alaska Children’s Theater. After weeks of research and discussion, bilingual students got into small groups to write their own play, scene by scene, about the Frank family.

Once completed, a director at the Children’s Theater came to Willowcrest and led a full-day workshop with the students, teaching them the basics of acting, and working with them on their play. The students created their own sets and scenes, and finally performed the work in the library, for several different classes within their school. The culmination of this work was a performance of The Frank Family Goes Into Hiding: A Play the following year at the 1998 Bilingual Multi-Cultural Equity Conference, following a presentation by LaVon Bridges about the power of literature in helping bilingual students to learn to read and write.

Yolanda PolancoThe project was inspired and supervised by Yolanda Polanco, bilingual master tutor at Willowcrest Elementary, who is originally from Puerto Rico and is fluent in Spanish. She began as a tutor in the Bilingual Multicultural Education Program at the Anchorage School District in the 1979-80 academic year, and now serves as a Bilingual Master Tutor at Willowcrest Elementary School.

Yolanda was nominated Bilingual Educator of the Year for Anchorage by the Alaska Association of Bilingual Educators and was awarded State Bilingual Educator of the year in 1991. The following year, Polanco received the honor of being awarded National Bilingual Educator of the Year by the National Association of Bilingual Educators.


 

Next page:   The Frank Family Goes Into Hiding: A Play Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6 


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