I am a Literature teacher of the Adolescent Program of the La Granja Bukidnon farm campus, located near the old Cagayan de Oro airport (there are other campuses around the country, which I will identify later). The current Literature program entails that the students read 8-9 novels per school year. Usually, at the end of these books, the students do what is called a Dramatis Personae, where the students choose a character that they like, make up a script, put together a costume, and do a one-man show in front of their peers (including schoolmates from other year levels). This is one of my favorite requirements for my Literature class. Read on and check out the videos, and I'm sure you'll see why.
Here’s one such dramatis personae, performed by a grade 9 student, Franklin Chaves. He played the character Mr. Jones from the book, Animal Farm by George Orwell.
As you can see, there are several skills that can be sharpened from requiring each student to do a dramatis personae:
Confidence. Fear of speaking in public paralyses even many adults, often because they did not conquer this during their younger years. Graduates from The Abba’s Orchard are known to be great at public speaking (both the skill and in the confidence). The dramatis is one of the reasons why, and many an alumnus has thanked me for making them do this.
Creative Writing. Since they make their own scripts, there is a lot of artistic license that goes into it. It’s as if the dramatis is a child, and the parents being the book source material and the adolescent’s imagination. Therefore, over my nearly a decade of teaching, I’ve seen all sorts of performances ranging from dead serious ones, to those so heart wrenching it made the audience cry, to those that so hilarious that it also brought us to tears.
Creativity and Planning. Writing up the script is not the only part where the creative muscles are flexed. There’s coming up with the props and costume. I discourage buying or renting, because it’s not worth spending so much just for a few minutes of use. I’d rather they improvise with whatever they have from the home. To make things livelier, many students also use “props” in the form of their classmates and/or friends.
Reading Comprehension. The dramatis does not directly sharpen this, but the students know very well that acting ability is not the only criteria in grading these performances…it’s also important that the content is accurate with the book source material and there is a lot of knowledge to be gained from the performance. That can only be done if the teen has finished the novel and understood every page of it.
I’d like to show you another dramatis personae, performed by a grade 7 student, Atiyyah Read. She played the character Calpurnia from the book To Kill a Mockingbird. What’s amazing about this little number is that it’s her first go at it, ever.
The 2nd trimester has just ended; so many books were read and therefore so many great performances were given. Allow me to show clips of many of these, just from these past two trimesters.
Other than the usual literature books that you’d expect to be read, I also have what I dub as “grow books,” which are meant to bring out the best in the students. Hey, if self-help books are big sellers in bookstores, students should have access to them as well.
One of my most celebrated articles from this blog is about one such book, the Buy Pinoy Experiment based on 12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do For Their Country by Alex Lacson. I also have books that give wisdom on boy-girl relationships, a touchy subject that many teens struggle with, often with dire consequences. Here are some articles I made about my students' responses to said books:
I am also in charge to make a video after every trimester, a video that summarizes what the students go through. I will post below the two videos I made so far (since two of the three trimesters have just ended):
If you are interested to know more about The Abba’s Orchard school, you can feel free to visit their website. I work with the teens, but their Infant Community (Nursery), Casa (preschool), and Elementary programs are amazing. When it comes to overall-excellence, it’s hard to beat the young men and women we produce, especially if they start at the very beginning of the program. Their website will also tell you where you can find an Abba’s Orchard school campus nearest you (Davao, Cebu, Manila). You can also visit the Facebook page here.
I want to end this entry by once again sharing a video that you may have seen before if you have followed by blog for quite a while. It’s called Montessori Madness, and it pretty much hits the bulls-eye when it comes to why Montessori schools, when done right, are great.
(This blog site, Lessons Of A Dad is mostly about parenting, marriage, and other topics aimed to develop the reader’s mind, body, and soul. I’d consider it an honor if you’d follow or subscribe to this site. You can also go to my Facebook page here, and I’m also on Twitter at @lessonsofadad)