I just finished reading the latest post over at Pedablogue about using theatrical teaching. I'm not sure I would rip a bible in half as I have the sometime misfortune to live and teach in the bible belt, but I definitely like to shock my kids a little. If nothing else, I like to make sure everybody is awake.
I've been teaching Oedipus to the World Lit class, and they've been pretty non-plussed about the whole thing even after I hyped up the murder/incest hook. After they finished working on their vocabulary on Wednesday, I casually took out my computer, went to a cheesy horoscope site, and asked a girl in the front what her sign was. After I read her horoscope for the day, a boy in the back asked if I would read his too. We continued on for a few minutes, all the while me seeming totally unconcerned that we weren't, you know, learning anything. I had 3 new students in my class that day. Suddenly, one of them yelled out, "Is she really reading our horoscope?! Does she do that everyday?!" But, I ignored their confusion and shock and went on with my "lesson."
After I read everyone's horoscope, I connected it to the play. Oedipus struggles with his fortune. Should he, and others, believe the oracle? Is his fate determined by prophecy? If the quarterback of the football team's horoscope warned him about getting injured that week, would he be tempted to skip practice, or even the big game on Friday?
I still don't think they really like Oedipus, but they gave me some pretty good effort that day. They like it when I'm not being "teacherly" and do unexpected things. Now, I feel like I am giving them a less than ok lesson when I don't have something unexpected or super interesting to do with them, and it's hard to make every lesson fresh and fascinating. Sometimes, I just need them to sit down and read the play.