Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stand for Peace, Tucson!

I wanted to share a little bit about our first school project. I was so proud of our cast, as they were thrown headfirst into the fire, and they did so great!

Stand for Peace is uwp's classroom curriculum on diversity and how to be peaceful in your own community. The theme is that each one of us is "a piece of the peace", and introduces the concept of having "power with" someone rather than power over them. Conveniently, one of the songs in the uwp show right now is called "Power with." Here's your dose of uwp lyrics for the week: "power with a sister or brother is stronger than power over each other."

The stand for peace program consists of a two-hour workshop in a classroom in the morning with students (usually 3-4 cast members in each room). The cast members share a bit about their home countries, lead a combination of team-building activities, and begin that dialogue about what it means to be peaceful when you're in 3rd-5th grade. We usually eat lunch with the students, and then perform an abbreviated version of the up with people show in the afternoon.

This program was originally designed for upper elementary students, but here in Tucson, the year-round middle school really wanted us to work with their 8th graders. Our Ed team's project for the past week was to adapt the Stand for Peace curriculum to be appropriate for older students, and train our cast to be able to facilitate this workshop in classrooms.

I was most proud of the closing activity, which I adapted from an old uwp curriculum to fit this current structure, and be effective for middle school. The "Piece of the Peace" puzzle consisted of 19 pieces. The class was split into 6 groups, and each group got 3 pieces of the puzzle. On their three pieces they write statements of how they can be a piece of the peace in their school, with their friends, or at home. We put the puzzle together (minus the last piece), stick it to a backing, and it forms a world. The last piece says, "I am a piece of the peace" and every student in the class signs that piece as a commitment to try one of the things they see written on the puzzle. We leave the puzzle with the class as a reminder of the day.

I was really pleased with the visual, though I was worried that the preparations of 10 posterboard puzzles was going to be too much. I spent a long time on creating a stencil so we can mass-produce the puzzle for future use. It ended up being a pretty good system, if I do say so myself.

I was worried that the cast didn't have enough time to prepare for their classroom work, and was pleasantly surprised by how successful they were with their first experiences. They were no CLIMB actors, that's for sure, and I had a hard time not comparing because my personal classroom presentation standards are so high! But for the purpose of the Stand for Peace program, our cast really owned the curriculum and made it theirs.

And the student reactions were so positive, and they showed their appreciation by being an exuberant audience for the mini-show in the afternoon. They cheered and swayed, and stood up and did the "stomp" (which they learned in the morning workshop) along with the cast, and they were just so enthusiastic and really fun to perform for.

I am looking forward to our next Stand for Peace days, coming up in Corcoran, CA.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Hey Scott and Ellen...Kelly Paluso here. I saw your link on the cast c page and i see ya'll are coming to Portland, OR. We should get together. Do you need a place to stay? Email me.