Colorado Humanities & History in Person present
Stepping into Character
Celebrating the Many Voices of History
Adding Your Voice to the Choir
This multimedia resource includes a series of six learning modules written for a group model with a leader (teacher, parent, Young Chautauqua coach, or mature student) of a school, after-school, home school, or other community group.
Six Learning Modules
1. The HeArt and Science of Choosing a Character
2. Digging Deep – Researching Your Character – Meet Dr. Research
3. Writing the Script – Dueling Timelines and Collecting Stories
4. Writing the Script – Shaping the Emotional Arc of the Story,
Choosing Your Now, Strong Openings and Impactful Endings
5. Character Development and Stepping on Stage – Props and Costume
6. Rehearsal is Rewriting and Preparing for the Q & A
Each module offers:
- A brief introduction to the lesson at hand with lead scholar Brian “Fox” Ellis
- Young Chautauqua and professional scholars share insights into their process for developing new characters and offer diverse voices
- Sample performances that model the process show students the ideas in action
- Mini-master classes with each scholar
- Essays that dive deeper into a Chautauqua character
- Sample posts for online discussion, such as “share 3-5 bullet points answering the question: What ideas did you find useful and how can you apply these ideas to the development of your character?” help keep students on task together and engage them in lively discussion
- Study sheet to help students walk through each step of their assignments
- Checklist so they know that they have completed the task list
- Simple rubrics help leaders (teachers, coaches, mature students) and the students to clarify goals, evaluate completion of the tasks, and raise the bar for self-expectations.
- Notes and tips for the leader on coaching and facilitating progress, peer reviews, and a few suggestions for helping students who are having difficulties. For example, leaders can assign specific video clips and/or essays for specific lessons or offer the entire series and ask students to watch and read a few that interest them and provide a brief report on the video/s and essay/s they chose to view and read. Leader notes also detail a to-do checklist, materials needed, expectations, and additional resources. Activities are described in more formal language and mapped to Colorado state and federal standards for learning goals.
In-person manuals for teachers and another for coaches are available from Colorado Humanities by reaching out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Chautauqua movement and why this work matters
- Costumes and hair through the ages
- Transcriptions of mini-master classes (in English and Spanish)
- Brian “Fox” Ellis’ essays on characters he portrays and what he has learned from them.
Every episode is introduced by the lead instructor Brian “Fox” Ellis. There are quotes from other scholars, including Young Chautauqua performers who also serve as peer navigators throughout the course. Each module also offers excerpts from professional performances chosen to highlight the focus of module. And there are student performances so there are peer related role models.
Each of the guest scholars share a mini-master class with insights into their process for developing new characters. Excerpts from these interviews are interwoven with each module offering diverse voices in each lesson.
Linked to each module will be additional essays that dive deeper into one Chautauqua character to exemplify a few of the big ideas within this lesson. There will also be links to performances of these characters so students can see the ideas in action. Students will be given the opportunity to read these essays and write 3-5 bullet points answering the question: What ideas did you find useful and how can you apply these ideas to the development of your character? Teachers can assign specific video clips, with the accompanying essays for specific lessons OR offer the entire series asking students to watch & read one, two or a few, and give extra credit for a brief report on the video & essay they chose.
On the facing page of each chapter will be a brief synopsis with learning goals. Since this written text is for students, it will NOT look like a typical lesson plan. But for the teachers it will spell out goals, learning standards, materials needed, expectations, and additional resources. There will be simple google forms/study sheets to help students walk through each step of their assignments and a checklist at the end so they know that they have completed the task list. These will be tied to the rubric by which they are being evaluated so there can be clear goals to raise the bar for self-expectations.
With additional support material for teachers, coaches, and parents, every module will include a note to the leader with more formal language for Learning Goals and topics for the student discussion board. There will be tips for leaders, to-do checklist for teachers, and a few suggestions for helping students who are having difficulties with each lesson.
Six Week Training Module For Stepping Into Character
Please put an x on each circle as you accomplish each task!
Admit it… It feels good to check off a list.
We are following a Watch, Read, Do format. Each week you will Watch the introductory video and a few sample performances. You will Read the accompanying material, a book or two, or reread your own script. And then you will Do something, like research, write, rewrite, or rehearse your story.
Week 1 – The Art and Science of Choosing a Character
- Watch the the Video on Choosing a Character: https://youtu.be/gQRaMBiLdjU
- Watch Two Video Performances from the list. Contribute to a class discussion..
- Read the Introduction and Text from first Module.
- Read one of these summaries of the process
Judith Black, An article written for the National Association of Interpreters:
Brian “Fox” Ellis, On page ten of this magazine there is a summary of the process: https://www.momcc.org/resources/Documents/Magazine%202019%20WINTER%20Color.pdf
- Do begin research to help with your selection
- Do fill in the simple task sheet to document your selection process
- Do DECIDE who you will become on this journey!
Week 2 – Digging Deep – Researching Your Character
- Watch the video on Researching Your Character: https://youtu.be/gGAaoIja8_4
- Watch the Dr. Research video: https://youtu.be/NGcxfXcAGvw
- Watch two more video performances from the list. Contribute to a class discussion.
- Read at least one biography and one autobiography or primary source document.
- Read deeply and widely about Your Character, Take Notes, Collect Quotes
- Do collect dates and fill in the study sheet on Dueling Timelines
- Do tell stories to family and friends, use “I” and “me” and other first person pronouns.
Week 3 – Writing the Script – Dueling Time Lines & Collecting Stories
- Watch the video on Writing the Script – Timelines and Stories:
- Watch two more performances from the list. Contribute to a class discussion.
- Read the text for the third module
- Continue to Read about your character and their historical context
- Re- Read your favorite stories about your character that you discovered in your research.
- Do fill in the study sheet on Dueling Timelines.
- Do make a decision about the point in time in which we are meeting your character.
Week 4 – Writing the Script – Shaping the Emotional Arc of the Story
Creating the Frame, A Strong Opening and Impactful Ending
- Watch the second video on Writing the Script – The Emotional Arc
- Watch Two more Video Performances from the list, Discuss.
- Re-Read your favorite stories about your character’s life, the ones you plan to tell.
- Re- Read the first draft of your monologue
- Do fill in the study sheet to help you outline your monologue
- Do finish your first draft of your monologue.
- Do continue to practice telling individual stories to family and friends.
Week 5 – Character Development – Stepping on Stage – Props, Costume, and Set Design
- Watch the video on Character Development
- Watch two more video performances from the list. Contribute to a class discussion.
- Re-Read your script looking for things to cut and ways to clarify ideas or stories or to smooth transitions.
- Re- Read any historical text that might help you add contextual history to your presentation or answer questions that arise in your rewriting.
- Do begin to piece together your costume
- Do begin to practice with a small group of friends, family or classmates by posting a video to the discussion and asking for feedback
Week 6 – Rehearsal is Rewriting & Preparing for the Q & A
- Watch the video on Rehearsal is Rewriting
- Watch your friends and classmates rehearse and see what you can learn from their performances.
- Re-Read your script looking for ways to add action and emotion to engage your audience.
- Re- Read any historical text that might help you add color to your presentation or answer a question that may arise.
- Do rehearse with a larger audience, take notes on improving the script immediately after every rehearsal.
- Do write and rehearse a few practice questions on your own and with each audience who hears you rehearse.
- If not meeting in-person, do this by posting a video of a rehearsal to the discussion and asking for feedback.
THE VIDEO: The video components are tied directly to the learning modules covering the same topics, but also including bonus material. The first video in each module is an introduction to the lesson, needed background material to complete the task, and a straightforward ‘to-do’ list students can complete before moving on to the next module. Every episode is introduced by the lead instructor, Brian “Fox” Ellis. They also include conversations with other scholars, encouragement and inspiration from Young Chautauqua Scholars, and instructions for coaching and peer review.
THE GUEST SCHOLARS SERIES: We have invited six guest scholars, including young scholars. Each scholar will be interviewed to share their insights into their process for developing new characters. Excerpts from these interviews will be interwoven with each video module so there are diverse voices in each lesson. These video interviews will also be posted in their entirety so students can be immersed in a mini-master class with each scholar. We will also have more than 30 excerpts from professional performances and Young Chautauqua performances, each excerpt chosen to highlight the lesson it is linked to.
IN-DEPTH ESSAYS FOR FURTHER STUDY – Linked to each module will be one or two additional essays that dive deeper into one Chautauqua character that exemplifies a few of the big ideas within this module. There will also be links to performances of these characters so students can see the ideas in action. Students will be given the opportunity to read these essays and write 3-5 bullet points answering the question: What ideas did you find useful and how can you apply these ideas to the development of your character? Teachers can assign specific video clips, with the essays, for specific lessons OR offer the entire series asking students to watch & read a few giving extra credit for their brief report on the video & essay they chose.