Last year, I began my journey with the 5th grade Module 1:Stories of Human Rights. Unit 3 (Readers Theater: Esperanza Rising, From Novel to Script ) is where I realized I was ‘covered in frost and couldn’t see the world around me’. I had to trust the lessons that were guiding the children to write their own Readers Theater script. The script’s theme is based on one of the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The children must pull out events from the novel Esperanza Rising that show where that right was being upheld or challenged and then build a script that revolves around their human right theme.
Reflecting back on that period last year, I have to wonder if my students could see the sweat coming down my face, if they could hear my heart flutter a few extra beats, or if they heard the uncertainty in my voice as they diligently worked in their groups. I was having a difficult time ‘seeing’ where the end result was going to land. But I could see and feel my students’ excitement with their upcoming performances. Their enthusiasm kept me going.
Before we knew it, the big day was upon us. My students had practiced their scripts, prepared their props, and were abuzz with excitement…and I was a worried mess that I had invited other classes, administrators and teachers to come to watch! As each Theater group took their turn in the spotlight, and our guests sat in awe of their performances, tears filled my eyes! I couldn’t help it! I saw my students, with ease and confidence; tell a story about human rights. They nailed it, and I couldn’t have been more proud of them.
The defroster had finally kicked in and I was able to see the world around me again; a world in which students were communicating the connection of their understanding of events from a novel with their knowledge of human rights.
Kristina Lewis is a fifth grade teacher in the Lake Shore Central School District. She is also a member of the Grades 3-5 ELA Community of Practice.