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Peer Review

Classrooms Full of Stars: Theater Games in the Social Sciences

by Art Marmorstein


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4 stars
Reviewed: Dec 02, 2008 by Teacher Education
Overview: Described in MERLOT inventory as "Step-by-step instructions for teaching basic theater game techniques and for using theater games in the social sciences. All the steps necessary to IONize your classroom: exercises in cooperatION, concentratION, justificatION, motivatION, and improvisatION". Intent of this resource is to encourgage others to use active "theater" to improve student learning. Resource is focused on engagement of students in learning as a part of the traditional classroom experience. The resource provides step by step activities, a list of resources, and related videos.
Type of Material: Tutorial
Recommended Uses: This tutorial could be used as a demonstration for K-12 in-service teachers and in method courses in teacher education programs at the college level as exercises in historical problem solving and to explore contemporary issues. Middle school and high school teachers could use this tutorial as examples of theater games.
Technical Requirements: Media player to show RealMedia files.
Identify Major Learning Goals: Overarching learning goal in this LO is to improve student engagement, activity, and speaking skills through the use of game like videos in the Social Sciences.
Target Student Population: Middle School, High School, and college level at the undergraduate and graduate levels
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Instructors and students would need good reading, comprehension, and organizational skills to move through the details the author provides.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This Web site provides valid instructions for teaching basic theater game techniques and for using theater games in the social sciences. Each step in the tutorial presents detailed instructions and videos that illustrate the implementation of the steps. The last step includes a set of videos that illustrates a high school teacher implementing each of the tutorial steps with his students. Several of the videos show the students' products of their social science theater games.
Concerns: Some video links were broken.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: This tutorial with step-by-step instructions could be used as a demonstration for K-12 in-service teachers and teacher candidates in college level teacher education programs. This teaching strategy could be used by middle school and high school teachers to show examples of how to develop and present content knowledge through theater games. The videos in the last section are examples of students' products of their theater games. These videos could guide and maybe inspire middle school and high school students to develop their own theater games.
Concerns: Perhaps the use of several shorter objects might make the site easier to use.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The Web site is easy to navigate with large arrows on each page to go forward or backwards. The format of the Web site is simple but attractive. The videos are easy to access. As long as Real Player is installed, students should not have difficulty navigating this site.
Concerns: There is a concern that several of the videos were linked, but they did not connect. The linking page gave the message "Not Found". Videos were not found on the pages of Concentration, Imagination, third video on Establishing a Conflict, Complication, and Resolution. Downloading videos is problematic for those with low bandwidth.