Human Slide Show

I use this technique all of the time—it is one of the go to strategies for all kinds of English language teaching through drama. I have used it with my newcomer English Language Learners, my mainstream drama students, my long term El students when we are diving into complex text, for adult theatre students —you get the idea. It is a great way to get students talking about main ideas, important details, narrative arc, characters—pretty much anything related to text. And any text will work: folktales, chapters of novels, Shakespeare, even non-fiction (works quite well with history texts btw). Basically, it’s several frozen pictures in chronological order. It can be of anything, and works especially well with orally told tales. The video example is from a Haitian story called “Monkey and Papa God.” I always do this after the initial training in tableau creation and lots of experience with it through freeze frame, location tableaux, etc. I then tell the story (reproduced below), and then simply say: “I want you to recreate the story in a series of 5 pictures. Imagine you are an artist hired to illustrate a new children’s book based on this story. But the budget was for only 5 pictures. What would you choose to draw? “ I demonstrate and present a solo slide show of a baseball pitcher with these 5 images—I act each tableau out, calling “lights out” between tableau encouraging students to shut their eyes.

1. Winding up to throw a pitch.

2. Following through after throwing the ball.

3. My eyes follow an imaginary ball, batted quite well.

4. I see the ball go over the fence (behind me) for a home-run.

5. I walk off the field, head down dejected.

Then the students tell me the “story” they just saw. And now they are ready to create their human slide show. We do first talk about what would make a good slide show. Rosalind M. Flynn has an excellent short book entitled “Tableau Classroom Drama Activities” that outlines quite clearly some other uses of this technique as well providing criteria for what makes a good slide show. But in general it is each tableau is still, students make the transitions as smooth (and in my opinion, as theatrical) as possible. The video is of my mainstream sixth grade students, as I, for some reason, have no recent video of my EL students. But the essence is the same. I also like to put slide shows to music.