K-12 Outreach: Welcome to Summer!
Schools, Teachers, Parents — Click the tabs below to read our blog posts about valuable resources for your K-12 children!
Why You Should Enroll Your Young Dancer in Zoom Class This Summer
Hammer Theatre’s resident ballet company and the only American Ballet Theatre Certified School in the region, San Jose’s New Ballet, is offering weekly interactive online classes for ages 3-8, as well as others. The Hammer hung out with professional dancer, company member, and 3-4 teacher, Bryn Graham, and got the scoop on teaching our future dancers.
The first thing we learned about Bryn and teachers at New Ballet, is that they are dedicated to engaging personally, as well as professionally, with ALL their students. While the adjustment to Zoom was a challenge, Bryn has learned how to maximize learning in the online world.
Bryn on keeping kids engaged during class:
“I’ve tried to keep it ritualistic and consistent week to week. …Their attention span is the same whether you’re there or whether you’re on a screen. I’ve realized that things work out a lot better if I can simulate having that close relationship.”
To keep kids engaged in a Zoom class, Bryn utilizes a combination of camera angles and perspectives, and also encourages interaction between students. For example, when a new student joins the class, Bryn will ask their classmates to wave hello to them. During class she will incorporate activities that encourage skills like taking turns. She also uses her ABT training to emphasize the values of the New Ballet in training young dancers: there is no heavy handed technique at this age. Instead, children are encouraged to access their natural tendency towards movement and rhythm, engage their imaginations, and have fun!
Bryn has discovered some surprising benefits of online training, especially for young ones. First, she says, Zoom class means new dancers are at home, a comfortable, familiar environment, rather than a big, and possibly scary, studio. Thus, they may come out of their shell quickly and be less shy about doing new things. Another benefit of dance class is the development of fine motor and crossbody skills. This is incredibly important considering that “In the USA, as much as 80 percent of children score below the norms determined in the 1980s.” By joining the New Ballet’s Zoom Interactive class now, rather than waiting, you are giving your child early exposure that will support them later, for whatever situation our world has in store.
In addition to classes for 3-8 year olds, Bryn and her fellow teachers at New Ballet offer classes in multiple levels and ages, for beginning through experienced dancers. You can find a list of classes they offer, as well as ones from schools around the country, at newballet.com/live. Check it out!
Take advantage of STEM Resources From Hammer Partners This Summer
One of the Hammer’s most popular programs for kids AND adults, National Geographic LIVE, was cut short by Covid-19 shelter-in-place orders. The folks at Nat Geo have done a great job bringing it to us in virtual form via a 5 week series of FB Live broadcasts featuring scientists and explorers from around the world. While it’s not exactly the same as hosting inside our Sobrato Auditorium, we’re grateful that we’ve had the chance to meet even more awesome speakers. While they have not yet announced what’s to follow, you can still view all 5 episodes here.
In addition to these, Nat Geo also offers Explorer Classroom, live at 11AM most days! You can even register for a chance at one of six on-camera spots to ask Explorers your questions face to face! Additional shows in Spanish and ASL are coming soon, so be sure to check back often!
And for even more resources, check out their updated “At Home” page for family friendly and kid accessible activities, articles, and videos.
Another favorite Hammer production you might remember is Erths Prehistoric Aquarium Adventure. The folks at Erth plan to tour in the fall with a new show, Dinosaur Zoo Live. While we wait for the time when we can all gather together again, Erth has put together a fun workbook for kids in the 7-12 age range. You can download it and while you’re there, read all about the plans for Erth’s future, including where they might be touring next.
If you’d love to see Dinosaur Zoo Live at The Hammer, please let us know; while we can never guarantee bookings, we always do our best to take our patrons desires into consideration!
Experience A Modern Shakespeare Education Online
Many awesome organizations have diverse and entertaining resources for current Shakespeare fans to share with their younger, burgeoning ones. While some lucky parents may be able to share these directly with their teens, we recommend leaving them with a trusted aunt, uncle, or friend. Your teen will never know it was actually YOU who snuck some culture into their summer entertainment schedule—they’ll just think they’re the cool kid who knows something the others don’t when they return to the classroom next fall!
In addition to National Theatre Live’s weekly free streams released each Thursday, which include Shakespeare as well as other playwrights, there are a plethora of free Shakespeare offerings online in audio, video, and even comic book form!
For your audiophile with their earbuds constantly preventing them from hearing you (strange though, that they seem to hear just fine when dinner is ready…!) Here are a few podcast suggestions:
Breaking Bard: A Ripe Good Scholar Podcast that aims to break down the mythic image constructed around Shakespeare by having honest conversations. Episodes bring Shakespeare into the “Now” by referencing real world current events and their relationship to plots from Romeo & Juliet to Hamlet to Julius Caesar.
For parents with 8th and 9th graders who will likely be encountering Romeo and Juliet this Fall, Marie Bagdanov—“Ms. B”—recorded a 5-episode podcast series, Teacher Talk, for her remote class, now available to the public, covering each of R&J’s five acts. Get a head start on the school year by listening in!
If your teen doesn’t yet seem as enthralled by Shakespeare as you might have hoped, then maybe try to pique their interest with these 10 films, ranging from straight script to plot based, suggested by the British Film Institute. (A few of them seem spot on for those of us raised in the 90’s; others may appeal only to teens who enjoy a spot of cream in their English Breakfast morning tea…).
For a full authentic yet modern experience, travel to London (via YouTube!) and visit Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The Merry Wives of Windsor is on now, through June 14th. If you discover they love it (of course they will!) and you have the means, you can support The Globe in its efforts to stick around for our next generation by renting or purchasing videos of previous shows at https://globeplayer.tv/.
Comic book lovers who spend time online may already be familiar with readcomiconline.to which hosts a surfeit of well written and artistically laid out original comics. One of these is “Fables” (Imagine a darker version of the ABC sitcom “Once Upon A Time” using standard fairy tale characters like Red Riding Hood, The Woodsman, and the Three Little Pigs). Another is “Kill Shakespeare.” What “Fables” does for fairy tales, “Kill Shakespeare” does with the greatest writer of all time. This dark take pits Shakespeare’s greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello, Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare. While it may not be the most traditional introduction to The Bard, it definitely embraces the spirit of creativity he represents. And embracing a larger definition of reading allows us to prevent a summer slump, especially when stakes are even higher this year. Warning: Parents may want to be aware that the ads on the site are a bit gratuitous; engaging in conversation with your teen about what they see on the internet is always a great idea.