Theater and Speech Communication is a new class this year. We started with very little curriculum, just the basic idea that we’d study theater for a trimester, speech for a trimester, and then maybe video creation for the last trimester.

One of the main concepts my students wanted to learn about was acting techniques.

And I’ll be honest: I know very little about theater. Sure, I’ve been an assistant director for the past few years, but other than that and Theater 101 in college (and we’re talking pre-21st century), I know nothing. Speech is my area of specialty.

This is not a problem, though.

I did a modicum of research to find some of the prominent forms of acting and narrowed them down to Stanislavsky, Strassberg, Meisner, and Practical Aesthetics.

That’s where I stopped and turned to the students.

After randomly splitting into four groups, each group researched their style and planned a presentation and activity around their style.

Admittedly, I have amazing students in this class, but they’ve dug into their technique research with alacrity!

The first group, the Practical Aesthetic presenters, led class today. After describing the technique, they led the class in a webbing discussion about the connections between characters in our one-act play script for this year.

You can see them in action (and their web in process on the board) below:

Again, I realize I have amazing students, and that’s one reason they embraced this lesson set.

However, I don’t think this would have worked if I’d just created this idea on my own. We spent time at the beginning of the year brainstorming and voting for their learning targets. Most of them prioritized acting techniques as one of their top three “wants” for this trimester of learning. There wasn’t much buy-in needed. They jumped in because they’d already told me this was what they wanted to learn—even if it wasn’t something I knew much about.

So take the plunge. Let them tell you want they want to learn, and then, just get out of the way.