What could be more fun than making a puppet show, especially if you’re a kid in school and it’s your classwork or you’re in an after school program? Puppetry in the classroom is one of the most effective methods for educators to engage learners of any age. It provides pathways for students to apply their knowledge in fun and meaningful ways while creatively solving real world problems. The challenge for puppeteers who are teaching artists is communicating with teachers and other stakeholders just how well making and performing puppet shows integrate with classroom content to achieve learning targets and meet curriculum standards. Lesson plans are a tremendous aid for this and are an essential part of the process of preparing for a residency. They clarify what will happen during the residency and articulate how each milestone or step of the process aligns with the curriculum while clarifying what is expected from teachers, students and artists. They are the how, what and why of the residency. This workshop will examine effective methods for working with educators and other program providers to plan residencies, match creative objectives with learning targets, and provide strategies for using puppetry to assess student understanding of content. It is meant to give those with little experience a basic understanding of what lesson plans are and how to use them to fit their puppet project into the classroom. More experienced teaching artists can hone their planning skills and share their experience. An extensive PDF handout will be provided prior to the workshop with lesson plan templates and other useful tools for making the puppetry residency a wonderful learning experience for every stakeholder.
Michael Lamason is executive director and co-founder in 1980 of Baltimore’s Black Cherry Puppet Theater. The troupe pursues three goals: to excel at the art of puppetry, to make its unique cultural tradition accessible to the widest audience, and to use it as an educational tool. He has produced more than twenty-five puppet productions and presented thousands of performances throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. The theater serves as a model of how small arts organizations can serve as catalysts for change in communities by driving neighborhood redevelopment and providing need based programs. Black Cherry’s signature arts integrated residency, The Engineering of a Puppet Show, introduces children to engineering, planning, and problem solving as they make elaborate puppet shows based on stories developed in the classroom. He was the Puppeteer in Residence at the Maryland Artist/Teacher Institute for fifteen years. This unique program teamed master teachers and teaching artists to develop strategies for integrating arts into the curriculum. He currently conducts puppetry based professional development programs, leads residencies in half a dozen schools each year, and manages the theater. Black Cherry has been a three-time winner of the Maryland State Arts Council’s prestigious Cherry Adler Award for Excellence in Children’s Theater.