For more than 10 years, TimeLine has been stepping off the stage and into the classroom with its Living History Education Program. Led by founding Company Member and Director of Education Juliet Hart, Living History’s teaching artists collaborate with classroom teachers to create lesson plans that illuminate the themes of TimeLine productions and connect them to each classroom’s curriculum. Over the course of these residencies, students work on scenes from the show, are provided with study guides that help them understand the play’s themes, and even have the opportunity to meet the production’s actors and dramaturg and attend a student matinee of the play.
In an effort to help teachers across the country bring Living History’s curriculum into their own classrooms, Juliet and her colleagues Mark Onuscheck and Mary T. Christel have published their first educational resource book, Acting It Out. “Truthfully, I hadn’t ever really considered writing a book—and certainly not a textbook! But I was presenting at a national conference for English teachers in 2014 and Routledge [the book’s eventual publisher] approached me about developing our session into a book,” Juliet said. “With the encouragement of my co-writers, especially Living History’s curriculum consultant, Mary Christel, I started to think about all of the teachers across the country who don’t have access to Chicago’s many incredible arts residency opportunities, and who might just need an enthusiastic and reassuring guide to help them implement the classroom activities that we use in many different ways and across many curriculums in CPS.”
I started to think about all of the teachers across the country who don’t have access to Chicago’s many incredible arts residency opportunities, and who might just need an enthusiastic and reassuring guide to help them implement the classroom activities that we use in many different ways. – Juliet Hart
Jam-packed with content, Acting It Out provides educators strategies for integrating active approaches to dramatic literature, annotated reading lists highlighting each play’s content, group activities, handouts, rubrics, and even a list of recommended plays that includes several TimeLine premieres, an element that was important to Juliet. “It was exciting to be able to include plays in the appendix that received a world premiere at TimeLine, (John Conroy’s My Kind of Town and Brett Neveu’s Harmless) and to imagine a teacher who might not otherwise be aware of them using them to bring timely, compelling stories into their classroom—stories that might resonate with their students, or help them look at our world and our country though a different lens.”
We are incredibly proud of this amazing accomplishment and hope that it will inspire teachers and future generations of creators, educators, and storytellers. “It’s been a terrific exercise in love, advocacy, and looking back through so many residencies: the teaching artists, classroom teachers, TimeLine actors, directors, dramaturgs, designers, and students who have added so much to our program through the years,” Juliet said. “In examining our pedagogy in such detail, I hope that we’ve strengthened our methods, and that the book has helped me be a stronger leader for this program.”