Archive for January, 2012

Freedom for the First Time

Freedom for the First TimeFreedom for the First Time depicts the Day of Jubilee, the moment slaves were emancipated at the conclusion of the Civil War. It’s one of Mack’s most poignant plays and an ideal candidate for inclusion in your African-American History Month activities. It’s suitable for kids as young as grade 3 and as mature as grade 8. Perform it as simple reader’s theater, record and post a podcast (see below), or consider adding traditional slave spirituals and create a full-blown stage production. Also be sure to check out Mack’s free guide to using drama in the classroom, which provides brain research on how play scripts build fluency. To preview and/or purchase Freedom for the First Time, visit Mack’s storefront at TeachersPayTeachers. For just three bucks, you’ll receive the rights to copy a class set of scripts each year for use in the original purchaser’s classroom.


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Podcasts for Black History Month

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_Public Domain_NYWTSConsider producing one of Mack’s African-American history plays as podcasts for Black History Month. Mrs. Merenda’s class in Maine produced two podcasts in 2011. You can listen to their performances of Box Brown’s Freedom Crate and Mack’s play from MLK’s childhood entitled I Have a Dream simply by clicking on the title. Both plays originally appeared in Scholastic’s Storyworks magazine. If you like more information about how to create a podcast with your students, take a look at this Youtube video. All of Mack’s plays are written with both the classroom and the stage in mind, so they make excellent podcasts. Visit Mack’s storefront at TeachersPayTeachers for a wide variety of reader’s theater selections.

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Newly Revised for Black History Month

Jackie Robinson play coverJackie Robinson’s impact on Civil Rights has been largely under-appreciated. As the first man to break the “color barrier” of professional sports, Robinson opened the door for millions of American youth to look beyond skin color and instead focus on character and accomplishment. Robinson’s ordeal should never be forgotten, and this classroom play helps kids understand and appreciate just what Jackie went through to save America. How Jackie Saved the World was originally published in the October 2004 issue of Scholastic’s Storyworks magazine. It’s been newly revised with historical photos and embedded comprehension questions just in time for February’s African-American History Month and Major League Baseball’s Spring Training. Kids say this is one of their favorites to enact, so don’t miss out. Download a free preview at TeachersPayTeachers by clicking here.

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Pigtails and Protests

Pigtails and Protests CoverJust in time for Martin Luther King Day and African-American History Month comes Pigtails and Protests, a new Civil Rights play by Mack Lewis. The play, which tells the story of Dr. King’s “Youngest Freedom Fighters” appears in the January 2012 issue of Scholastic’s Storyworks magazine.  Despite dangerous conditions, eight-year-old Sheyann Webb and 9-year-old Rachel West joined the Voting Rights protests in Selma, Alabama. The campaign culminated in the famous “Bloody Sunday” event in which state troopers on horseback used tear gas and billy clubs to suppress an otherwise peaceful crowd of marchers. It’s considered a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement.  The play includes historical images.  To check it out you’ll need to visit the Storyworks website, where you can get a FREE trial subscription to the best classroom magazine on the planet.

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New on

The Girl Who Got Arrested read-aloud playMack’s Civil Rights play, The Girl Who Got Arrested, is now available on TeachersPayTeachers. The play, which was originally published in Scholastic’s Storyworks magazine, is based on real events from the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Over the years Rosa Parks has received the lion’s share of attention for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus, but before Rosa came a teenager named Claudette Colvin. Claudette, acting spontaneously and in response to what she’d been learning in school about the Constitution, refused to give up her seat and was jailed. She was initially lauded a hero, but when the Justice System unceremoniously convicted her, the Black community and history itself turned against her. Her story has been recounted in Phillip Hoose’s award-winning book, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, which was one of several resources Mack used in creating this play.  This is a gritty, hard-hitting classroom play that brings a new perspective to instruction about the Montgomery Campaign. Check it out at TpT!

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