Les Miserables Project
I wanted to provide an optional extra credit project for my 7th grade English students. I asked them to attend a performance of Les Miserables Student Edition presented by our very talented Performing Arts department. I knew that information was going to be the key to the success of the project. Ask good questions- I wanted to know how much my students knew about the play and the time period. It turned out that the resources that came with the script were invaluable to giving enough information to provide background, but not too much to turn the students away. Access and acquire material- the actor’s guide gave an overview, and I provided a summary that did not give away too much of the plot. We also got to see the set and costumes prior to the performance to get into the time period and place. Analyze-the students had eight questions to review prior to the production, and they were asked to select at least five of the items to discuss in their review of the play. Apply- the critical analysis asked the student to apply their observations and assemble their thoughts in written format. Assess- this worked for both the student and the reader. The critical analysis asked the viewer/writer to explain why the reader should make an effort to see the show.
Seventeen of my students accepted the challenge, and I was very pleased with the results. Across the board, the students recognized the power of the story and the music. The show ran almost three hours, but the students were not put off by the length or amount of singing. I believe that the key to the success of this project was the gathering and use of information to create a memorable experience before, during, and after the performance.