A coeducational day school serving students JK-12

Upper school students transformed the fall play into a virtual, interactive experience, complete with an engaging website and a cutting-edge Zoom performance. Twenty-one students presented "Lucy Westenra is Not (and Will Never Be) a Vampire" from 20 different locations on October 28-30, 2020. The play, written by Latin alum and current lower school assistant teacher, Marjorie Muller '13," is based on Bram Stoker's classic novel "Dracula."

The production of presenting the virtual performance took careful planning and technological skill. Each student used a green screen (coupled with a chroma-key green virtual background) on Zoom. Back at Latin, a "mission control" center utilized brand new technology that was developed during the pandemic to route the live feeds of the actors on Zoom and make them appear in the custom configurations on screen. First, ZoomOSC software allowed "mission control" to see the location of each actor on the Zoom feed (top left, center right, bottom middle, etc.). Then software from Troikatronix called Isadora merged the performers onto shared backgrounds to make them appear like they were in the same location, plus it layered in video and audio effects. 

Actors view of Zoom

This is an example of the actors' view of Zoom. One of the Zoom "participants" is a view of the finished live feed of the show, so the actors can see where they appear on the screen to make sure they are facing the right way if they are interacting with another actor. The actors can't watch the Twitch live stream because it is several seconds behind the real-time Zoom.

Students developed problem-solving, creative-thinking and technology-building skills, which they will use to revamp theatrical performance experiences for years to come.

Working alongside upper school technical theater teacher Thad Hallstein, the show's student stage manager, Natalie R. '22, called out all of the screen configuration changes and audio and effects cues. This included giving the actors their cues in the Zoom chat as well as communicating with the actors in a separate group text chat for other directions. The student computer control operator, Elliot K. '22, then executed the cues in the performance software. He also served as an emergency understudy to step in front of a green screen set up at Latin should an actor's WIFI drop out or they lose connection with them on Zoom. Shane Enderle, a member of Latin's IT team, monitored the feed from the performance software to ensure the video and audio functioned properly in the live stream.

Software routing

This is a view of the complex configuration using Isadora that routed the actors' individual video feeds into the performance software and controlled how the actors appeared on screen.

 

Directed by upper school drama and technical theater teacher Frank Schneider, the show was viewable on Twitch, a live stream tool that was embedded on the website quincymorrison.net, which the students created specifically for the play.

View of streaming to Twitch

This is a view of one finished scene that streamed to Twitch, the live-streaming tool that the audience uses to view the performance.

Students developed problem-solving, creative-thinking and technology-building skills, which they will use to revamp theatrical performance experiences for years to come.

 

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Upper School Fall Play: Not Your Average Zoom

Upper school students transformed the fall play into a virtual, interactive experience, complete with an engaging website and a cutting-edge Zoom performance. Twenty-one students presented "Lucy Westenra is Not (and Will Never Be) a Vampire" from 20 different locations on October 28-30, 2020. The play, written by Latin alum and current lower school assistant teacher, Marjorie Muller '13," is based on Bram Stoker's classic novel "Dracula."

The production of presenting the virtual performance took careful planning and technological skill. Each student used a green screen (coupled with a chroma-key green virtual background) on Zoom. Back at Latin, a "mission control" center utilized brand new technology that was developed during the pandemic to route the live feeds of the actors on Zoom and make them appear in the custom configurations on screen. First, ZoomOSC software allowed "mission control" to see the location of each actor on the Zoom feed (top left, center right, bottom middle, etc.). Then software from Troikatronix called Isadora merged the performers onto shared backgrounds to make them appear like they were in the same location, plus it layered in video and audio effects. 

Actors view of Zoom

This is an example of the actors' view of Zoom. One of the Zoom "participants" is a view of the finished live feed of the show, so the actors can see where they appear on the screen to make sure they are facing the right way if they are interacting with another actor. The actors can't watch the Twitch live stream because it is several seconds behind the real-time Zoom.

Students developed problem-solving, creative-thinking and technology-building skills, which they will use to revamp theatrical performance experiences for years to come.

Working alongside upper school technical theater teacher Thad Hallstein, the show's student stage manager, Natalie R. '22, called out all of the screen configuration changes and audio and effects cues. This included giving the actors their cues in the Zoom chat as well as communicating with the actors in a separate group text chat for other directions. The student computer control operator, Elliot K. '22, then executed the cues in the performance software. He also served as an emergency understudy to step in front of a green screen set up at Latin should an actor's WIFI drop out or they lose connection with them on Zoom. Shane Enderle, a member of Latin's IT team, monitored the feed from the performance software to ensure the video and audio functioned properly in the live stream.

Software routing

This is a view of the complex configuration using Isadora that routed the actors' individual video feeds into the performance software and controlled how the actors appeared on screen.

 

Directed by upper school drama and technical theater teacher Frank Schneider, the show was viewable on Twitch, a live stream tool that was embedded on the website quincymorrison.net, which the students created specifically for the play.

View of streaming to Twitch

This is a view of one finished scene that streamed to Twitch, the live-streaming tool that the audience uses to view the performance.

Students developed problem-solving, creative-thinking and technology-building skills, which they will use to revamp theatrical performance experiences for years to come.

 

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Grid method in action

The Grid Method is a way of teaching that has proven successful in many classrooms at Latin across the middle school.

The Grid Method is an instructional framework for standards-based, mastery learning that is used in several science classes, language arts classes and language classes. Working from recognized standards, teachers create a grid of assignments and assessments for students to work through at their own pace. These assignments increase in complexity, from basic vocabulary up to higher-level thinking.

Grid method in action

A middle school science classroom has students working on a variety of activities according to the grid: some students are reading the materials; some students are building models of viruses; while some are researching them; some students are reading text materials; and some are working on the lab portion of the project.

Listen to Clara D. '26 describe her experience with a science project following the Grid Method. Along each step of the way, students need to show competency or mastery before moving up to the next level. This method allows students to work at their own pace and get individualized attention from the teacher when they need it. Students who master concepts quickly are able to forge ahead and do independent advanced work, whereas students who need more time are able to take it, within reason. Perhaps surprisingly, this method allows for a lot of personalized learning and one-on-one time with the teacher during class time, in small bursts right when the student is ready for it. Teachers monitor student progress for interventions and provide real-time feedback. It's an engaging way to meet the needs of all the learners in the classroom.  

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I Am Every Good Thing book

“I Am Every Good Thing” by Derrick Barnes, a book full of nourishing words and illustrations, was chosen as the lower school’s all-school read this year.

Written as a poem, "I Am Every Good Thing" encourages young readers to celebrate everything that makes you, YOU. This book affirms that kids can achieve anything they want to achieve and that it's okay for kids to make mistakes. It concludes with a beautiful message at the end:

"I am worthy of success, of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness. And without a shadow of a doubt, I am worthy to be loved." I am worthy of success, of respect, of safety, of kindness, of happiness. And without a shadow of a doubt, I am worthy to be loved.
"I Am Every Good Thing" by Derrick Barnes

On Thursday, October 15, all lower school students were excited to attend a virtual author visit with Barnes. Check out his presentation on the Lower School Library page on RomanNet.

Derrick Barnes author visit

Derrick Barnes, author of "I Am Every Good Thing," joined lower school students for a virtual author visit.

During a workshop over the summer, lower school teachers discussed "I Am Every Good Thing" and what ways the words and images will resonate with their students. They also talked about the concept of windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors in books best described by National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) member Rudine Sims Bishop, "Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created and recreated by the author." Their reflection on this concept included a series of questions:

Who in your class will identify with the characters & storyline? (mirrors)

What will other students learn from the characters & storyline? (windows)

How will this create a deeper understanding of the world? (sliding glass doors)

Classroom activities will include deeper dives into the affirmations in "I Am Every Good Thing," relating to our school year's theme, Nourish.

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Graphic about intersectionality

According to Psychologist Beverly Daniel Tatum, identity is shaped by individual characteristics, family dynamics, historical factors, and social and political contexts. However, the concept of identity can be complex because the answer to “who am I?” largely depends on who the word around me says I am. (For more information on Tatum’s work, please refer to this essay, “The Complexity of Identity: Who Am I?”
Students at Latin begin learning about identity as early as junior kindergarten. In addition to thinking about the question, “who am I?”, young students begin building an understanding of intersectionality, a term used to describe how race, class, gender and other individual characteristics “intersect” with each other.

An exercise that helped prepare Latin’s lower school teachers for working through conversations around identity and intersectionality with students was thinking about this series of questions:

“How do you identify yourself? And͑ what is the most important part of your identity? Is it your sex, your race or ethnicity, your sexual orientation, your class status, your nationality, your religious affiliation, your age, your physical or cognitive abilities, your political beliefs? Is there one part of your identity that stands out from the rest or does your identity change depending on who you’re with, what you’re involved in, where you are in your life?” (SOURCE: Critical Media Project)

In the classroom, students have been working on creating identity maps and writing “I Am” poems and talking about “single stories.” Ask your student about the classroom discussions they are having related to these topics.