Silver Lake Fourth Graders Take Flight

pp Instead of snowflakes and dancing sugarplums, the audience of the Silver Lake Elementary fourth-grade winter performance was full of dancing pirates, fairies, and far-off adventures in Neverland.

The entire fourth-grade has worked on a production of Peter Pan Jr., the musical. Since Silver Lake is a dual language school, there were two different casts: one that performed in English, and one that performed in English and Spanish; however, both casts featured native English and Spanish speaking students.

“We wanted as many students as possible to have a lead role,” Whiteside said. “We also wanted to showcase our students abilities to learn a second language and promote our campus goal to have all our students be bilingual, bicultural and biliterate.”

This production was created to be an Experience Design Project to study dramatic literature.

“Experience Design focuses on learning concepts through full experiences,” said assistant principal Nicole Whiteside. “Our instruction is designed around these experiences for students, which helps develop background knowledge. Once the student has this base and background knowledge, we can link this to critical and conceptual thinking. It is the difference between knowing and understanding.”

Teachers introduced the students to the characters and let them decide what parts they wanted to audition for. Students filled out forms that asked about the special skills they might possess for performing or assisting with the technical aspects of the show. If students wanted a lead role in the cast, they had to audition, which involved reading lines, singing individually, and a round of callbacks.

The fourth grade students and teachers hit the stage after just two weeks of rehearsals.  They memorized all their lines, learned choreography, created sets, and learned the structure of dramatic literature.

Fourth-grade teacher Sheri Thompson was thrilled with how the show, and the students came together.  

“We have seen our students grow so much through this process,” Thompson said. “Their confidence, public speaking, problem solving, fluency, language acquisition and collaboration skills have all increased dramatically, all while meeting the state standards and district curriculum.”

See photos from the show here!