Writing in Stereo

Writing in Stereo header image 1

Writing In Stereo I

When then drama teacher Douglas Potter published the original Writing In Stereo online in the early 1990s, his primary interest was radio dramatics as a tool to enhance English teaching.  Here's most of the introduction to that volume.

Today national business and media leaders call for dramatic changes in the ways students learn in our classrooms. Columnists call for creative thinking, greater faculty involvement, and an openness to innovation.

More than ever we have a responsibility to find ways to bring energy and excitement to our classrooms. WRITING IN STEREO is a fine first step. WRITING IN STEREO is a program of supplementary activities. Its tools are broadcast journalism and radio dramatics. In it students collaborate in the writing and recording of dramatic adaptations of fairy tales, original narratives, short stories, chapters of novels, scenes from modern dramas, poetry, and Shakespeare. Individually, they write and record broadcast style news stories on the daily announcements, community issues and marketing (participating in  new simulations, "Special Interest" and “Memo Ex,” included in this volume), instructional programs for expository writing, commentaries for essays of opinion, and review programs for book reports.

This program's impact is multi-dimensional. It affects reading, writing, speaking, and listening in a variety of processes. Learning and teaching strategies are enhanced as students and teachers walk through classic and contemporary literature. Together they explore the news and issues of the world around them. In a new classroom simulation students speak, negotiate, and interview each other as they seek solutions to community problems. They enhance other traditional writing assignments by use of sound writing and recording--all while collaborating on original work for a rediscovered medium.

Students exceed comprehension of literature and are compelled to true engagement. Having mastered the simple rules of radio dramatic writing through fairy tale adaptations, they must address the short story's structure, disassemble it, add dialogue elements for expository passages and narration, and reassemble the work. The analysis and synthesis required obliges the student to become something of an authority on the work selected for adaptation. In the recording process that follows, the student must further consider the characterization of one or more antagonists to adequately convey the characters' motivations in the performance of the script. The same can be said of the novel, modern drama, poetry, and to a lesser extent, Shakespeare. Broadcast journalism, employing a brief, straightforward, conversational writing style for the ear, offers teachers a venue for instruction in primary research concepts, an opportunity for non-threatening speaking opportunities, and a means for insuring that students discover many of their own careless writing mistakes long before they appear in a final draft. In the broadcast style writing unit, students improve listening skills in interview practice--skills that come in handy when recording their own news programs and in the original "Special Interest" classroom simulation, developed to allow interview practice in the sheltered classroom environment. Having practiced their skills rewriting and recording the school's daily announcements, students have the capability to actually write and air a morning school news program using the original announcements as press releases.

The original Writing In Stereo table of contents details the depth and breadth of this unique program.  You can find the actual text of this book here in the blog!  In the Archives column at the right, click on March, 2010.  You'll find yourself near the beginning.  Just scroll down the page to the introductory blog entry and get started!

Unit Objectives, Lesson Plans, and Notes