8th Graders Research, Write and Perform Salem Witch Trial Skits
In Social Studies, 8th Graders have been learning about Puritanism, religious extremism and the causes of the Salem witch trials – a study which has been enriched by their reading of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in English class. Leading up to Thanksgiving Break, students engaged in a cross-curricular collaborative project that asked them to draw upon their learning in both subjects as they worked in small groups to research, write and perform skits related to the Salem witch trials.
Before outlining their scenes, each group chose one of the themes that had been discussed in both English and Social Studies – sexism, religion, power and hysteria – to focus on in their skit, and assigned each member a particular role as an actor, director, dramaturge or playwright. Dramaturges conducted primary source research and found historical facts to include in the script; directors blocked the scene and offered suggestions for how to bring out the theme through specific acting choices; playwrights drafted and revised a script based on their group’s outline; and on Tuesday, actors performed the skits for an audience of fellow 8th Graders.
While the subject matter may have been serious, students’ creativity and unique approaches to the assignment made these scenes quite entertaining, and the skits were a fun way to showcase their knowledge of the events of the Salem witch trials – and their causes – before parting for Thanksgiving Break.