Jessica Stafford of Owensboro Middle School was in the middle of rehearsing Hoodie for the KTA middle school festival. She generously shared this “Positive and Negative Post-it Exercise” she used with her cast.
“Students write on post-it notes the negative words they have heard from others about themselves and the negative words they think of when they look in the mirror. They are only allowed one word or phrase per post-it. The post-its are placed on a large piece of orange paper hung on the wall. Students then write positive words they have heard from others or think of when they look in the mirror. These are placed on a large piece of blue paper hung on the wall.”
The purpose of the exercise was to gather words for a specific scene in the play about personal perception, and the assignment raised a variety of reactions.
“The kids loved and hated this assignment at the same time. They found it so incredibly easy to come up with the negative and hateful words but needed prompting from myself and others in order to find the positives. I think they were relieved to see they weren’t the only ones with the same negatives. I promised them I would do my post-its, too. I told them that adults can walk the same walk – positive and negative.”
The exercise was used in a rehearsal setting but it certainly could be adapted to the drama classroom. It’s an exercise that explores how students feel about themselves, how others feel about themselves, and helps establish empathy for others.
- Read the “I see You/You see me” scene with your class.
- Discuss the scene either as a class or in groups.
- What do you think the scene is about?
- Do you think people see you differently than you see yourself?
- Students write on post-it notes the negative words they have heard others say about themselves and the negative words they think of when they look in the mirror.
- Students places their post-its on a large orange sheet hung on the wall.
- Students write on post-it notes the positive words they have heard others say about themselves and think of when they look in the mirror.
- Students place their post-its on a large orange sheet hung on the wall.
- Students review the sheets.
- What words are repeated?
- What words surprise them?
- What words don’t surprise them at all?
- Students write a reflection in their drama journals about what it’s like to see the two sheets side by side. Are they surprised by the words their classmates wrote? How does the exercise make them feel?
- Students pick one word from the positive sheet and one word from the negative sheet.
- Students personify these two words. Turn the positive word and the negative word into characters.
- What would their names be?
- How old would they be?
- What would they look like?
- What would they wear?
- Where would they live?
- How would they interact with their living environment?
- Students write a one page scene between the Positive Word and the Negative Word.
- Students share their scenes.
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