As September rolls rapidly toward its conclusion (Boy, can you believe how quickly that went by?), we find ourselves looking ahead toward the rest of the school year. Many schools have now made their plans for school assemblies, though many have not yet even begun. Just some thoughts today on strategically planning your school assemblies for maximum benefit in supporting the curriculum.
In the last decade an emphasis on mandated testing has virtually eliminated time for school shows of a strictly entertainment type. Though magicians and rope twirlers are lots of fun, most schools now find they can simply no longer spare the time for school assemblies that are not directly tied to learning standards. Thankfully, there are many fine educational school programs available for doing just this, providing a welcome break from class work while at the same time ushering in demonstrations, and performance values that simply cannot be duplicated in class normally. But timing is everything!
Early in a semester many schools find something revolving around character issues or bullying to be a great kick off, providing a framework of values that can be reinforced throughout the remainder of the year.
As the year progresses, programs that can coincide with specific calendar events are very useful. Just before Halloween is a wonderful time for a visit from a portable planetarium, since it is a given that kids will be spending time outside after dark anyway, and they may just remember to look up and revisit what they learned in the planetarium.
Many schools like something of a patriotic nature to work with Veterans Day. Ben Franklin comes to mind.
Red Ribbon Week is, of course, perfect for anything to do with Drug and Alcohol awareness.
As a general rule, we have found over the years that any time a holiday, long weekend or vacation is coming, the day or two immediately preceding the holiday is a perfect time for an assembly. Approaching time out of class always produces a certain restlessness among students and sadly this is often accompanied by a new lack of concentration. Rather than battle this perfectly natural phenomenon, why not schedule an assembly to which they will pay attention? Just before the Christmas holidays in December proves a great time for almost any kind of assembly! We have had especially good luck with programs like The Magic of Science around the holidays.
After New Years the window is very short before the Martin Luther King birthday is upon us. So January is a perfect time for a visit from Dr King (a surrogate of course!).
Late January and early February coincide with Catholic Schools week. An assembly as part of the celebration of this week makes a lot of sense. Many schools have found the joy in using our Young Authors Day, creative writing program, as part of their week.
Also consider that a lot of schools place special emphasis on reading and writing during February and March which doubly reinforces the value of a writing program during this time, as a way of priming the pump, so to speak. Schools tell us that the energy the students find for writing lasts many weeks after a visit from this super school show!
And then, of course, February is both Presidents Month and Black History Month, so choices abound, from a visit by Abraham Lincoln or George Washington, to a show about Frederick Douglass or some of the famous African American women in our history.
March is a wonderful month for assemblies!
In March we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss, so a Reading program or a visit from another author such as Mark Twain make for a superb centerpiece for a reading based emphasis. Don't forget the role of Ben Franklin in founding the library system!
March is also Women's History Month. They Made a Difference brings in tales of many famous women and flawlessly matches the goal of drawing attention to the accomplishments of the fairer sex (my wife would say the “smarter sex”!).
And of course, March is also when we celebrate Lutheran Schools week, and just as in the case of Parochial schools, the week is somehow not right without some kind of awesome school assembly program!
Which brings us to April. April! Everyone knows what April is, right. April is Earth Month, and what better way to lead up to Earth Day and celebrate an awareness of environmental issues than with The Earth Dome or a show like Our Changing Climate or Animals and the Environment.
And finally, May and June generally have us all heaving a great sigh of relief as mandatory testing comes to an end. With that easing of tension comes a time tailor made for wrapping up the year with something fun! Lights Camera Action!, a show about television production meets this requirement in spades. Kids love TV and in this cool school assembly program the students are the stars! At the end of the day the school receives a souvenir DVD containing an actual television show composed of clips from the day. What better way to memorialize the students last days of the year?
These are just a few ways in which clever schools can use the calendar to promote the curriculum through strategically placed school assemblies. Of course, you will also want to check with your teachers for input, since you don't want, for example, to schedule Sky Dome in October if they study astronomy in February. Still, generally speaking, coordinating programs to correspond with events is a great way to maximize benefits. But don’t delay! The time for securing dates for this Fall is almost over, and we are well into the time when your winter assemblies should be booked. Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln schedules are only offered for limited periods, and fill up quickly.
If you have no yet made your plans, the time to act is now!
Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of science, history, writing, astronomy, natural science, mathematics, character issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN.