At our school, we gender group in the seventh grade, and nearly 100 seventh grade boys walk into my door daily. It would be a lie if I told you teaching a class of twenty-eight thirteen-year-old boys were a breeze, but it does have its benefits, one being the love they have of a good monster story.
We recently completed the reading of Rod Sterling’s The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, which was a big hit with the seventh grade boys of WMS. Before we began the play, we made predictions and discussed some terms with which they could possibly be unfamiliar. Before I assigned the roles, we disused the genre of drama and the specific elements of a teleplay. Assigning rolls to an all boy class was an adventure. You can imagine the comments when Sally, woman next door, and Less Goodman’s wife were “cast”. However, I actually enjoyed the guys raising their voices a few octaves as they portrayied the ladies in the play.
Now, those of you familiar with this play, know that the kids can get very confused as to who the monsters are in this thing! And, although theme is a concept seventh graders are familiar with and this drama has a stated theme, I knew that I had to create close reading questions to ensure our kids “got it”.
After we completed the play and the close reading, we viewed the actual Twilight Zone episode (The Twilight Zone – Original Series – Netflix – Season 1 – episode 22). Now, I can’t tell you how surprised I was to hear Tillman comment (out loud no less!) “Ms. Sutherland, they are saying the exact words we did when we read it in class!” Imagine my disappointment – I was SO confident they had all taken in every word I uttered during our pre-reading discussion of just what exactly a teleplay was. Well, this is just one more example of how important it is for boys to hear it AND experience it! SO, if you have not used Rod Sterling’s The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street teleplay with your seventh graders, you should. Plus, it is a great way to work in the CCSS viewing standard thanks to Netflix!
Thanks for reading!