Bringing the Classic Novel 'A Christmas Carol' to Life
Posted On:
Saturday, December 16, 2017
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Reading a classic novel can be challenging for teenage students. Although many students may have been exposed to a film adaptation of the novel, when they are faced with reading the actual text, with its complex and antiquated vocabulary, it can be somewhat daunting.  Jennifer Scala, 7th grade English teacher at Baird Middle School, understands first hand this challenge as she takes her students on their journey of reading the play adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

Scala explained that the play is used because it covers several bases in the curriculum, including drama component and character study. “Students have to consider Scrooge's reasons for why he behaves the way he does, they have to think about why people develop the attitudes they do, and then they also can see what motivates people to change,” stated Scala.

“In addition, they will compare/contrast the play to both the original novel and various film versions, and it is a great introduction to Charles Dickens as an author,” continued Scala. “Comparing it to the novel has often lead to many students choosing to read the original on their own. Students also look forward to comparing it to the film version; in years past, most students have been most eager to point out what the movie gets ‘wrong’.

“Reading the play also connects to the speaking/listening standards in the framework,” added Scala. “Students who volunteer to take a role will be practicing their speaking while those who aren't reading are practicing attentive listening to their classmates.”

Much to the surprise of her students, Scala incorporates fun and visual components to her lesson by sharing various props, sound effects and even dressing up as the Ghosts of the Past, Present and Future. She explained that these “extras” often helps strengthen students understanding of the unfamiliar aspects of the novel that was first published in 1843.  

Of the guest appearances Scala stated, “I specifically dress up after the character has already arrived in the play, so that when students first see me, they are able to recognize the character that was previously introduced. I feel that it helps to boost student engagement and interest in the reading of the play.”

"Ms. Scala brings the words of A Christmas Carol to life for her students,” shared Baird Middle School Principal, Stacy Monette. “I love how far she is willing to go in order to grab the attention and excitement of her students for this classic story, and, at the same time address many of the English standards."

Mert Yanbul feels that the visit by the ghosts, along with other props and various sound effects used by Scala, helps him to better visualize and imagine the time period of the play. In general he is enjoying the play, stating, “There is a bunch of comedy in the play and everyday we have a new scene to read, which is exciting.  Right now the action filled scenes are keeping us on the edge of our seats.”

Mercedes Bousquet echoed her classmate, stating, “I think what Ms. Scala is doing is really nice because it helped us get a better visual of what we are reading.  I walk into school everyday not knowing if she is going to be dressed in character or not, and that's the fun part about learning English with Ms. Scala!”

Ms. Scala as the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

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