It is the start of another school year, and things certainly feel a lot different than they have in the past. With all of the events surrounding COVID19, Black Lives Matter, and the upcoming elections, opportunities for students to truly express their opinions has been challenging. Many have felt like they have lost their voice behind the screens of online learning, or so they thought. Orlando Family Stage wanted to empower not only students, but teachers with a workshop that could tackle some of these issues, while also offering space for creative expression. This idea is what sparked this school year’s first professional development workshop in Orlando REP’s Engaged Learning Through the Arts (ELTA). 

Since 2012, Orlando Family Stage has partnered with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) to provide hundreds of teachers with professional development workshops and training through the ELTA program. This program assists teachers in integrating the arts into their daily classroom curriculum. Over the years, Orlando Family Stage has tailored many of its workshops to fit the needs within the community, and this particular year is no exception. 

 The desire to tackle larger topics, such as voting, while also allowing students multiple opportunities for artistic expression is what drove Orlando Family Stage to provide “Digital Storytelling: Collaboration, Literacy, and Poetry in the Classroom” as its first ELTA workshop. Through digital storytelling,  students have the ability to create personal narratives using images, sounds, and text in short videos. Participating teachers in this workshop learned how to deconstruct big ideas and themes to allow students to retell it in multiple and collaborative creative and artistic mediums. 

This workshop instructed teachers how to use several strategies and activities. Some of them included digital self portraits, where students compose their own image as it relates to a given caption. Another is tableau, where students physicalize their understanding in response to a given question. 


Cinquain poetry with found objects was also used, and that is where students create their own poetry using elements of design to enhance the sensory experience. These are just a few of the activities introduced throughout the workshop. 

The unique mix of theatre and technology made this workshop very unique, and finding the right instructor was key. Orlando Family Stage knew immediately that Bianca Alamo would be the perfect fit. Alamo is currently a theatre teacher at Meadow Woods Middle School and is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Theatre in Young Audiences Program, which is in partnership with Orlando REP.  She spent years expanding her knowledge while doing her assistantship as a graduate student at Orlando REP. Alamo’s training,  knowledge, and experience in both theatre and technology made her the perfect candidate to lead this workshop. Alamo was not able to only create a workshop that could be used both in-person and online, but she also managed to create ready-to-go modules so teachers could easily access them from their teaching portals and implement them immediately. 

The best part of this workshop were all of the connections that teachers were immediately able to make and adjust for their own classrooms and curriculum. This workshop also connected beautifully with Orlando REP’s current show, Vote? This is Orlando REP’s first online show, which explores voting rights throughout American history. Between the workshop and access to this online show, participating teachers were given incredible resources that could be implemented in either online, in-person, or hybrid classes right away.

Orlando Family Stage is thrilled to be able to continue to provide professional development and online field trip opportunities to teachers and students throughout Central Florida.


Want to take advantage of these teaching tools and learn more?  Check out our teacher professional development opportunities in arts integration or our current show, Vote?




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