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Curriculum Handbook

HomeSchoolLife's Curriculum Junkie Reviews TTT&T's Title Suite: Beware Madame la Guillotine


HomeSchoolLife's Curriculum Junkie Reviews TTT&T's Title Suite: Beware Madame la Guillotine

Two days ago, I woke in a cold sweat with a to-do list as long as my braccio.* We're going full-speed ahead on building the app right now and while I'm thrilled with the results, it's a lot of work. So I wasn't really relishing the idea of taking time from my busy app-building schedule to compose our weekly blog and newsletter.

Then I opened my email. And inside I found a wonderful, truly unexpected surprise...


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3 Surefire Ways to Make. History. Fun.

In last week’s blog post, I summarized the results of our recent conversations with teachers and parents regarding the challenges they face turning teens and tweens on to history. Their comments fell into one of three categories:

Challenge #1:
It isn’t easy for young people to comprehend time in the distant past.

Challenge #2:
The way history is presented can be dry and dull,
which makes it difficult to learn.

Challenge #3:
Young people don’t appreciate how history influences their lives today.


Over at Time Traveler Tours & Tales, we’re building a publishing imprint with the express goal of overcoming these challenges. Our primary mission is to provide a fun way into history. Our operating mantra is:

Make History Relevant. Make History Personal. Make History Real.

This is perhaps best expressed in the latest release from the product suite of our award-winning debut title and case study: the Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook, by Marcie Colleen.

Here’s Marcie on the making of this dramatically-new teacher guide:

My challenge with BMLG began with the question, “how can we get kids who have never traveled to Paris into the environment of the French Revolution?” It reminded me of my experiences as a grad student at NYU where I studied educational theater and used techniques from Process Drama.

Process Drama uses dramatic play to create an imagined world in the classroom…to help kids explore issues and solve problems without ever leaving the classroom. It can be used in the history classroom quite effectively to bring humanity to historical moments.

Marcie’s Curriculum Handbook is a veritable time travel machine. Used in collaboration with my eponymous story, it takes students and teachers by the hand and transports them to the tumultuous streets of the Reign of Terror, making history real. It allows them to view this pivotal historical moment through the eyes of someone who lived it, making history personal. It introduces young people to the roots of democratic society, and compels them to ponder such big-picture questions as, Is violence ever justified?, making history relevant.

Get your FREE copies of both Beware Madame la Guillotine
AND Marcie’s complementary Curriculum Handbook
in exchange for your honest feedback.
Click here.

Let’s make history together!


* * *

Want to know more about the making of the BMLG Curriculum Handbook?
Don’t miss this 14 minute video chat between me and Marcie Colleen.


Turning kids on to history?

Join our community today!

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Turning Kids on to History? Join the TTT&T Community!

Sarah Towle speaks with Marcie Colleen, Curriculum Developer for Time Traveler Tours & Tales, about curriculum writing, Process Drama, and her all-new Curriculum Handbook for Beware Madame la Guillotine.

Coming September 2014, just in time for Back to School, it’s perfect for Social Studies, History, English Language Arts as well as Dramatic Arts classrooms, and an excellent complement to European and World History curricula.

But the fun doesn't stop there.

To test and distribute this dramatically-new teaching and learning tool, Sarah and Marcie are opening the doors to authors and educators worldwide dedicated to turning kids on to history.

Join TTT&T’s Teacher Vanguard today! Get both curriculum guide and book FREE in exchange for your feedback. Become part of an international discussion on immersive teaching practice.

Don't wish to join the Vanguard?
But still want access to the BMLG Curriculum Handbook?

Pre-order your copy at the low introductory rate of just $9.99.
Available for pdf download by 15 Sept 2014.



Process Drama: A Valuable Teaching Tool Bound to Infuse your STEM Classroom with STEAM!

Time Traveler Tours & Tales’ dramatically new Curriculum Handbook for Beware Madame la Guillotine is nearly here! Developed by theater educator and children’s author, Marcie Colleen, our debut Curriculum Handbook uses Process Drama to bring Revolutionary Paris to life within the classroom walls. It is “interactivity” at its very best. And bound to bring your STEM classroom to a roiling boil!

Process drama does not require a dramatic arts teacher. It does not use familiar theater devices, such as scripts, costumes, actors, and stage crew. Rather, it is a creative instructional method that offers teachers and students the experience of an event, a place, or a time period through facilitated improvisation.

According to theater scholar and educator, Cecily O’Neill, process drama begins with “a task to be undertaken, a decision to be made, or a place to be explored.” Working from this prompt, the teacher and students create an imaginary world and work to address the challenges and opportunities of that world through dramatic interpretation.

There is no written script. The “drama” is not presented on a stage. Nor is there need of an audience. The drama is “set” in a classroom. It might extend over the course of an hour, several days, or even weeks. And it involves all students. The drama unfolds at the hands of these student-actor-researchers as they explore and become part of a particular moment, breakthrough, or event in historical time.

With Marcie’s brilliant complement to Beware Madame la Guillotine the interactive tale (available at Amazon and on the iBookstore), students time travel to the French Revolution and bear witness to it first hand. They walk in the shoes of protagonist, Charlotte Corday. They experience the tremendous social and political upheaval of the time through her eyes. They absorb the ins and outs of this dense historical period in an immersive, play-like way. They take it all in and make sense through their 21st century lens. They make history relevant to today.

Process drama can play a powerful role in any classroom, even in science. But it is particularly well matched to language arts, history, and social studies curricula, especially when teaching literary genre, social concepts, or history far removed from students’ own lives. Through improvised dramas, students experience content personally, providing a deeper connection to the material, thus gaining a higher order understanding of the subject being taught. It all turns on empathy.

Process drama is a complex tool, yes, but one that offers teachers depth and breadth across the curriculum. Marcie’s example stands as an excellent illustration that turns an otherwise dense and potentially tedious historical subject for young people into a luminous and textured tale of scandal and passion, intrigue and treachery.

Turning kids on to history?
Join Marcie and me and our growing community of educatiors
at The TTT&T Teacher Vanguard today!

For more information on Process Drama, we recommend this article from Kennedy Center's ArtsEdge.



Just in Time for Back-2-School! Marcie Colleen’s Curriculum Handbook for Beware Madame la Guillotine is Now Available

Today's guest post is by Marcie Colleen, Curriculum Developer for Time Traveler Tours & Tales, who has just completed the first of what we all hope will be a series of Curriculum Handbooks for our future titles suites. With the Beware Madame la Guillotine Curriculum Handbook, Marcie has managed to extract all the juicy goodness from the story, and then make it ever better!
Thank you, Marcie! Now, take it away...

As a Curriculum Writer, I am like a translator: Every project I take on must be uniquely tailored to the nuances and intentions of the originating title. Therefore, when Sarah Towle approached me to create the Curriculum Handbook for Beware Madame La Guillotine, I knew it had to be vibrant as her interactive tale. But more than that, it had also to be connected to the heart and mission of her developing digital publishing company, Time Traveler Tours & Tales.

The interactive StoryApp Tour of Beware Madame La Guillotine brings to life, through narrative storytelling and extension games, the streets of Paris during the French Revolution. By compelling family and educational travelers to follow in the footsteps of the story’s protagonist—to literally stand on the very ground she stood upon—the interactive StoryApp washes away the modern day and reveals the world of the Revolution for its reader/users. History enthusiasts need only figure out how to travel to Paris; Sarah’s brilliant StoryApp completes their journey by taking them back in time.

The challenge for me was to apply this same concept, heart, and mission to make the French Revolution come alive within the classroom walls. So, just as Sarah’s interactive StoryApp brings the streets of late-18th century Paris to life through dramatic storytelling, I resolved that the Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook would bring the classroom to life through the dramatic recreation of Revolutionary Paris. The only travel necessary would be through imagination and historic exploration.

It was then time to lay a solid foundation onto which teachers and students could create an enriching, full sensory classroom experience to complement either the interactive or print versions of Beware Madame La Guillotine. To do so, I focused on the following elements:

Narrative Thread. Every good story has a hook. And every good lesson plan does, too. The Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook is designed to pose compelling questions to keep students’ curiosity piqued; to keep them wanting to know more and to discover what will happen next. This is done not through the delivery of facts and statistics as in a traditional approach to education. But instead, by first introducing themes, then deepening their complexity, then inviting students to research the facts and figures themselves.

In Session One, for example, students meet Charlotte Corday, the story’s main character, as a typical young French woman of the late 18th century. They then learn that she was condemned to death by beheading. They are left wondering why. They want to know how a well-educated convent-school girl came to murder a man and thus become a central figure in the unfolding Revolution. Their intrigue leads students on an intrinsically motivated exploration of the life and times of Charlotte Corday, not because they will be tested on the subject, but because they are hooked. 

The Five Senses. Every traveler knows that when experiencing a new location all five senses are on alert, soaking up the novel atmosphere. Simulating this reality in the classroom required some creativity. To do so, I drew on lessons from Process Drama to engage students using hands-on, sensory-based techniques to build the world of the French Revolution in their classroom. In this world, students are transported through imaginative play to explore issues and solve problems within the story’s context, thus gaining a greater understanding of the historical period, its people, and issues. Supplemental reading, writing, and research investigations broaden the scope of learning while also adding to the work within the drama.

For a wonderful introduction to Process Drama, I highly recommend The Kennedy Center ArtsEdge article: Process Drama: Taking a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes. Many of the aspects discussed within this article can be found within the Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook.

Cross-Curricular Exploration. Educators around the globe recognize that learning and retention are deepened when students explore a topic or theme from multiple perspectives. In the US, the Common Core State Standards, for example, have students reading and writing in all subject areas…not just in the English Language Arts. At the Middle and High School levels there is a pull away from the reliance on textbooks and a shift toward using primary sources as well as compelling narrative non-fiction.

The Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook utilizes Sarah Towle’s captivating interpretation of Charlotte’s story as a jumping off point for further research, making it suitable for English, Social Studies, History, Drama, and even French classrooms. The Handbook also lends itself to cooperative inter-disciplinary teaching. Such curricular crossover makes for increased learning time, allowing students to become further saturated in the historical period while studying it through various lenses and from multiple angles.

Building Better Citizens. State-of-the-art teaching methodologies seek to reflect the way the world works, to point out that life is seldom black or white, but contains many shades of gray. Throughout history, as today, choices have been debated, sometimes fought over. Decisions have made that are not always agreed upon. There is rarely a right or wrong answer. The sooner students are taught how to function in such a landscape, the better they are for it.

The Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook is developed to help students think beyond a single point of view. By playing multiple roles, they walk in the shoes of others and thus develop empathy and a broader worldview. This builds space for reflection and self-investigation, while also providing the framework in which conflicting opinions may be safely shared. As visitors to another time period, it is not our job to bring judgment. Charlotte’s sentence has already come to pass. But with the Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook, students become more than mere observers of history: they become active participants, invited to form rich and honest opinions that may even find application in the world today. 

Needless to say, I am proud of Beware Madame La Guillotine Curriculum Handbook. I am excited that teachers around the globe now have the opportunity to share the gripping story of Charlotte Corday and the French Revolution with their students in a way that promotes collaboration, participation, investigation, and self-reflection. I am also incredibly honored to be a part of Team TTT&T, and I look forward to creating similar Curriculum Handbooks for future titles.

Please check out my Curriculum Handbook and the eponymous title by Sarah Towle. You don’t need a passport or luggage for this adventure, but beware—imagination can be so vivid, you may lose your head!

Interested in obtaining a FREE copy of both Marcie’s Handbook
and Sarah’s interactive or print book
in exchange for your honest feedback?
Join the TTT&T Teacher Vanguard today.
Contact us here for details.