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Wood Middle School teacher publishes three volumes of historic plays

There’s a new playwright in Wilsonville. However, unless you’re a middle school student, you probably won’t be seeing his work onstage.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: KATE HOOTS - Charlie Boone, a sixth-grade teacher at Inza Wood Middle School, uses plays - including his own recently published collection - as a teaching tool.Charlie Boone is a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Inza Wood Middle School and the author of a recently published book of plays, “Acting History.” It’s the first in a three-volume set that will cover American history from the colonial era to modern times.

There are six plays in each volume and each play has about a 20-person cast list and comes with a vocabulary list, seven or so short-answer questions and a few essay questions. They also come with a sense of humor that keeps kids interested.

“The plays are historically accurate,” Boone said. “They tend to be silly. I try to make it fun for middle schoolers.”

For example, each play uses some modern language, humor or slang. Characters often make jokes that the actual historical figures probably wouldn’t have made. Boone’s play about the Alamo includes famous figures such as Davy Crockett and James Bowie and a couple lesser known but no less important players, such as William Travis.

“(Travis) is the leader, but no one knows his name,” Boone said. So, as he wrote the play, he included sly references to that fact, giving the character the chance to mention his name at every opportunity.

The character of Travis isn’t the only one to have fun with his name. Though he’s usually referred to as simply Santa Ana, the Mexican general who attacked the Alamo Mission had a much longer full name: Antonio de Padua Maria Severino Lopez de Santa Ana y Perez de Lebron.

“Santa Ana mentions his full name every chance he gets” in the play, Boone said.

Each play was field tested by one of Boone’s classes, and those tests sometimes revealed that Boone had included a little too much humor. He made some vital revisions based on what he learned as students worked through each play. One scene that got the ax involved students riding on each other like horses; it proved to be far too disruptive.

“They thought that was way too funny,” Boone said.

Boone already has a history of using plays at teaching tools.

“Charlie has always written material for his classes, including plays that dramatize events, people and important concepts in history,” said Wood Principal Barb Soisson. “Charlie has students analyze the drama, and this leads to some engaging discussions and thoughtful writing.”

Boone has asked his students to turn playwright, too.

“I always had them make up plays. They would love the process but the product wasn’t always quality,” he said. “I wrote one for them and they loved it.”

Boone put a few of his plays on a website called Teachers Pay Teachers, offering them for sale to fellow educators.

“The plays were doing well,” he said.

So he sent a proposal out to publishers, and included some of the positive comments users had left for him online.

To his surprise, he quickly connected with a publisher, Social Studies School Service, which wanted not one but three volumes of plays. Boone spent his summer writing, and the first volume came out this fall.

“It was fun work, but time-consuming,” he said.

The pressure is off Boone now that the first volume is published and the other two manuscripts have been submitted. Now he’s thinking about his next project.

“I’ve really liked writing,” Boone said. “Now I have an ‘in’ (with a publisher), I’m hoping to write a book a summer.”

Although he’s interested in writing more plays for students, he’s thinking beyond the stage.

“I’ve got some other ideas I’m going to run by them,” he said.

Although the plays are meant for teachers, anyone can buy a copy through the publisher’s website. Go to socialstudies.com for more information.

Kate Hoots can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 112. Follow her on Twitter @CommuniKater.

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