The topic that I would like to cover is "Utilizing Drama games and activities in non-performing arts based classes", this would be a mini-course in how drama activities can be used within classes to build supportive and respectful learning environments, as a classroom management tool, increase student engagement, provide variety within instruction to assist with student understanding.
My goal is to help teachers see the benefits that can be gained by, occasionally and when possible, getting their class up on their feet and being active rather than passive learners.
At the completion of this course you will be able to:
- Set up your classroom space for a drama activity.
- Organize your student group for a drama game.
- Recognize instructional opportunities where drama can be used as a teaching strategy.
- Know a variety of drama games that can be used for general instructional purposes.
- Know a variety of drama games that can be used for specific instructional purposes.
- Use techniques from drama to assist in building student engagement.
- Devise drama activities that are specific to your teaching area.
"Drama is highly regarded as an effective and valuable teaching strategy because of its unique ability to engage reflective, constructivist and active learning in the classroom as well as enhancing oral skills development" (Di Pietro, 1987; Via, 1976; Heathcote cited in Wagner, 1976; Mezirow, 1990; Schon, 1991; Donato and McCormick, 1994; Lukinsky, 1990; Miccoli, 2003; Ashton Hay, 2005). However its value is often overlooked as educators do not always have the knowledge, understand the techniques required or often just don't have the confidence in order to organize and facilitate drama activities within their classrooms.
Drama activities can also sometimes be viewed as "soft" where their primary focus is for fun or that drama skills are primarily about "acting" or performance. The facts that drama games have been proven to boost confidence, encourage collaborative skills, increase creative thinking and problem solving all while developing a respectful and supportive classroom culture often go unnoticed.
Teachers should learn how to utilize drama games so that they can be included as an instructional strategy, the activties should be utilized when appropriate to instruction, have validity to the learning, can reinforce curriculum or whenever a teacher believes that their students will benefit from an active learning activity.
What is to be learned?
Students will learn a variety of drama based exercises along with recommendations for their use and suitability within instruction. You will learn techniques for organizing and facilitating activities as well as any additional materials that are required to run the exercises.
This course is designed for educational professionals who teach in grades 7 - 12 and who are looking to expand their current teaching strategies or who wish to bring an active element into their classrooms.
This course will be presented entirely online and so will be open to all online users. Participants will require a computer with a good internet connection. All resources and learning materials will be presented as readings and videos through the course.
Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution
Learners in this course will be introduced to a variety of situations within an instructional environment where the use of drama activities would be a suitable instructional strategy. In each situation participants will be guided through an assortment of drama games that used to reinforce their teaching. For each of these games they will be instructed in how best to set up the learning environment, how to prepare students for the activity, how to explain the activity clearly and then how to lead or mediate it.
The goal of this course is to provide educators with greater confidence and greater understanding of how to implement drama activities within their classrooms and curriculum. It is alsoa goal to provide educators with some straightforward, easily accessible drama activities that can be used in a variety of educational situations to teach a range of topics. Finally it is the goal of this course to provide educators with additional resources where they will be able to find other drama games and will be able to develop their own drama based activities to specifically fit their own instructional needs.
Analysis of the Learner and Context
In evaluating the validity of this mini-course I interviewed and range of teaching proffesionals, specifically focusing on academics teachers, those who I believe did not currently use drama in their classes but who may benefit from having it as an instructional tactic or could build drama activities into their instruction in order to engage their learners.
"Do you currently use drama in your classes?"
"If yes how? If not why not?"
"Could you see drama being an effective learning tool for your students?"
Of the teachers I spoke with only two (both english teachers) currently used drama within their classrooms, they both used scripts and performance in order to teach Shakespeare, "English and Drama tend to go hand in hand." Nathan George, middle-school english teacher, neither used any other drama games though for exploring other concepts or instructional activities.
One teacher of social studies told me that she "did not currently use drama activities." but that it was something she had always wanted to do and was even something that was recommended for social studies but that she had not been "brave enough to attempt."
The biggest surprise for me was the science teachers, I thought that a performance element in their classes was not something that they would find interesting, I was wrong. "Adding a drama element to my class would be an exciting thing to do get the students out of their seats." Brian Gallagher HS Science teacher.
The academic area that proved to be the biggest hurdle was math "I really don't see how drama would fit into a math class...maybe for the younger students." Lauren Freese. This confirmed my suspicions that math would be a challenging area in which to fit a drama actvity, I interpret Lauren's assessment to mean that perhaps K-6 students may find it useful for at high school level there really is no place in the currciulum for it. William Best on the other hand was "intrigued by the idea" going on to say that "there would be a definite challenge integrating the two, but [it would be an idea] I would be willing to explore."
My conclusion of my potential learners therefore is that there is a definite need and interest in learning more about and then utilizing drama activities within a classroom as a teaching strategy.
On completion of this course learners will:
- Set up, lead and manage drama games within their classroom.
- Reflect on the value drama can have as a teaching strategy within an academic classroom.
- Identify opportunities within their classes where drama can be used as a teaching strategy or learning activity.
- Create drama activities that are relevant to and enhance their instruction.
- Create a list of drama activities that they can use in their classes.
- Analyze and evaluate the validity of the drama games.
Access to a group with which to practice the skills being taught. This can be a class, a church group, a youth group or a group of willing (or easily bought) friends. This will be referred to as the "off-line" group.
Module 1: Introduction
By the end of this module you will be able to:
- State how drama games are effective classroom strategy and why using them supports your students needs.
- Set up your class room so that is an effective drama space.
- Comprehend basic techniques for preparing students for drama activities.
- Be able to organize and prepare students for a drama based activity.
- Identify specific needs for organizing students.
Module 2: The Games
Know about a range of drama games used for, Introductory, Focus & Concentration, Confidence & Social Development and Deeper Thinking purposes.
The Units in this module can be taken in any particular order although working chronologically is recommended.
Unit A: Introductory Games for Breaking the Ice
- Know a range of drama games used for introductory purposes and breaking the ice.
- Lead one of the introductory games in their off-line environment.
- Reflect on the response of the learners to the games and its effectiveness.
Unit B: Focus and Concentration Games
- Know a variety of drama games used for focus and concentrative purposes.
- Identify opportunities where these types of games can be utilized in their classroom.
- Brainstorm and list specific curricular needs where they would like to use drama games.
Unit C: Confidence Building and Social Development Games
- Know a variety of drama games used for increasing confidence and social development.
- Set up and lead one of the games in their off-line environment.
- Reflect on the success of a drama game.
- Analyze curricular needs and identify ways in which drama games can fill that need.
Unit D: Deeper Thinking Games
- Lead games in an off-line environment.
- Select a specific curricular need to create a drama game to fill.
- Brainstorm games that can be used to fill that need.
Module 3: Assessment and Evaluation: Adapting Games to fit specific curriculum
- Create a drama game to fill a curricular need identified in Module 2.
- Lead the game created with your offline group.
- Evaluate and analyze the success of the game created.
References and Resources
Ashton-Hay, S. (2005). Drama: Engaging All Learning Styles. Proceedings of 9th INGED (Turkish English Education Association) Conference 'New Horizons ELT'. Ankara Turkey: Economics and Technology University in Ankara, Turkey.
Larson, M. B., & Lockee, B. B. (2014). Streamlined ID: A Practical Guide to Instructional Design. New York: Routledge.
Learner Analysis Interviews/Survey:
William Best, 7-12 Math Teacher
Ken Canfield, 7-12 Technology Teacher
Bradley Craddock, 7-12 ELA and Creative Writing Teacher
Lauren Freese, Middle School Math Teacher
Brian Gallagher, High School Science Teacher
Nathan George, 7-12 English Teacher
Lisa Hoffstetter, 7-12 Social Studies Teacher
Brandes, D., & Phillips, H. (1989). Gamesters' Handbook. London: Hutchinson Education.