Who has time for drama?
I have so much stuff I need to teach that I can’t afford to spend time letting the kids act out goofy little skits.
Have you heard these excuses before? Have you used them yourself?
I know that classroom teachers have a huge responsibility and that principals and school boards often focus on literacy and numeracy, so much so that the arts often get little or no attention at all. This really is a shame.
I must admit that I don’t find a lot of time for drama in my classroom. I’m sure I could do a lot more. However, I don’t just use the Christmas concert as my sole drama activity like some of the other teachers I know.
I typically use three Drama activities each year, one per term. I will cover these strategies in more detail starting next week for Teaching Tip Tuesdays. I have a great rubric that I use to assess all three of these activities and you will find it below.
In the first term, I do a unit on poetry. I teach the students how to use tone of voice, action, and props to present the poem dramatically in front of the class. This is a great assignment since I can use it for an Oral and Visual Communication mark as well as a Drama mark.
In the second term, I let the students work in partners or groups of three. I let them choose a comic strip from the newspaper to act out. They need to rehearse their performance and memorize their lines. Comic strips are great since they already are visual and don’t have a lot of dialogue. This allows the students a quick and easy skit to act out. They are funny as well which always helps.
In the third term, I work with small groups and guide them into cooperatively writing a radio play. This is much like Reader’s Theatre but since the students have a hand in creating the characters and the story, they are much more interested in it.
These aren’t the only things I do in the classroom for drama. I sometimes have the kids act out science concepts, social studies events, and health and safety situations. The students really respond well to drama activities.
Of all the drama activities I do in the classroom, I only need one assessment tool. I developed this rubric by taking bits and pieces of other rubrics that I liked and mashing them together. The book Drama Themes, which I highly recommend by the way, originally inspired me to create this rubric.
You will notice that there are a lot of things you can look at when assessing a work of drama; practise, use of voice, setting, action, comedy, role development, role portrayal, and the overall performance.
I wouldn’t try to assess all of these things at one time. I might only look at three things for a primary class. I tell my students that I will be looking for a good tone of voice, that they use some actions, and I will also be looking at how well them work in their groups.
I really like using this rubric and I hope it will help you in bringing drama into your classroom. If you have any questions, comments, or tips you’d like to share, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you.
Don’t forget to check all the other great Teaching Tips as well.
Teachers helping teachers is what it’s all about.