Teaching Tip – A Great Drama Rubric

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.

12 responses to “Teaching Tip – A Great Drama Rubric”

  1. Great Rubric! Thanks – – plan on using it for a 7th grade one-act interpretation of biogeochemical cycles…

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    I'm glad you like it and plan to use it.

    If you have any teaching tips you'd like to share, please send them my way. I'd love for you to write a post about what you do in your classroom.


  3. Hi Chase,
    I'm teaching a lot of planning time coverage again this year which means I teach drama once a week for half the school year. Needless to say I am running out of ideas so I was excited to stumble upon your rubric here. I'm going to try out your comic strip lesson plan with my grade 3/4 group.
    Keep up the great ideas!

  4. Hi Amber,

    I have an older drama curriculum based on picture books. It's called "Treasure Chest." It's a great resource that you probably won't be able to find.

    I'll see if I can digitize it and post it here in an upcoming Teaching Tip Tuesday.

    Happy Teaching!

  5. Hi, this is my first year teaching elementary drama K-5. Is am more used to middle and high school. I have been struggling with the younger grades especially two very unruly second grades and K. I use finger puppets, bag puppets, reenact fairytales, and music movement, but I am running out of ideas! I love teaching drama but I am concerned about assessments, standards and how to show objective during evaluations with Kindergarden. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated. The kids seem to like it but sometimes think its play.

  6. Hi Kat,

    I am in the opposite position. I’m teaching intermediate this year and all of my experience has been primary / junior. Didn’t think it would be such a big difference, but it is.

    I understand your concerns. I just sent you an email and will try to draft a post addressing these topics.

    Thank you for the comment!

  7. Great rubric. Hits on many of the essential comments that are required in drama performances. I will use with performance in my Multicultural Literature class.

  8. I just loved your rubric. Your rubric has even reached deep down into Africa and I will be using it to assess my drama performances for my Grade 8 Creative Arts class. Thank you!

  9. Hi Jenny,

    So glad I could help. If you need anything else or would like to share what you are doing in your class, please don’t hesitate to contact me.