Monday, February 16, 2015

The Value of Using Drama in the Classroom

Students perform skits they prepared in class.
As one who has read my blog probably knows, I love to utilize drama in my classroom.  Admittedly, being a social studies teacher provides me many opportunities for this. And the more and more I use it, the more I am convinced of its value in instruction. Today, rather than share how I use it or ways to use drama, I'd rather focus on the why I use it.

1. Drama increases student engagement. When students have to perform, they have to be involved. If done properly, drama as instruction (or yes, even assessment), students must participate. One reason I value drama as a teaching technique is that it takes the focus off of me as the teacher and places it firmly on the students. Whether formally or informally, they will be on stage and will have to be actively involved in the content.

2. Drama gives opportunities for students to develop their creativity. Too often education today has become standardized. Students take standardized tests. Students are asked to do the same activity, at the same time as everyone else, in the same way. Drama lets me break that mold. Students may have to decide how something is performed, or maybe they have to write a script. They may be adapting a historical event or retelling it in a new way. Regardless, they have opportunities to be creative.

Students collaborate on a the text of a skit.
3. Drama allows students to travel down multiple pathways of learning. Extra-personal learners enjoy the interaction as skits are developed. Kinesthetic learners get to move around. Artistic learners will help create props. Verbal learners will find creative means of writing and creating dialogue. Everyone gets a chance to add. Even when it isn't required, students may add music or dance to a performance. It is always fun to see how it plays out. When I ask my student to "act it out", I am always a bit amazed at the outcomes. And drama often gives them a chance to synthesize what I'm trying to teach with what they enjoy.

4. Drama increases what students know. When they have to act it out, they remember. It allows points of reference for the teacher to use later. They are not always going to watch what I show them, read it closely from the text, or listen to what I say. But if they have to perform an event, they will learn about it in a way I could never make them, and their classmates will watch and listen to the performances in ways they would never watch and listen to me. So, drama is a win-win all around.

5. Drama makes learning fun. Some of the best moments in my class have been watching the humor come out during a performance. The smiles the students have when they leave class after the use of drama let me know its value. My goal in teaching is not to have everyone like my class or be fun all the time, but if I can get students to learn and keep it fun at the same time, is not that a worthy goal!

Students perform a teacher-created script
to aid learning.
There are so many ways to utilize drama. It can be a week-long process or something as simple as dividing the class into groups and giving them a short time to create a reinactment. Lessons can be as structured as one would like. Sometimes students are given an exact script to work from, sometimes a topic with a well-developed rubric, and other times just a simple sentence telling them what to do. Those decisions depend a lot on your students, the time, or your overall goal. Regardless of the how, drama has many benefits to students.
Students perform a recreation of the painting "Signing the U.S. Constitution" using a technique called tableau.

No comments:

Post a Comment