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Drama in the Elementary School Classroom. Rosalind Worcester ED 616 Dec 2013. Why to incorporate drama: Eleven Great Reasons.

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drama in the elementary school classroom

Drama in the Elementary School Classroom

Rosalind Worcester

ED 616

Dec 2013

why to incorporate drama eleven great reasons
Why to incorporate drama:Eleven Great Reasons
  • 1. Teaches to Content standards in Art (although not included in Alaskan Common Core, the federal government includes drama/theatre as one of the 4 arts of the “core” curriculum for all American students
  • 2. Universal Form of human expression (helps students learn different roles, practice observation and imitation, learn how to express and understand emotions)
  • 3. Develops the imagination (increasing engagement, interpretation, creativity, problem solving, etc.)
  • 4. Teaches to Multiple Intelligences (particularly Gardner’s Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Linguistic, and Intrapersonal)
  • 5. Multi-sensory mode of learning (experiential and engaging kind of learning! “Pretending” triggers memories and experiences which increase student engagement
  • 6. Reaches students struggling in “traditional” classrooms (there is a place for all ability levels in drama, from language to behavioral barriers)
why to incorporate drama eleven great reasons1
Why to incorporate drama:Eleven Great Reasons
  • 7. Provides long-term benefits that spill over into school and life (the development of skills like interpersonal awareness and, collaboration, public speaking, self-confidence, etc. is valuable)
  • 8. Promotes Literacy and Language Arts (LA has four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening, all three of which can be exercised through a variety of drama and theatre activities)
  • 9. A way to learn through play (rather than rote memorization or drills) and stimulate student learning on many levels at once in addition to being fun and a healthy outlet for emotions
  • 10. Great outlet for Gifted and Talented students (extension projects utilizing drama are engaging and motivating for many gifted students and improv is also a great outlet for quick thinkers)
  • 11. Practical advantages: drama can be played/accessed in multiple areas, is adaptable to different lessons and easy to differentiate for student readiness, is universally accessible, can be repeated due to the “enjoyment” level of students, and is inexpensive.
drama activities for kinesthetic learners
Drama Activities for Kinesthetic Learners
  • Movement is a great way to get students engaged in material, especially if they are sleepy or particularly unengaged (don’t be afraid to flexibly jump into movement/drama activities!)
  • Use movement, dance and acting out to help teach Language Arts (verbs, prepositions, nouns)
  • Use movement to help students understand a challenging concept, as in the “teaching channel video” where the teacher helps students in a science class understand the movement of molecules by utilizing dance
drama activities for reading
Drama Activities for Reading
  • Aaron Shepard and Reader’s Theatre
      • http://www.aaronshep.com/rt/RTE.html
      • Free scripts for children of all ages, but primarily focused on ages 8-15.
      • These scripts are amazing because they also help introduce common core standards from reading and social studies standards
      • Each script is based on a book that could be read to the class or independently read by students
      • Scripts range from: introducing different genres (fables, tall tales, etc.), being in different settings (countries or regions), taking place in different historical settings, as well as introducing religions, mythologies and holidays.
  • MAKE YOUR OWN: in all of your “spare time” as a teacher, make your own Reader’s Theater for the material you want your students to cover more in-depth
  • Give students opportunities to read more challenging plays or primary sources than those based in children’s books
  • Allows students to make deeper connections between their reading and the characters, setting and conflict in the story
making scripts for class performances dialogues or movies


Making scripts for class performances, dialogues or movies
  • Script writing meets many common core standards in writing and reading (as students will also need to be able to read their scripts)
  • This skill can be utilized to practice dialogue, vocabulary, spelling, and pronunciation as well as teaching students to creatively draft and consolidate ideas from interdisciplinary subjects
history setting the stage with historical context
History: Setting the Stage with Historical Context
  • History is also a perfect activity to adapt to Drama
  • Allows students to engage with the material individually and make it more relatable and relevant.
  • Can be used in the form of visualization, acting out great moments in history, setting the scene in a historical context, and role playing or making monologues for famous figure (to name just a few ideas)
social emotional learning
Social Emotional Learning
  • Central to SEL development is often role playing! Which allows students to learn how to identify, model and practice SEL skills, such as problem solving, expressing emotions.
  • Easy to incorporate this kind of role-playing flexibly when a problem does arise (teachable moments)
  • In these endeavors students can utilize SEL scripts, but can also develop their own dramas.
  • The teacher can guide role playing by giving students roles, a conflict, a setting, providing or asking students to make props, and have a “stage” and viewing area.
  • Gives students a HEALTHY outlet for emotions and for emotional processing.
drama as sel for autistic children
Drama as SEL for Autistic Children
  • Autistic children, in particular, can very much benefit from SEL through theatre as it provides strong opportunities to practice:
    • emotion and expression identification
    • Interpersonal skills
    • Use of creativity
    • Public speaking in an appropriate context
    • Role playing appropriate behaviors
activities lesson plans games
Activities, Lesson Plans, Games
  • SO MANY RESOURCES, many of which can be incorporated into inter-disciplinary lessons
  • Improv
  • Poetry
  • Dance
  • Games
  • Role-playing
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation