Saturday, 15 April 2017

Drama For Learning

For those that know me, you will be well aware that I am a massive fan of Mantle of the Expert.  Part of this approach is a drama for learning component that I have been wanting to explore further as a separate component this year rather than part of a full blown Mantle (other than Number Agents of course.)

Drama is so incredibly powerful and along with play it allows children to explore various contexts and perspectives.  You do not need to be a 'drama' teacher to use drama for learning as an approach.  Basically one idea can be explored for a short time, or expanded into a longer time.  It is all up to you.  There are loads of conventions that can be used...but not knowing these does not need to hold you back.

Children fall naturally into drama and will engage at their various comfort zone.  Invite them in and watch the magic happen.  There is no pressure on children, but the strategies used are non-threatening and I find that even the most shy children begin engaging beyond where you would expect them to.

This year I want to work on my own use and knowledge of conventions and techniques...I seem to stick within the ways of working that I know, so I really want to expand my repertoire.  This will really benefit my teaching within Mantle of the Expert.

This is a great starting point.

In order to build up my abilities and scope I plan to use picture books or current events to explore with children.  I have yet to decide if one of these may expand into a full blown Mantle (using our already established company of Number Agents, but tapping into a different division of this company)

We carried out our first drama for learning activity last week based on this book:

This book is based on this story:

In short three cows are stuck on a small piece of earth following an earthquake.

We started out by reading the story, we read it up until the moment that you see the cows stuck on the hill.

We then posed children as the cows, in groups of three.   They first created a static image of the three cows standing on the hill, attempting to show through body language how they may be feeling.

We stopped to talk about how the cows were feeling and how.

We then moved into making a soundscape.  Half of the groups had to make the noise the cows would have made and half made the sound of the earthquake.  This is like a wave of sound, starting off with one group, then two, then three and so on until all groups are making their sound.

This allowed us to really explore how it may have felt for the cows.

We then moved into making a freeze frame.  Using narration we 'acted' out how it must have been while the earthquake was going on.  Then children froze into their freeze frame.  When I tapped them on the shoulder they were able to speak about how they were feeling.

We then asked children to talk in their groups about how they planned to get down.  They acted this out and spoke about it through freeze frame.

Following this we finished reading the story.  We didn't have time to watch actual footage unfortunately but this would have been an awesome follow up.

This could easily have been expanded on...exploring the perspectives of the farmer, helicopter pilot, exploring perspectives of other people affected by the earthquake, using time to fast forward and rewind and explore what was happening before/after.  Really something like this could be explored over a week or more.

Stepping out of the drama this obviously would fit incredibly well with learning around natural disasters and the role people play in the rescue.   A full blown Mantle would flow incredibly well out of this learning...this story would make an incredibly nice hook.

This was an excellent start, children were very engaged in the process and got a lot out of it.  I can not wait to continue using drama for learning next term.

If I have time I may write up some plans based on what works so others can have a go :)

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