Why is drama good for the students . . .
and for you?
Drama in the primary and middle school
Most schools and teachers acknowledge the value of drama in their classroom, as well as seeing the pleasure and sometimes the deep learning value it can provide for their children. There are some teachers who teach drama regularly, and some who use drama and dramatic play instinctively as part of their teaching repertoire -- especially in the early childhood years. Most teachers value the occasional school visits from a theatre-in-education team, and admire the performance skills of the actors and the immediate impact the performance has on the children. Often however, teachers feel unable to build on the experience, either because they feel they don't have the team's theatrical skills or they have not been given the planning and management skills. Very few primary teachers have been fortunate enough to receive sufficient drama in their own education and tertiary training to be confident teaching drama and maximising its potential across the curriculum.
Yet drama can fit painlessly into an overcrowded timetable, and it will give new life to the classroom, controllably extending teachers' practice beyond the bounds of a 'normal' classroom. Consider these reasons for finding time to do drama.
► Drama and theatre comprise one of the world's great art forms, and for that reason alone drama is worth doing.
► Drama offers children a way of knowing that is not replicated elsewhere in the curriculum.
► Drama is based on that most natural of learning mediums, children's own play, and for that reason too it is worth bringing to your aid -- classroom drama is very closely based on children's play.
► Drama is a valuable part of the curriculum and in most Australian states a major strand in The Arts Key Learning Area.
► Because drama deals with the world of human experience, it is also among the most natural and effective means of integrating the Key Learning Areas in the school curriculum.
► Because drama is experiential, it provides realistic and purposeful experiences for the children.
► Children love doing drama.
Teachers will find lots more reasons for doing drama in the pages of this book.
This book is intended to provide you with ownership, confidence and the skills to teach drama. It is organised into three sections.
Section A, 'How to teach drama', is in two parts:
► Part 1, 'The basics of drama teaching', gives a rationale for drama and drama teaching in the primary classroom, and a conceptual background of the teaching structures and strategies of drama education -- 'the whys and wherefores'.
► Part 2, 'Setting up your drama work', is a thorough and practical 'how-to' section, which details the dramatic technigues and approaches you can use, with extensive help on planning and assessing your drama, as well as thoroughly discussing all the classroom management issues.
Section B, 'Some dramas to teach: Exemplars', consists of eight exemplars of extended drama work, devised over four levels, covering all the pre-school and primary years and leading into lower secondary. The contexts for these dramas are drawn from a wide range of fields of learning. They are designed simultaneously to:
► develop the students' skills within the art form (in drama);
► teach them about drama; and
► work towards outcomes in almost all Key Learning Areas (through drama).
They incorporate a comprehensive range of drama techniques, put together into coherent teaching structures. The drama techniques illustrated here are applicable, with fine tuning, to any subject at any level.
These drama exemplars can be followed closely by the most inexperienced drama teacher, and form templates for the more confident and experienced.
Section C consists of two useful accessories:
► a comprehensive Guide and glossary to the drama techniques and terms used in the book, explained in detail where necessary; and
► a list of useful resources.