Ideas For Teaching Middle Years Drama

Drama is such a fun curriculum subject to teach but for many it can be scary, as it may be out of your ‘comfort zone’. Admittedly I felt this way for several years and tried avoiding it. Then one year, I decided to embrace it and learn how to teach it. If you have the same feeling I had, my advice is to simply give it a go, you will get better each time you teach it.

For my year level I had to: (1) Explore dramatic action, empathy and space in improvisations, playbuilding and scripted drama to develop characters and situations (ACADRM035) (2) Develop skills and techniques of voice and movement to create character, mood and atmosphere and focus dramatic action (ACADRM036) (3) Rehearse and perform devised and scripted drama that develops narrative, drives dramatic tension, and uses dramatic symbol, performance styles and design elements to share community and cultural stories and engage an audience (ACADRM037) . Where was I to begin?

I met with my school’s secondary drama coordinator Tom, and was  advised to locate a range of short plays for my class. This was not an easy start, I read through many plays. Trying to choose plays which are not only suitable but also of an appropriate length for Year 5 students is challenging. My two favourite plays which I found online are One Eye! Two Eye! Three Eyes! by Arron Shepard and The Adventures of Mouse Deer, also by Aaron Shepard. Scripts in this series are free and may be copied, shared, and performed for any noncommercial purpose, except they may not be posted online without permission. I haven’t posted (uploaded them), I have provided you with a direct link to his site and sent a message notifying him of my blog post.

Once I had a range of short plays, I then placed my students in groups. Lets face it, as teachers we need to strategically group our students as some combinations of students is a recipe for disaster 😉 Then I thought I’d allocate students roles, but I was advised against this. A major part of drama is student collaboration, so instead I was advised to allow students to choose their roles. But what happens if two or more students want to play the same role? This was my concern.

My drama coordinator told me that the students could then audition for the role in front of the classroom teacher. This works very well (must admit I was surprised). I allow students to audition in front of myself only, giving each student some positive feedback and then explain why the student who I chose for the role was chosen. Giving student feedback like this, allows them to understand the reason for the teacher’s decision.

Once play scripts have been handed out and roles chosen, then come time for practice. I recommend that you find a large room in the school or an area so that all play groups can practice and you can supervise all. Sending students off to different locations within the school isn’t a good idea, nothing much gets achieved and it allows for the potential of conflict.

I advise groups to rehearse parts of their play in chunks. I usually have a double lesson of drama, students rehearse parts, then we come together as a class and view each groups’ progress. We talk about good elements of their performance and ways they can improve. The most commonly discussed elements are facing the audience, projecting voice, limiting the need for props and being dramatic!

When it come time for students to perform, I make sure that their work is valued as much as possible. I book our school’s drama theatre (if you don’t have one, book an important space) and I invite parents/family/the Principal/other classes to watch (this gives students recognition of their efforts). Below is an assessment rubric which you may like to use.
Drama Rubric Year 5-2n92cyi

There is more to my program than that. Students love warm up drama activities as it allows them to express themselves freely. A colleague of mine, Lisa, put together a range of drama warm up activities which students love. She found them on Pinterest and when you google the name of the activities, multiple sources claim rights to the activities. Therefore, I do not know who to reference/give credit to. Please note that I have acknowledged this, I do not claim these resources as my own, nor does Lisa. The activities below are great for drama warm ups.

Drama Freezes-183wiek
Yes Lets-2304xte
Location Freeze-2mdmux1
Living pictures-yzu7pl
Giants knights wizards-2e4aa1c
Fun at the museum-2dwun4c
Exaggeration circle-1m07bty


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