Teaching Character Education

teaching character education

We all like lists.  Everyone is familiar with "top 10" lists, so we thought we'd put one together.  Here you go: Top 10 reasons why drama or theater works for teaching character education:

  1. Establishes a sense of safety.  Young people need a place to experience how the actions of one person might affect the reactions of another person.

  2. Transmits societal values.  Societies survive and thrive by transmitting its values to the present and next generations.  Through plays and stories of people past and present, we transmit the way humans should shape their lives.  Through viewing plays, students see the actions of humans carried out.  Through performance students experience the moments.

  3. Teaches moral lessons through story.  If little time is spent at home in the teaching of moral behavior, drama in the classroom provides the students with an opportunity to experience lessons captured in stories.

  4. Presents universal moral and ethical themes.  Through the enacted stories of people past and present, educators can pave a universal avenue to themes that support ethical and moral choices.  Providing clear dramatic examples, lived through dramatic enactment, set a standard for young people even in our value conflicted society.

  5. Allows students to practice making ethical choices in adult guided situations.  To sustain a democracy, people need to make good moral and ethical choices.  Young people need to practice and discuss these choices in adult guided situations.

  6. Enacting stories has a greater impact than merely reading.  No story is free from communicating values, ethical decisions, or showing moral living.  When the stories are enacted, they have a greater impact because the students are active in problem solving, relating situations to their own lives, and walking for a moment in the shoes of someone else – seeing the world from a different perspective.

  7. The great stories and the great dramas are based on these essential ethical questions: “How shall I live my life?”  “How shall I get along with others?”  “How do I do the right thing in the midst of so much pressure?”  “Why should I lead a good moral life?”

  8. There is growing need for more avenues to teach character education in the schools.

  9. Creates future artists who will communicate values.  The artists of the future, those who will create the stories for the next generations, need to experience how values are shared through story.

  10. The art form is based on characters in conflict with a problem to resolve.  How and why a character does what they do, is fertile ground for the study of good character trait development – it is a deeper study of motivation.

You can download this top ten list as a PDF.

We posted a new lesson series in the DRAMAShop on character education and peaceful problem solving.  These lessons apply techniques from drama to demonstrate what makes each person special and how emotions drive our actions.  These lessons are available to members -- JOIN to download them today!

The Importance of Questioning in Drama

questioning in drama

     Research* shows that questions fire the brain creating new avenues for learning – literally “growing” the brain.  Statements, on the other hand, do not stimulate this kind of activity and may actually “shut down” the brain.  Questioning also guides and enables the brain in the search for meaning, one of its main functions.  Because of the importance of questioning in student learning, each lesson created here on OneStopDramaShop.com is guided by either an exploratory or essential question

Exploratory questions are those that can be uncovered within the timeframe of the lesson.  They are narrower in scope and usually contribute to a larger overarching question called an essential question (also known as guiding question or inquiry question). 

Essential questions clarify what you want students to learn in dynamic overarching terms and focus learning on universal and transferable knowledge.  They are anchored to the standards and objectives being taught. 

Questioning is an important element in delivering drama.  Drama leaders ask questions to focus enquiry, spark imagination, challenge thought, reflect on work, build community, guide story development, and reach higher order thinking skills.

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We stocked this website with examples and techniques for using questioning in drama.  Become a member today and discover how easy it is to employ drama skills with your group and how powerful drama integration can be.

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*For more articles on questioning, see links below [opens new window]

"Asking Good Questions" by Kenneth Vogler

"What Makes a Question Essential?"  by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins

Classroom Management with Drama

Effective classroom management in Alaska middle school.

One of the top six questions I frequently get asked is about classroom management.

“How do I manage all of that movement, shyness, talking, and laughter?”

Management has to be considered from initial lesson planning through implementation.  Silliness, movement, shyness, talking out of turn, and laughter during performance are usual concerns.  Below are initial responses with more detailed information in management articles for members.


How do I manage movement?

  1. Introduce locomotor and non-locomotor movement by having the students try out actions both ways.  Give students a feel for moving around and then staying in one spot.  One way to teach this to younger students (kindergarten to third grades) can be found in the lesson “Working with Space.”  For older students (first to eighth grades), I recommend the lesson called “The Hare and the Tortoise.”  To build your own lesson, find a story where the characters travel through space and have the students play moments with locomotor movement and then with non-locomotor movement.
  2. Choose a signaling device and use it to cue when movement begins and ends.  I use a tambourine (drum, clave sticks, etc. work as well) and use it to start and stop movement.  I connect this to concentration/focus and attention.  See “The Freeze” activity on how to incorporate this concept.

How do I manage shyness, silliness, and laughter?

These types of responses often come from a sense of feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed.  Sometimes they can come from traumatic experiences or a fear of being laughed at or being made fun of by others.  As educators we want to make sure students feel emotionally and intellectually safe.  To assist with this try these ideas:

  1. Allow students to pass in an introductory lesson to get a feel for the activities, see how peers respond to each other, and trust how you are guiding the lessons.  Never coerce or cajole.  If you say they can pass, mean it. The lesson “Book, Stick, Chair, Person” is an example lesson you can use.
  2. Allow students to observe any time they are feeling “at risk.”  Let them enter the drama at their own pace.
  3. Organize the introduction of skills and activities so they start slow and risk free, building up to performance work.  My seven Introductory Lessons were designed to be just such a sequence.  Every grade level sequence I have designed repeats this process.
  4. Teach concentration early and often.  In the first or second drama lesson, teach concentration along with “showing off*” and the indicators of “showing off*.”  Use a signaling cue of some type like what is found in “The Freeze” lesson.  Students need to know that you always expect concentration/focus from them in order for drama to continue.  Follow through by always stopping and addressing any behavior that is out of place.

*If you are uncomfortable with the words “showing off,” choose something similar that is right for your group.

These tips should assist you with classroom management when you integrate drama or anytime you need to focus the group.  If you desire additional suggestions specific to your situation, contact us.

by Karen Erickson

Karen Erickson

Related Posts

Integrating Drama with Academic Subjects

integrating drama with academic subjects

How do I integrate other academic subjects with drama in a meaningful way?

Integrating drama with academic subjects might seem difficult at first but once you become familiar with the process, it becomes second nature.  Here is how I have conquered the first and most important steps of the process.

I begin with the standards.  I look at the standards in the grade level I teach for the two or more subject areas I would like to integrate.  Our site has the drama/theater standards (check it out after login) easy to read and easily downloadable by grade level for members.

I scan the concepts and skills listed in each of the subject’s standards, looking for connections.  For instance, I might see “story elements” in language arts and “character” in drama – this is a strong and obvious connection.

Some connections aren’t quite so obvious.  If I want to dig deeper into the underlying definitions of certain concepts or skills, I do a quick internet or old fashioned textbook search.  (Look at the wealth of drama content explanations in the Fine Arts Resource Manual located on our web site for members.)

I then review any curriculum maps or scope and sequence to see if the skills and concepts in each subject area are matching up on the learning time line for students.

Integrating drama with other academic subjects like reading and science** Stop here and go back to select something else, if the timing on teaching the content does not align.   Or proceed if it does.

-> If the standard connection seems strong and valid, I write objectives (my learning target) for each standard to be addressed in the lesson or unit.

If you have found a strong connection based on standards, you will impact learning in both subjects from the onset.  Of course, you must also include instruction and assessment in each area you are integrating, including drama.  We provide assessments of all types for you to download that will assist you in giving students feedback in their drama/theater learning. 

More articles to come will focus on writing meaningful objectives and selecting the right activity or story.  

Finding Time for Drama, Part 3

classroom using drama accelerating learning

Integrating drama saves time by accelerating learning.  This is the final blog answering this question I've often heard: "where do we get the time to integrate drama into the classroom?"

Where do we get the time to integrate?  I think the bigger question is, “Why aren’t we integrating across the curriculum more than we do, naturally, throughout the day?”  The brain sees patterns and builds on what it knows to form new thoughts and ideas.  Noted neuropsychology experts Caine and Caine* talk about how the brain likes to make connections and search for meaning.  Integration among subjects is not a time waster but a necessity for brain based learning. 

Think back to some of your most memorable learning experiences.  Were you passive or active?

We have no further to look than at how our own brains function.

Today I was at the Maritime Museum in Santa Barbara reading about Captain Cook.  About 25 years ago I wrote and performed in a play I had written about Captain Cook and his “discovery” of Australia. In researching the historical background for that play, I read about his travels, his life before exploration, and his death.    Today, I read that while on Tahiti, some of his officers and crew mingled with the people and experienced tattooing, leading to the association of tattoos with sailors, who then spread it to the Western world.  While reading the document my thoughts went to Gaugin and his stunning visual images of Tahiti and Tahitians   My brain connected information from research on the life of Captain Cook, maritime activities related at the museum, and visual images captured by a great artist weaving a personal understanding of the events, people, and impact of the art of tattooing on today’s life.   

These were connections my brain was making in free association and thought patterns.  Our brains are consistently trying to connect “dots.”   These patterns lead to the retention of knowledge.  These opportunities for pattern making can be consciously planned as happy discoveries for students.  Trying to push ideas into someone’s brain simply doesn’t work as we would like.  The brain likes mystery and puzzles.  It wants to devise its own understanding from bits and pieces of collected data and images.

We learn through patterns, puzzles, and connections.  So do students.  Drama provides the place for exploration and discovery as an alternative to passively interacting with knowledge.

You must have stories about drama’s impact on understanding and retention?  Share them here with us.  Let’s celebrate this remarkable instructional tool:  Drama!

Finding Time for Drama:   Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


Making Connections:  Teaching and the Human Brain, Renate N. Caine and Geoffrey Caine (1991,1994)

* 12 Brain/Mind Learning Principles in Action (2nd Ed) Renate N Caine, Geoffrey Caine, Carol McClintic, Karl Klimek. (2008) Corwin Press 

 

Finding Time for Drama, Part 2

Finding Time for Drama

This is the second of three blogs answering this question I've often heard: "where do we get the time to integrate drama into the classroom?"    Integrating drama saves time by accelerating learning.  

Finding Time for Drama   Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Several years ago, I worked in Jacksonville, Florida with an eighth grade class studying potential and kinetic energy.  The teacher and I outlined a drama-science unit where the students had to uncover these concepts through research and acting.  They collaborated, planned, practiced and presented their ideas on kinetic and potential energy while considering aesthetic movement choices and the use of imagination.   They discussed each other’s presentations and challenged each other’s science choices when they didn’t seem correct.  Even the students who struggled with the English language and were hesitant about speaking in class demonstrated their science ideas through movement and interaction.

The teacher was amazed

All of the students not only understood the content but they retained this information many MONTHS later when they took the state exam. The teacher observed some of them moving, using slight miniature gestures from the drama, while considering each answer to record on the exam. They had retained kinetic memory.  Where in other years they incorrectly answered these questions, this year they all passed...they ALL PASSED.  Time definitely not wasted.

For this particular unit we invested one class period in discipline-based drama learning to introduce skills they would need for the performance work and two classes in drama and science integrated together.   Yes, you might have to invest some initial work in the art form basics, not much, but some, to establish protocols for self-management and teamwork, as well as to have some rudimentary knowledge of the art form.  After that, the impact is undeniable.

I've created this following graphic below to show you visually what I mean.

In the third installment, we’ll dive into this question a little deeper. 

base
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New Skills
Concepts

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Arrival time:
5 days

Using classic teaching, there are delays on the way to student understanding

How can children learn new skills or concepts?

How can children learn new skills or concepts?

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Arrival time:
2 days

Integrating DRAMA saves time by accelerating learning

 

 

Finding Time for Drama, Part 1

author working to integrate drama

Here is a question I've often heard: "where do we get the time to integrate drama into the classroom?"  As a simple answer -- integrating drama saves time by accelerating learning.  The time spent introducing drama skills is offset by the speed at which students learn information presented [in history, math, science, etc].  Let me give you an example.

One of my favorite stories is from a second grade classroom near Chicago, Illinois where students were studying the Underground Railroad.  In our planning session, I asked the teacher why she spent 5 days on getting the students to understand this particular topic.  She said that even after 5 days spent discussing and reading about it, over 50% of the students thought the Underground Railroad was a train moving through deep tunnels.  This was due to the fact that Chicago’s EL (elevated) trains often go under the rivers and the city.  So, the teacher and I planned a drama together and I wrote a story you can find as a member on OneStopDramaShop.com called “Headin’ North.”  The story was built around skills they had learned previously in drama and the content about the Underground Railroad.  We also introduced a new objective: “analyzing the impact of setting on story.”  In 2 days, not 5, the students were eager to discuss the Underground Railroad as secret hiding locations (settings) helping slaves work their way from South to North following the North Star.   The students had “lived” the experience through drama.   I remember the teacher looking at me and saying with a smile, “Now what do I do with the rest of the week?” 

So yes, it took us a bit more instructional time…the few days at the beginning where I introduced drama…but now this invaluable tool was saving time and allowing the students to make connections among drama, language arts, and history. 

The impact of having students “live” history and connect learning through physical experiences is a benefit of the performing arts.

If you haven’t tried it, start with something small and see what happens.  It will save enormous amounts of time.  What is better than that?  Students retaining what they have learned over months and years!!

A direct answer to the question posed at the beginning is that the addition of drama as an instructional strategy, as well as honoring it as an academic subject, deepens student understanding and increases student retention in a shorter amount of time than you normally spend.

Next blog post, we’ll dive into this question a little deeper in our second of three installments.

Finding Time for Drama   Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3


All members of our site can download lessons that show you how to integrate drama into other classroom subjects.

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Science Integrated Drama Lesson

Science Integrated Drama Lesson

Drama Lesson Integrated with Science

Overview: this drama lesson demonstrates tailoring the Body Objects activity for science.

This FREE lesson steps you through an acting story with a focus on science.  The emphasis is on the question: "How can we use our bodies to show what we know about story and habitats?"  This lesson provides teaching tips, assessments and further integration ideas.  We designed this FREE drama lesson around the Body Objects Activity

This lesson is part of our Get Started guide that lays the foundation for more integrated work.


onestopdramashop and creative directions logoAre  YOU  interested in finding new drama integrated lesson plans?  JOIN TODAY to visit exclusive member-only pages where you will find a classroom-tested curriculum with clear and simple implementation strategies.  Our materials align with National Core Arts Standards.  We offer a straightforward way to integrate drama into your teaching.

Language Arts Integrated Drama Lesson

Language Arts Integrated Drama Lesson

Drama Lesson Integrated with Language Arts

Overview: this drama lesson demonstrates tailoring the Body Objects activity for language arts learning.

This FREE lesson steps you through an acting story with a focus on language arts.  The emphasis is on the question: "What impact do details have on creating and communicating ideas?"  This lesson provides teaching tips, assessments and further integration ideas.  We designed this lesson around the Body Objects Activity

This lesson is part of our Get Started guide that lays the foundation for more integrated work.


onestopdramashop and creative directions logoAre  YOU  interested in finding new drama integrated lesson plans?  JOIN TODAY to visit exclusive member-only pages where you will find a classroom-tested curriculum with clear and simple implementation strategies.  Our materials align with National Core Arts Standards.  We offer a straightforward way to integrate drama into your teaching.

Acting Story Lesson

acting story

Acting Story Lesson using Body Objects activity

Overview: this lesson combines drama skills with a story to form a drama.

This FREE lesson couples an acting story (included) with body objects work to create a Drama.  Using a story turns the Body Object activity into a Drama.  The goal for participants is to demonstrate how concentration, imagination, imitation, and collaboration are used in drama.  This lesson steps you through the action providing teaching tips, assessments and further integration ideas.  We designed this drama lesson to follow after the Skills and Vocabulary Lesson.  

This lesson is part of our Get Started guide that lays the foundation for more integrated work.


onestopdramashop and creative directions logoAre  YOU  interested in finding new drama integrated lesson plans?  JOIN TODAY to visit exclusive member-only pages where you will find a classroom-tested curriculum with clear and simple implementation strategies.  Our materials align with National Core Arts Standards.  We offer a straightforward way to integrate drama into your teaching.