What should I teach in Drama to make the learning more impactful?
As teachers we want to teach everything right away but the best practice is to introduce a skill or concept, demonstrate how it is used in practice, then turn it over to the students to experiment and apply it in a dramatic story or activity. Where drama is concerned the saying “less is more” holds true as students sequence their knowledge and skills like building blocks until one day there is a magnificent sky scraper in the form of completed drama of which to be proud. Young people of all ages can produce wonderful works of art, not necessarily for an audience, in a short period of time if there is a strong and logical sequence to the learning presented. I like to begin with the skills that spell C.I.T.I.C. – Concentration, Imagination, Transformation, Imitation, and Collaboration.
- + CONCENTRATION: a central skill for this art form. Students apply this skill to listen and follow directions, remember the sequence of events for the drama, focus on their actions, and remain present during their team planning sessions.
- + IMAGINATION: this skill cannot happen without concentration and it is the ability to pretend, see, hear, taste, smell, and touch things that aren’t there in front of them or in the environment. This is the well from which stories flow.
- + TRANSFORMATION: this skill allows the students to become! They can change themselves into characters or into objects that inhabit a setting. This is the heart of the art form. Professional actors might even transform their thinking so that they think like the character. Students are beginning here to walk in the shoes of another person or to think more deeply about the setting of the story.
- + IMITATION: this is the verb of the art form. Students act like they are doing something that mirrors real life or mirrors the reality of the drama they are creating. This skill is also important for actor safety. We don’t actually hit a fellow actor, we act like we are to create a grand illusion. In this way, actors are magicians of a sort.
- + COLLABORATION: this is a team/group art form. Students must learn to negotiate, brainstorm, cooperate, support, and compromise with other actors or artists. In the theater we refer to this as building ensemble and it is a key component to a successful process of creating dramatic story.
These five skills build a solid foundation for student-created dramas based on literature, nonfiction text, or student devised work from their own imaginations. Once achieved, I move on to vocal skills and story making strategies from text of any type, including from science and social studies. Even when moving forward I do not abandon the work on the five foundational skills. They will give you the best learning impact using drama.
As members, you will easily find activities and lessons related to skills mentioned here to create your learning impact -- C.I.T.I.C., vocal, storytelling, science, social studies, etc. Our search engine simplifies finding material by Integration Ideas or different Concepts and Skills.