My Attempt at Drama in the Classroom.

Back in Buenos Aires, after a relaxing and exciting month in Bella Colombia. Have just arrived and realised that the blogosphere has been all the rage about using drama in the classroom. I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant and afraid of using it in my own classes. However, after attending @shellterrell’s workshop on the topic, I decided to give it a try.Here then, is my humble contribution to the debate. My first attempt at it.

Drama masks

Last year, with my 5th grade students, we read The Adventures of  Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. We read one chapter per class, and every day we did different activities. You can see one of them related to collaborative drawing in the classroom here.

Another day I decided to give drama a try. The original activity I had planned was a bit dull and simple. Students were supposed to listen to the corresponding book chapter, and after that, create a dialogue about that part of the story and come to the front to perform it. However, the day before, I had attended Shelly’s workshop on drama, and while I was driving to school ( I have to admit that this is the time when I come up with the most brilliant ideas!) I had one of those wonderful light bulb moments… (I know I haven’t invented the wheel, but I managed to make my activity better and much more fun)

A light bulb moment

I’m sure you are all waiting for my revolutionary idea. Pretty simple to tell you the truth. First, I asked my students to brainstorm feelings and moods. I wrote them on the blackboard. They came up with things such as happy, sad, excited, nervous, afraid, and so on and so forth. After that, I read the chapter to them and they had to write a dialogue based on it to perform in front of the class. The difference from the original activity being that they had to choose a feeling and perform it showing that feeling. The other groups had to guess what the feeling was. It was great fun and it brought tons of laughter to the classroom. It was great, because it provided the students who were acting as the audience, with a real purpose for listening to their peers. Not just listening for the sake of listening.

If you are interested in the use of drama in the classroom, Shelly has made a thorough post with lots of resources and ideas here , and @davedodgson has written an inspirational post with plenty of activities to use with YLs here. Thanks to both of them for having motivated me to incorporate drama in my own lessons and for having taught me so many things!

I would love to learn other ways of using drama, so I would appreciate you sharing your own techniques, activities or resources about the topic. Let’s keep on learning collaborately.


Posted on February 1, 2011, in Resources for tesl/tefl and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Hey Sabrina 🙂

    Glad the lesson went well. I think you have found a trick here:

    “The other groups had to guess what the feeling was. It was great fun and it brought tons of laughter to the classroom. It was great, because it provided the students who were acting as the audience, with a real purpose for listening to their peers”

    Whenever it’s a game, it instantly becomes fun. All of my successful activities in class have “made it into a game”. The “goal” and “fun” element really motivates students, doesn’t it!

    I’m glad you were inspired by the community. From what I’ve seen, Shelly and David are great sharers.

    BTW I’ve ALWAYS wanted to get to Argentina. Many of my favorite amigos while living en mexico fueron “che borludos”. Haha, buena gente. Hopefully, I’ll get there soon. 🙂

    • Brad! Thanks for passing by. Yeah, games provide dull activities with a clear aim and add a great amount of fun. I just love them and I try to include them in my classes whenever it is possible. Another thing I try to take into account when planning games for my classes is that winning the game isn’t related to the students’ competence in the language, but with LUCK! This motivates all the students to participate, even those who are not very confident in their use of the language. What do you think?

      • Funny that you mention their success in an activity “isn’t related to the students’ competence in the language, but with LUCK!” I like this thought.

        To me, Luck means being very present to the actual situation and choosing the best of what life offers you. So many people contribute luck to something “outside” and not to the “watcher” inside.

        If we had more “luck” in class, I’m sure our students’ and our success would be at its best.

        Thanks again for sharing about your “luck” in class. 🙂

    • Oh… BTW. I thought I might share my favorite “drama” class activity:

      “Job fair”

      Students act like either bosses or job seekers and ask each other profession-specific pertinent questions. I hand out job descriptions for the bosses (Engineer, EFL teacher, Spy, President, Garbage collecter) and have the job seekers “invent” a new resumé.

      Tons of fun. Success every year, and I have never heard a busier EFL classroom. Plus, I get to observe as my students actively reinforce and explore their learning.

      Great for introducing professional practices, resumés, introductions, how to shake a hand “firmly”, how to use eye contact to create better dialogue… endless

      • I loved the activity. Thank you so much for sharing!!! I’ll give it a try and let yu know how it went.

  2. I teach middle school language arts. We act out in class Shakespeare plays (I’ve edited them down a bit, but the plays are essentially intact). Grade 7 – Macbeth, Grade 8 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Acting out the words makes them make sense – and we talk about the expressions, too. Costumes help keep the lovers straight in Dream. Sounds overwhelming but builds Shakespeare enthusiasts. If you want to start small, there are a number of versions of the plays for kids which are short – I started there.

    • Hey Fran! You seem to be an expert on the topic. Thanks for sharing these tips. I’m already following your blog in order to get more ideas and recommendations.

  3. Ah, yes – the ride to work is a great place to come up with ideas! 🙂 A bus comes and picks me and a few other teachers up every morning and we come up with some great lesson ideas in that 15 minute early morning journey.

    I love doing the same kind of activity where the students have to apply a mood to whatever they say. It really gets them to think about how they say something and it’s great to highlight how the same words can carry a different meaning depending on the mood of the speaker.

    I’m glad my post led to you writing this one – let’s keep the circle of inspiration going!

    • Dave! It is always a pleasure to have you around. Let’s keep on learning together and inspiring and motivating each other. Thanks for passing by.

  4. Shelly Sanchez Terrell

    The webinar you participated in is still my favorite! I had so much fun and you were a huge part of it! Thanks for being so brave and volunteering. Your post shows how once again you are such a fun and motivating teacher.

    • Thank you Shelly for your nice words. I had a lot of fun too. I imagine that that’s the reason why I decided to start incorporating drama into my lessons! =)

  1. Pingback: » ELT news feed » Drama in ELT

  2. Pingback: Literature in the Classroom: Photostories « Sabrina’s Weblog

  3. Pingback: Drama is tiptoing into my classes! « Sabrina’s Weblog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: