The power of drama: creating experiences

So I’m taking the time during the Easter Holidays to pile on the blog posts, as I’m sure I’ll find it harder to post these type of posts whilst I’m back in work but we shall see.

 

I decided to write a post on the use of drama in the primary classroom as I am a true advocate of it. Let me tell you where it all began. Back in the days of my PGCE  at The University of Manchester (2011-2012) we had a number of foundation subject days. The one that has stayed in my mind the most and the one that I probably have used and gained the most from was the History Day.

We had this great lady come in and deliver us a history/drama session first hand. We started with The Black Death. I later adapted this session and added what I believe to be improvements and received an outstanding lesson observation 🙂

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I’ll give you a recount of the lesson so you can replicate it if you wish…

Set the scene with the place and date for the children: I did this with a handwritten, tea stained letter from the past asking the children to help them solve what was going wrong. I also placed Crime Scene tape over the classroom door before they got back to class.

First everyone is told to walk around the room as if we were in London just prior to the plague. Everyone was smiling and comfortable, bumping into people accidently etc etc.

Things were about to change… next we have a lady in a carriage, suddenly her driver dies (the driver is wearing a black spot). The lady gets out and shakes her driver to see what was wrong with him and a black spot is placed on her. (At this point it is a good idea to use some freezeframe thought techniques, more on that later). The man is taken away and later on that evening the lady is sick in her house, the doctor is called and low and behold a black spot is placed on him too. You’ve guessed it they both die too.

Now London is different, place some black spots on a few children, give them some black spots to place on other children. Everyone is walking around the town again, but this time there are no smiles, everyone is cautious. Some people are holding flowers under their noses as they believe the illness is caused by bad air. (Inform the children who are placing spots on others to make sure some of these children are spotted).

Everyone with a black spot is now dead and lying on the floor. The others who survived are now sitting around the edge of the classroom again. Inform the children that we need someone to come and take away the dead people…warn them they might die if they do. Tell the children that the mayor decided that he would pay prisoners with their freedom if they would clear the dead bodies. So choose two prisoners and have them “pick up” the dead bodies and put them all in a “pit”. These two prisoners later then die.

Plenary time – Gather all the children and do a think, pair, share activity answering the question how was the black death spread. And wallah! Outstanding lesson in the bag. Which I used for an interview by the way.

 

The point of this lesson is that you are not the teacher doing a chalk and talk lesson. You aren’t even teaching the children here- you are a facilitator of learning. The best kind of learning takes place when the children are experiencing it themselves and figuring things out on their own. Hence the title of this post creating experiences!

 

I was actually going to give you a few different examples of how I’ve used drama in the classroom to great effect. However I like to keep my blog posts (relatively) short and sweet. So look out for ‘The power of drama: creating experiences part 2’ coming up shortly!

 

Again thanks for taking the time to read and as always I hope it will be of some use to you 🙂

 

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