Get a costume box. Get some creativity. Do drama and learn! Here’s how.
I have a costume box in my room and it is AWESOME. This time of year is THE TIME I add to it because of all of the Halloween costumery out there. (Mark your calendar for the day after the event — you’ll pick up lots of goodies for almost nothing.) Include dry erase boards as they can have anything drawn on them and become great props.
Every time I get out the costume box the kids perk up and get excited so usually I try to have at least 2 lessons a month using this technique.
When looking at the latest lessons I’ve used, there are two categories of how I use drama to teach: review and quick teaching of topics. Let’s talk about both drama in the classroom activities and give you an example of each.
Drama in the Classroom Activities: Idea #1 REVIEW
In my Computer Science class we were learning about how to do certain things: keep your computer safe, protect from viruses, etc. So, in this case, I wanted to review HOW to do certain things. I wanted the actions they need to take in their real lives to become real. The best way to reinforce their chapter reading, class discussions and other work we’ve done is to see this in action. This took the first 20 minutes of class if you include my short 2 minute review after each concept. Here’s the bell ringer:
VIRUS AND COMPUTER SECURITY BELLRINGER
Your group has 5 minutes to prepare a 1 minute skit on the following. You should dramatically depict the following. Please put the label of what someone is by sticking the word on their shirt (i.e. the firewall will have the word firewall on their shirt).
The timer for 5 minutes will start when the bell rings. GO!!
You will be graded on the following for a work ethic grade:
- Did you participate in the skit somehow? (10 points)
- Did your skit depict and explain the topic? (50 points)
- Did you use the essential terms and have at least 2 terms labeled on a person? (20 pts/ 10 pts per)
- Bonus: Creativity, humor, or artistic flair (5 points)
- Were you ready in the time required? (5 points)
- Did you pay attention to others as they presented? (10 points)
You are going to do a brief 1 minute skit with your group depicting the following.
Group A: How to keep your computer from being stolen (p O-18)
Group B: How Viruses infect computers and how to keep safe from them. (p O-19)
Group C: How to Keep Your Computer Safe From Intrusions (p O-20)
Group D: How to Block Spyware and Pop Up Ads (p O-21)
Group E: How to Avoid Email Scams (p O-23)
Ways to Mix this Up
You can use this for many types of procedures:
- How to tackle certain reading passages (you could have kids dramatize tips for each other by having one person play the struggler and even blow up the text onto a large poster.)
- In science you could have kids dramatize processes in a cell or how certain chemicals interact (have them tape the words on their chests — this is a MUST DO).
- In history, you could have brief moments in the life of a historical figure that you dramatize.
- In math it could be how to solve certain problems — but one kid could play “Mr x” and what he has to do complete the challenge and “solve” the mystery. (The equation.)
- There are so many ways to bring this in. (Add your own in the comments!)
Drama in the Classroom Activities: Idea #2 The Roving Reporter
I love bringing current events into my classes — particularly Computer Science. Part of what I teach is helping kids understand what this new technology actually means to their lives and the real world. By using drama in this way, students are pushed to apply it to the real world and how it will actually be used. I do handpick the new technologies myself from those I find as I listen to my favorite technology podcasts and the blogs I read.
In this case, there is a somewhat defined roleplay where there is a news anchor (at the desk — they will want a table and a coffee cup so just go ahead and get one or you’ll lose yours off your desk.) The news anchor tells the story and then hands off to a “roving reporter” (who just has to have a mike – just make one) who interviews an eyewitness. The news anchor is handed back to for a conclusion.
Once you’ve trained students on this one, it works like a charm and is faster to do each time. Students have to get to the core of the story quickly. For me, this takes a bit longer because the topics take a good 20 minutes of research – yours may take far less. After each skit, students get pretty excited and want to talk for a moment – but to keep on track use a timer. Here’s a bellringer I’ve used:
THE REAL NEWS!!!
Today you are one of these three characters:
- A news anchor at a news desk reporting the story.
- A roving reporter who is on site doing an interview with an eyewitness
- An eyewitness who has seen this in action.
Your job is to explain one of these technologies that is creating Buzz in silicon valley.
Team A: Ultrasonic sound being used as part of mobile devices including mobile phones or Chromecast.
Team B: Smartwatches and the Gear-S operating system
Team C: Google Drones are now competing with the Amazon Delivery drone although neither is legal in the US yet.
Team D: Apple has announcements this week, many think they will announce their own Phablet.
Team E: The Mafia is using a hypersonic weapon to target the rich and have them pay a ransom for it to stop.
What You’ll Do
You will have 20 minutes to research this trend or topic and get the REAL story. Then, you will stage a dramatic news report with this outline. You may use props from the costume box.
Start off with the anchor at the news desk reporting on the facts.
The anchor hands the news report off to the roving reporter who is on location.
The roving reporter says what he/she sees and interviews an eyewitness. (If you have to have 4 on your team there will be 2 eyewitnesses)
The roving reporter hands it back off to the news anchor who wraps up and then ends with… and now onto other news.
You will be graded as follows:
15 points Did you participate?
15 points Did you explain the technology in an easy to understand way? (Anchor)
15 points Did you explain accurately what you’re seeing on site? (Roving reporter)
15 points Did you explain what a person would really see in this scenario?
40 points Did you have 4 points of explanation and use the BRIEF model.
Note, that in this, I’ve taught them some concepts from the book Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less by Joseph McCormack. (He’s a former military intelligence officer tasked to help people be better communicators. AWESOME book on communication.)
Ways to Mix This Up
This lesson is great for things that can be observed:
- historical events,
- key actions in a novel,
- what a particular experiment looked like in large scale,
- a scientific discovery,
- a key mathematical discovery, and more.
I do drama.
While I don’t “do drama” with kids in terms of hysteria — this is one way I totally “do drama.” Here are a few tips to make this even better for you and the students:
- Take a “class-ie” when you’re done. This is like a selfie but of a class. Make sure they leave words on their shirts (if you used them) and their costumes and get a quick picture.
- If you take the whole period, make sure that clean up happens – give yourself a good 7 minutes to finish up the event
- After clean up happens, give your own version of the Oscars. You can use paper plates and write on them things you want to recognize or get silly dollar store bling or even use stickers. This will get everyone cleaned up quickly and also let you reinforce the great things that you saw whether it was acting or key concepts. I have a little tiny silly trophy to give to the winning team with the best skit. You can also vote on people’s choice.
- When students become better at this, you may choose to film — but often I don’t just because it can shut down the learning and freedom you get.
- Again — make sure the kids help you CLEAN UP.
- Share costume boxes with other teachers and rotate to share expenses. If you have a stage area (some schools are building them) create a space for costumes and teach students classroom procedures for how to care for costumes and props.
- Ask parents for old costumes or cool stuff for your box. (But be ready to toss some things out.) In particular look for small, easy to use things like hats or old tacky ties. All of these items should be clean.
This is one of many ways you can incorporate all types of learners into the classroom. I find that things we act out become far more memorable to students.
Enjoy! I hope you do drama now too.
If you have ideas, please share them in the comments so others can learn from you. I want to learn from you too!