ERIC Identifier: ED469926
Publication Date: 2002-11-00
Author: Tatar, Sibel
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading
English and Communication Bloomington IN., Family Learning Association
Dramatic Activities in Language Arts Classrooms: Resource
Summary. ERIC Digest.
Increasing numbers of teachers are discovering classroom drama to be highly
valuable as an instructional tool (Kaaland-Wells, 1994). In dramatic activities,
children learn to use language effectively and creatively while they are
experiencing different points of views, looking for solutions, and discussing
ideas. This digest will review some of the related literature regarding the
benefits of classroom drama, as well as introduce a variety of resources to help
educators incorporate dramatic activities in their language arts classrooms.
Although several terms have been used to refer to "classroom drama" such as
creative dramatics, educational drama, theater games, sociodramatic play, role
drama, and role playing, the terms "creative drama" and "drama in education" are
umbrella concepts which embrace all the various types of improvised and informal
drama used in classrooms. According to some authors, the goal and focus of
creative drama are twofold: (1) creating "an experience through which students
may come to under-stand human interactions, empathize with other people, and
internalize alternative points of view" (Wagner, 1988, p. 5), and (2) developing
understanding and learning through drama rather than "some finished product such
as a well-mounted play" (Heinig, 1993, p. 22). In other words, the purpose of
educational drama is not to produce a theater play for an audience but to
contribute to students' personality growth and facilitate their learning by
having them respond to situations, dilemmas, or conflicts assuming the role of
imagined characters. It should be also noted that almost all students,
regardless of their artistic skills for acting, can perform and benefit from
this type of drama. For example, some of the techniques used in creative drama
such as mime, movement exercises or invented dialogue give every child an
opportunity to be actively engaged in drama without necessarily having to act or
speak (Stewig, 2000).
According to Heining (1993, p. 6), the value of drama in teaching language
arts comes from the fact that "learning language arts becomes more meaningful
when it stimulates everyday life experiences." Dramatic performance can provide
students an opportunity to use language to express various emotions, to solve
problems, to make decisions, to socialize, and to develop empathy which
eventually contributes to their self-esteem and creativity. In addition, drama
activities may be useful in the development of oral communication skills,
reading, and writing. Through drama, children may discover different styles and
registers which are very different from their everyday speech. Wagner (1998)
notes that "drama provides children with experiences that enhance their ability
to judge the appropriateness of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies
for a wide variety of imagined experiences" (p. 35). Drama has also been found
by one author to be helpful for reading and writing skills: McCaslin (1990), for
instance, argues that "most teachers find drama to be a strong motivation for
reading and vocabulary building" (p. 291). The oral language skills developed
through drama have also been found by some scholars to facilitate student's
writing skills (Heathcote, 1981; Wagner, 1985).
INTERNET-BASED DRAMA EDUCATION RESOURCES
Aaron Shepard's RT
This site, prepared by the award-winning children's
author Aaron Shepard, offers several resources for reader's theater, among them
scripts adapted from stories of Aaron Shepard and other authors, as well as
online guide to scripting, staging, and performing.
Lisa Blau Homepage
by Len Blau in memory of his wife, Lisa, a literacy educator, this page provides
more than 25 free scripts for reader's theatre and is updated monthly.
Creative Drama & Theatre Education Resource Site
page is created and maintained by Janine Moyer Buesgen. It offers practical
classroom ideas, book lists, theatre games, and scripts.
The Drama Teacher's Resource Room
and maintained by Thornton Consulting & Training Services, this website
offers ideas for classroom and stage, including articles on costume, props, set
design, and lighting.
Drama Curriculum Guide
part of Arts Education and Curriculum Guides of Saskatchewa, this website
provides materials for educators interested in designing a drama curriculum for
middle school students.
The Art of Creative Dramatics through the Eyes
of a Young Child
Drama for Those Who Do Not Like or Understand Drama
The Creative Dramatics Cookbook: Recipes for Playmaking
The Family on Stage: Creative Play Production in the Classroom
Classroom Lesson Plans
Storytelling activities & lesson ideas
American Alliance of Theatre and
Alliance of Theatre and Education (AATE) promotes standards for excellence in
theatre and theatre education and provides a national resource network for
professionals involved in theatre and drama in education.
Educational Theatre Association (EdTA)
in 1929, the EdTA provides professional development workshops and courses to
classroom teachers. The Educational Theatre Association publishes "Dramatics"
magazine, a monthly periodical for theatre students and teachers, and "Teaching
Theatre", a quarterly journal for theatre educators.
International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ)
was established in 1965 and is today an international network of theatre for
children and young people. ASSITEJ links thousands of theatres, organizations,
and individuals through national centers in more than 70 countries.
I.D.E.A.: The International Drama/Theatre and Education Association
International Drama/Theatre and Education Association (IDEA) was established in
Oporto, Portugal in July, 1992. IDEA consists of several member associations
representing more than 50 countries around the world. The association promotes
and advocates for drama/theatre as part of a rich, full human education, and it
provides an international forum for those working as drama/theatre educators
throughout the world.
Matters is a journal published with the support of the Ohio State University and
the Ohio Drama and Education Exchange. The journal provides a forum for the
discussion of the theory and practice of drama and theatre education. It is
designed to appeal to a wide range of readers including students, elementary and
secondary teachers, drama/theatre practitioners, and academics from a variety of
Research in Drama Education
in Drama Education is an international, refereed journal aimed at those
interested in drama and theatre conducted in educational contexts. It
disseminates completed research and research in progress, and through its
Viewpoint section it encourages debate among researchers, both on its published
articles and on other matters.
CREATIVE DRAMATICS IN THE CLASSROOM: Curriculum Unit.
Lanning, Colleen Caine.
Rocky River, OH: The Center for Learning.
This book, which includes 12 cross-disciplinary lessons, canbe used both as a
supplementary text or standard text. Each lesson ispresented with objectives,
notes, procedures for 2-7 activities, andreproducible handouts. Lessons cover
vocal expression (volume, rate,pitch, stress, chanting, choral speaking, and
Reader's Theatre), bodylanguage (gesture, facial expression, posture and
pantomime), andcharacter creation.
DRAMA FOR LEARNING: Dorothy Heathcote's mantle of the expertapproach to
Heathcote, Dorothy; Bolton, Gavin M.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
In this book, the authors describe a teaching approachcalled "Mantle of the
Expert". Based on the idea that contextualizationis the key factor in meaningful
teaching, the book d Children and drama (pp.78-90). New York: Longman.
Heinig, R. B. (1993). Creative drama for the classroom teacher. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Kaaland-Wells, C. (1994). Classroom teachers' perceptions and uses of
creative drama. Youth Theatre Journal, 8(4), 21-26. [EJ 490 707]
McCaslin, N. (1990). Creative drama in the classroom. New York: Longman.
Stewig, J. W. (2000). Extending the pleasure of story with drama. Book Links,
9(5), 38-40. [EJ 615 177]
Wagner, B.J. (1985). Elevating the written word through the spoken: Dorothy
Heathcote and a group of 9 to 13-year-olds as monks. Theory into Practice,
24(3), 166-172. [EJ 324 609]
Wagner, B. J. (1998). Educational drama and language arts: What research
shows. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.