3. Activities to develop fluency & drama skills
by Elaine Gallagher A. GENERAL INFORMATION Acting is an art, a craft, and a talent. It can be taught and developed. Even though some […]
A. GENERAL INFORMATION
Acting is an art, a craft, and a talent. It can be taught and developed. Even though some students may have a natural talent for acting, or writing, or mathematics…they must be taught how to improve and expand on these skills and talents. Frequently, some students appear to have no talent for anything, yet when exposed to new experiences, they blossom and grow, building an interest where one previously had not existed.
Our responsibility and privilege as an educator is to provide our students with as many opportunities as possible. Period.
Presentation of plays, in several of its modes, is one of these experiences. As actor and stage crew, students need to be exposed to various modes to experience the full scope of acting and play production.
B. ROLE PLAYING & OTHER ACTIVITIES
1. Have the children read or repeat your words in a story they know.
- In the story The Little Lost Baby Fish, ask the students to repeat with you every time the baby fish asks, «Have you seen my mother, and my brothers, and my sisters?»
- In Little Red Riding Hood, students can repeat, » Grandmother, what BIG teeth you have,» and other repeated sayings in the story.
2. Have students come up front, or stand by their chairs, to «act out» parts of a story, such as swimming motions, or walking in a circle, or other physical activities connected to or described in a story.
3. Students can use percussion instruments, or clapping, or other sounds, to show rhythm or action or tension in a story. The goal is that they learn how to recognize when sounds are needed and how sound effects can enhance a story.
4. Play games such as «Simon Says» or «Musical Chairs» so students will know how to respond to music, or to oral directions in a prompt, responsive manner.
5. Provide an envelope or small bag with slips of paper inside. On each slip of paper write a simple sentence that can be acted out in pantomime, such as «I have a headache.» or «What time is it?» The other students will try to guess what phrase or sentence is being acted out. The student who is the «actor» get points for how many seconds it takes the audience to guess what he/she is demonstrating. The faster the audience understands the phrase, the better it is for the actor. Try to have 5 – 10 students act out a phrase every few days, so that eventually, all students have the opportunity to be an actor.
6. Teams or pairs of students can write simple sentences for others to act out.
7. Teams or pairs of students can write an outline, or an idea for topics that would make a good play, listing characters, setting, and a plot.
8. You can read a story aloud to your students, and teach them actions to accompany the story, or, they can invent their own actions, to perform in small groups for the others to watch. Stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk, The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, The Ugly Duckling, Goldilocks and the Three Bear, and The Three Billy Goats Gruff all lend themselves to the use of actions, repetition, and sound effects.
9. Designing, drawing and coloring stage sets, scenery, or backgrounds for a play setting can be a good introduction for students to understand how a play director «sees» things to make the play more interesting for the audience.
10. You can play sections of various kinds of music, and ask students to describe or illustrate what they feel, and what they «see» in their brain’s eye as they are exposed to different styles of music. Soft, classical music, lullabies, jazz, modern rock, modern romantic music, opera, rap music, instrumental marches, are some ideas. Students may not like all the music…which is OK…The immediate goal is that they respond to the music in some way…..physically, mentally, artistically, or verbally. The long-term goal is that they recognize that the music of a play or movie can show the audience many things: suspense, fear, love, calmness, relaxation, excitement, suspense, etc.
You will have to make your own CD for this activity, by copying segments of various pieces of music to exemplify as many styles of music as possible. It may take you some time, but is very worthwhile because the CD can be used over and over for this activity with your groups, as well as a good base for a game of Musical Chairs.
These ten activities show you ideas of what you can do to enhance the abilities of your students in the area of acting and play production. You may think of others.
C. USING MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES IN DRAMA ACTIVITIES
We need to remember that a student may have various «intelligences» or «learning preferences» that we might not recognize unless we look more deeply. This implies that we MUST offer a wide variety of activities in our classrooms so we can reach all of our students by one method or another.
Obviously, very traditional, rigid teaching styles will not be able to meet the needs of 21st Century students with their various learning preferences. We must recognize that our students’ have strengths that may not be too easily identifiable, and for that reason, if we are to be truly professional educators, we need to offer a variety of activities to meet our students’ learning needs, intelligences, and preferences.
When we use acting and play production in the classroom, our students use a variety of intelligences, also known as learner preferences.
Depending on the mode used in the preparation of a play production (actor or stage crew) , these are the some of the learner preferences used:
- MUSICAL – RHYTHMIC
- SPATIAL – VISUAL
The only one not included is Naturalist, but, perhaps, if a play were to be presented about Audubon, or Darwin, NATURALIST intelligence would be included. It is clear to see that plays and acting will be one easy way to reach most of our students’ learning styles.
Next: PART 4 – Specific vocabulary topics and English expectations for grades k1 and k2.