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Written by Administrator Gordon Hensley   
Friday, 05 February 2010 03:11

Story Drama

What is Story Drama?

Story drama is the most popular form of classroom creative drama. Many teachers use it without really knowing what it is. The basic concept is to take a piece of literature that the students can appreciate, and act it out. The before mentioned tips on choosing material are pertinent here as well. By using a storybook, poem, lyrics, or folk tale, and following the suggested lesson plan layout, you can transport your class to the world of drama.

Story drama is very popular with children, young and old. Younger children tend to enjoy acting out the story as it is being read, whereas older children enjoy exploring the concept or theme of the entire story.

Why should my students use Story Drama?

From my experience, reading to young people helps develop their vocabulary, story understanding and composition, and a sense of adventure and encouragement to read on their own. Story Drama also allows different views of characters, decisions, and plot lines.

Where does Story Drama fit into my curriculum?

Anywhere! English and Writing are givens in using story drama, but other content areas can be supported as well depending on your story.

How do I start?

There are several steps in preparing a story drama. The main consideration is what you want students to learn. This decision may be based on your text, or on other curricular goals. The lesson plan should "come full circle" with a beginning, middle, and an end.

1. The lesson plan. When you have decided what objectives you want to achieve and have a text, sketch out a lesson plan. Remember to include an introduction/framing, a process/procedure, and a closure/assessment section.

2. Introduction. Think about how you can prepare students for the lesson. This can be done through discussion, playing a game, pictures, or music. The possibilities are endless. The goal is to mentally prepare the class to receive your message.

3. Process. Decide how to best present the story. The story can be retold in your own words or read aloud. Think of some creative ways to act it out in your classroom. Refer to "simple concepts to theatricalize your lesson" in the "drama" section for some ideas.

4. Closure. This is to re-enforce learning. Assess that the students "got" what you were trying to convey. This can be done in many ways. Some ideas include discussion, hands-on experiences, and visual art. Refer to section seven for more ideas.

It is important to make sure that the messages you are conveying during your story drama are sensitive to multiple cultures, lifestyles, and races. Choosing the right text can be difficult, as you want to insure a positive model, and stay away from sensitive issues and censored material. As a teacher, you have the power to empower or protect through text choices. The following is a list of questions to consider when choosing a text for a story drama.

Check the illustrations- Be aware of stereotypes, tokenism, and who is doing what. Look for stereotypical costuming and actions. Is the story is oppressive to any culture or people?

Check the storyline- Do the characters have to meet standards for success that are not their own? Is resolution of problems brought about justly? How is the role of minorities portrayed?

Look at the lifestyles- Is anyone in the story put down for being different? Are they setting debatable examples? Consider the treatment of minorities and people with disabilities.

Weigh the relationships- Do the whites lead and blacks follow? Men and women? Is the relationship in the story portrayed fairly?

Note the heroes- Does the hero win by hurting/ignoring/oppressing others? Is the hero stereotypical?

Consider the effects- What will children take from this story? What does the story say about specific genders, races, cultures, or lifestyles?

Consider the author/illustrator's background- Read the biography of the author. Are they qualified to represent this topic justly?

Check out the author's perspective- What personal biases are hidden in the story? Is the author subtly conveying a truthful message?

Watch for loaded words- Is there sexist language or "loaded" words ("primitive, "savage") associated with certain races or cultures?

Check the copyright date- Is the book old? Generally, stronger opinions are conveyed in older books. Most modern authors are aware of students' multicultural needs.

From Rethinking Our Classrooms

The three main stages of literary appreciation that this manual is concerned with is lower, middle, and upper elementary. As children progress developmentally, they become more interested in possibilities of plot and theme.

Birth to kindergarten Nursery rhymes, folktales, picture books
Primary grades School reading texts, easy books, animals, world messages
Upper elementary Fantasy books, animal stories, travel, history

What does Story Drama look like in a lesson plan?

Using Story Drama in a lesson may look something like this:

1. Divide the students into groups of 6. Assign players to play the following roles within each group. As you call out the role, ask the student to sit down. The roles are Thing 1, Thing 2, the fish, The cat, Sally, and the boy telling the story.

2. When roles are determined, ask the students to work together for a moment to create a "frozen picture" of the middle section of the story when the Things were running wild. Encourage and cater to groups individually to emphasize physicality and expressions.

3. When groups are ready, take turns showing your pose to the other groups. Can you guess who is playing what part?

4. Explain that an actress from the story is going to step into role as the mother. In role, she asks the class exactly what happened while she was away from home. Ask students to raise their hands to tell the story. Try to divide the responses so all get to speak. As the mother, inquire about details in the story.
. . . . . . . . . . .OR . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5. Older students may divide into small groups of 3 or 4 and create a commercial for objects in the story. List on the board their "commercial" options. These are "items perfect for balancing," "new and improved Things!," "The handy-dandy red Thing storage box," and "the quicker mess picker upper."

What educational standards are met by Story Drama?

National Theatre Standard and Benchmarks
Directs scenes and productions
Level 2 (Grade K-4)
Knows various ways of staging classroom
Plans and prepares improvisations
Level 3 (Grade 5-8)
Plans visual and aural elements for improvised and
scripted scenes
Organizes rehearsals for improvised and scripted
Level 4 (Grade 9-12)
Develops multiple interpretations and visual and aural
production choices for scripts and production ideas
Justifies selections of text, interpretations, and visual
and aural artistic choices (e.g., situation, action,
direction, design)
Communicates directorial choices for improvised or
scripted scenes
Organizes and conducts rehearsals for informal or
formal productions
from <http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/Benchmark.asp?SubjectID=12&StandardID=4>

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