I recently finished taking a summer course at CUNY City College’s Theatre Education Department as an elective with Professor Sobha Kavanakudiyil. I had an idea as to what the course was going to involve, but had no idea how much I would learn, nor how much it would influence my classroom assessments, learning activities, and increase engagement in the following school year.
Many times as teachers we aim for direct instruction, reading, writing, reflection-none involving any “get-up and move” activities as forms of students demonstrating/applying learning. As teachers we also fear a disruptive classroom, a loss of control, as well as being questioned by administration and other colleagues as to what meaning our instruction contains. I learned of over a dozen FUN activities that all measure learning, increase engagement, and involve ALL students. The activities assist with student-to-student bonding and teacher-to- student bonding, as well as some life and college-readiness skills like memorization, focus, eye contact, and teamwork.
I was sold on these skills from the first day of the course. It was a challenge for me as an introverted person to act out freely some of the activities that were practiced in the course. I couldn’t help thinking of the shy students, the English Language Learners (ELL), students with learning disabilities and those with below grade-level academic skills, who would benefit immensely from expressing their content-knowledge through theatre skills. Most of the activities do not require art materials. Many are games requiring one or two objects. As the teacher grows more comfortable applying and understanding the concepts of theatre skills the easier it will be to use more elaborate activities.
I recommend the book Creative Drama in the Classroom 8th edition (2006) by Nellie McCaslin. This text contains several activities teachers can use in the classroom as well as how to apply them to your subject area, grade, and student learning styles.
Tableau Theatre activity in the classroom (Video)
Theatre Education Benchmarks (Standards)