While all forms of drama can help children to develop their reading and writing skills, we begin this session by taking a look at the more structured, scripted approach of reader’s theatre.
In reader’s theatre, a teacher takes a narrative and turns it into a script, with the class then discussing how best to deliver this in a performance. It’s not a radical, new interpretation but a process that gives pupils a clearer understanding of the issues and themes in a story. The key is children’s decision making in selecting pitch, tone and volume, and movement and gesture when it comes to the performance, and how these actions convey understanding of the text. It doesn’t just have to be applied to prose either, and Ruth walks us though how it can work just as well with poetry.
The second technique to be explored is Whoosh - a dramatic tool commonly used by the Royal Shakespeare Company. This involves sitting the class in a circle, reading a narrative and pausing the story at key points, at which time a group of children are invited into the circle to recreate the scene as a freeze frame. Other pupils are then asked to consider and make improvements to what they can see. To show how this works in practice, we look at the example of a Whoosh for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
To help make sure drama in the classroom is a success, Ruth finishes by outlining a useful set of rules that allow for ‘structured fun’
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Former headteacher Ruth is now an independent education advisor, supporting schools, trusts and other organisations across the UK. She is currently chair of the National Association of Advisors in English (NAAE), an associate consultant for the National Literacy Trust (NLT) and a member of The United Kingdom Literacy Association's (UKLA) awards and members committee.
About the Course
Ruth demonstrates a range of drama and role-play teaching approaches for Year 1-Year 6, showing how important drama is in connecting children to narrative by eliciting personal responses as well as supporting children in developing a deeper understanding of the relationships between characters, making inferences from their actions.