Chloe Nordick

DOING LITERACY
Art is the literacy of the heart -Elliot Eisner
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Does Creative Drama Improve Literacy? Yes It Does! | English Language Curriculum - Where does Creative Drama fit in? | How does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Reading? | How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Speaking? | How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Writing? | How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Media Literacy? | Lesson Plans | Assessing the Students with Creative Drama | References


Does Creative Drama Improve Literacy? Yes It Does!learn.JPG


Literacy involves much more than just reading and writing. The curriculum document for Elementary Arts states that:

Literacy is defined as the ability to use language and images in rich and varied forms to read, write, listen, view, represent, and think critically about ideas. It involves the capacity to access, manage, and evaluate information; to think imaginatively and analytically; and to communicate thoughts and ideas effectively. Literacy includes critical thinking and reasoning to solve problems and make decisions related to issues of fairness, equity, and social justice. P.51

Creative drama goes hand in hand with improving literacy skills. So why are so many teachers hesitant to incorporate drama in their English classrooms? Not all teachers have experience or an abundance of knowledge regarding theatre arts. However, the reality is that using drama in the classroom does not require a background in theatre. Creative drama can and should be applied to any area of curriculum, regardless of the teaching subject. Podlozny stated that classroom drama is used as a way of supporting the curriculum and is an integral part of the curriculum. Creative drama improves literacy in all aspects.
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The first step in helping a child improve their literacy skills is to motivate them to learn. This can easily be accomplished by using drama as a tool for teaching. The use of drama as a teaching tool is based on the simple premise that an involved child is an interested child, and interested child will learn, and drama directly involves the child (Smith, 1972). Drama provides an outlet in which students can take risks through performance, explore symbolism in texts, and express relations to characters and situations. In short, it allows them to use their feelings, their thoughts, and their imaginations in order to express themselves, all while improving their language skills. Wagner states that drama has a positive effect on personal attitudes often associated with language growth: self-confidence, self-concept, self-actualization, empathy, helping behavior and cooperation. In an article entitled “Doing Literature: Using Drama to Build Literacy”, Jennifer Catney McMaster states that:

Drama is an invaluable tool for educators because it is one of the few vehicles of instruction that can support every aspect of literacy development. Drama encompasses all four of the language arts modalities and is an effective medium for building, decoding, vocabulary, syntactic, discourse, and metacognitive knowledge. P574


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English Language Curriculum - Where does Creative Drama fit in?

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Teachers can no longer use the excuse that they do not have time to incorporate fun drama activities into their classroom, it is a requirement! The Ontario Curriculum documents for English Language include a variety of dramatic activities that are labeled as specific expectations which must be met. These expectations can be found throughout the curriculum documents for elementary and secondary grades. This should come as no surprise. The arts are an integral part of the learning process for students. In fact, English Language teaching should be labeled as "Arts Infused English Language Teaching" ! Incorporating drama in the classroom is not only a useful way to get students excited and interested in learning, it enhances their learning. There are countless creative drama activities that teachers could use to assist literacy learning. Below are some specific expectations taken from the grade 7 English Curriculum document followed by suggestions of fun activities that could be used in order to meet those expectations. These examples could be used to meet the curriculum expectations of any grade in order to help students improve their literacy skills!



How does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Reading?


CURRICULUM
Language - Grade 7 – Reading – Reading Fluency
Overall Expectations
3. use knowledge of words and cueing systems to read fluently
Specific Expectations
3.3 read appropriate texts with expression and confidence, adjusting reading strategies and reading rate to match the form and purpose (e.g., read in role with suitable emphasis and phrasing to dramatize a text for an audience)

Research shows that memorization and repetition of a text build vocabulary and fluency. Not many students enjoyimagesCAY38FS4.jpg reading an informational text over and over nor do they enjoy memorizing words from a dictionary. However, if students are offered the opportunity to present a text in front of their classmates, they would be eager to memorize their lines. As well, they would most likely analyze the text and verify the meaning of words they are not familiar with in order to portray the character or idea as accurately as possible. The students would be building their reading proficiency using creative drama!

The curriculum expectations can be met by using this method for studying Shakespeare, poems, novels, scripts or any other kind of text used in class. Allow the students to portray different characters for different audiences.

Personal note: My love for Shakespeare flourished when I was allowed to create a full musical representation of Romeo & Juliet in grade 10 and then another musical for Macbeth in grade 11. We created an original screenplay, original musical score (including original lyrics!), and an intermission with a dance number. Give the students the freedom to explore the texts in their own creative way!

The video below illustrates how students can use a Tableau in order to demonstrate their comprehension of a text.







How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Speaking?


CURRICULUM
Language - Grade 7 – Oral Communication – Purpose
Overall Expectations
2. use speaking skills and strategies appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes;
Specific Expectations
2.1 identify a range of purposes for speaking and explain how the purpose and intended audience might influence the choice of speaking strategies (e.g., to present conclusions about a research project through dramatization, a role play, or a monologue; to interest classmates in a social issue through a debate; to solve problems or investigate issues and ideas through a group brainstorming session)

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Oral Communication is a key component in our ability to make ourselves understood. Using creative drama is essential in order to help students understand the importance of oral communication and the various purposes of speech which determine the choice of words, intonation, rhythm, and volume one might use.

In class, students could practice using different styles ofspeaking.jpg speech which would be appropriate to a given situation. For example, students could participate in a role playing exercise in situations where speech would be significant: news broadcast, interview, presidential campaign, graduation, or wedding ceremony for example. Or the students could also use the role playing exercise to portray a character from a novel or short story.


How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Writing?


CURRICULUM
Language - Grade 7 – Writing – Form
Overall Expectations
2. draft and revise their writing, using a variety of informational, literary, and graphic forms and stylistic elementsappropriate for the purpose and audience
Specific Expectations
2.1 write complex texts of different lengths using a wide range of forms (e.g., a fictional narrative about a historical event to dramatize material studied; a mystery story modelled on the structures and conventions of the genre)
Some students find it intimidating to write their own texts.
It is often challenging for students to write informational texts orwriting.JPG essays. If students are encouraged to write creative texts, they can improve their writing skills in a creative yet effective way. Students can dramatize a historical event learned in class by writing a fictional narrative instead of listing facts. Or students can write stories which reflect concepts that they have learned in class. Students can also write scripts, screenplays, or even create short stories through graphic novels.
wewrotetogether.jpgStudents can also work in groups to develop a story, play, or any other kind of text. By working in groups, they develop their organization, brainstorming, and collaborating skills while having fun creating a dramatic text.





How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Media Literacy?


CURRICULUM
Language - Grade 7 – Media Literacy – Producing Media Texts
Overall Expectations
3. create a variety of media texts for different purposes and
audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques
Specific
Expectations
2.1 identify a range of purposes for speaking and explain how the purpose and intended audience might influence the choice of speaking strategies (e.g., to present conclusions about a research project through dramatization, a role play, or a monologue; to interest classmates in a social issue through a debate; to solve problems or investigate issues and ideas through a group brainstorming session)
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Using Creative Drama is a great approach for students to better understand Media Literacy. Students can learn how to understand and decode various types of media through drama activities like role play, class debate, presentations, or even creating their own advertisement or show to demonstrate purposes of speaking, points of view, and target audiences. There are many class activities which could incorporate creative drama in regards to media. Students could make a film or commercial, a news broadcast (live or on video), or demonstrate a live political debate.



Lesson Plans

Here is a sample of Lesson Plans taken from LessonPlansPage.com that use drama in order to improve literacy :

Title - Using Drama to Improve Language & Literacy
By - Pat Lavigne
Primary Subject - Language Arts
Grade Level - K - 6
Suggested Time - 60 minutes each

Using Drama to enhance Language and Literacy

Lesson Plan to Act Out a Story Read as a Group
    • recall portions of a story,
    • act out portions of a story,
    • illustrate portions of a story,
    • improve reading comprehension, and
    • improve reading fluency.

Lesson Plan to Create a New Story
    • recall portions of a story,
    • act out portions of a story,
    • illustrate portions of a story,
    • improve reading comprehension, and
    • improve reading fluency.

    1. What is the basic theme of the story -- create a title that depicts this.
    2. What is the problem? To help determine the problem with kindergarten and first grade students, you may have to cue. Asking "What happened? UH OH!!! What happened?" will usually generate great problems. Add this to the 3rd block in the k/1 story plan.
    3. What is the solution,
    4. What events introduce the characters,
    5. What events help solve the problem,
    6. How does the story end?
    7. Write all of this on the chalk board, white board or overhead -- to enhance student participation, have students write this out. Using overhead transparencies assist small groups in developing their play because they can take the overhead for their group play into their small groups for the small group work. For older children, walk through as a group a story then have students write a play in small groups with a graphic organizer.





Assessing the Students with Creative Drama



Here are some suggestions on how you can incorporate the use of creative drama to effectively assess your students.

Assessments during activities in class:
  • Role Play: assess their understanding of characters or themes in novels or poems
  • Improvisation: assess their ability to vary the form of language used depending on various situations and audiences
  • Monologue or Dialogue presentation: asess their understanding of Shakespeare
  • Dramatization of a Poem: assess ability to interpret poems

Assessments for Units:
  • Newsbroadcast: assess their understand of point of view used in the media
  • Writing a screenplay: assess their knowledge of an event or era studied in class
  • Dramatization of a Research Project: assess their understanding of a particular topic
  • Creative Project for Poems/Shakespeare: assess their ability to interpret texts



References



Dale S. Rose, M. P. (2000). Imagery-Based Learning: Improving Reading Comprehension with Drama Techniques. The Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 94, No. 1 , 55-63.

Mcmaster, J. C. (1998). 'Doing' Literature:Using drama to build literacy. The Reading Teacher, Vol. 51, No.7 , 574-584.

Morton, B. K. (1973). Creative Drama - A Visit to Class. The English Journal, Vol. 62, No. 4 , 622-627.

Roe, E. P. (1977). Creative Drama Builds Proficiency in Reading. The Reading Teacher, Vol. 30, No. 4 , 383-387.

Stewig, J. W. (1972). Creative Drama and Language Growth. The Elementary School Journal, Vol. 72, No. 4 , 176-188.

Vail, J. W. (1985). The Relation between Creative Drama and Oral Language Growth. The Clearing House, Vol. 58, No. 6 , 261-264.

Williams, P. A. (1947). Creative Reading. The English Journal, Vol. 36, No.9 , 454-459.

Creativedrama.pdf

strengtheningverbalskillsthroughcreativedrama.pdf

Ontario English Language Curriculum

Lesson Plans Page




Does Creative Drama Improve Literacy? Yes It Does! | English Language Curriculum - Where does Creative Drama fit in? | How does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Reading? | How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Speaking? | How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Writing? | How Does Creative Drama Build Proficiency in Media Literacy? | Lesson Plans | Assessing the Students with Creative Drama | References