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Drama and Literacy in the classroom Essay

The widespread saturation of non-literary narrative forms with which students interact in modern society has resulted in a distinct change in the methods and means of literacy skills and education. Researches have discovered that advantages exist for students who are enrolled in cross-discipline curriculums and specific evidence exists to show that the use of drama within a classroom setting provides and ample boost to the educational experiences and efficacy of students.

The TES has reported on research from Durham University which found that primary pupils’ academic performance may improve if their schools devote time to drama. Children from inner-London primaries achieved better than expected results in maths and reading tests after their schools took part in an outreach project run by the National Theatre. ” (Literacy Trust) Such a boost is the result of the multifaceted levels of engagement and interactivity that drama provides for students.

In addition to boosting literacy and math skills, researches have discovered that drama also enhances speaking and listening skills, which, in turn, enhance performances across the spectrum of scholastic activity: “drama can be a powerful tool to develop children’s speaking and listening skills: National Theatre children learned to speak more clearly and listen more attentively than their matches. ” (Literacy Trust)

Other cited benefits are: children who participated in drama in the classroom reported an increased enjoyment of school, higher self-esteem and self-confidence, a clearer ability to set and meet goals, and an enhanced understanding and interest in the creative arts: “When drama is used in literature-based reading programs, it often remains as simulated role play to recall and/or provide an alternative ending for all or part of a story. In order for a drama activity to enhance both literary and literacy development, the activities must engage the children in a thorough reading of the story.

” (Hertzberg, 1998) The success of drama-enhanced curriculums may be connected to human brain function, thus demonstrating an organic merit to the dramatic form as a teaching technique and educational aid. “Education is now beginning to take account of recent research into the way the brain works and the ways in which children learn and to relate this to the teaching and learning of today’s curriculum. The result is likely to be an increase in creative and multi-sensory approaches to teaching, linked to clearly defined learning objectives.

“(Neelands, Baldwin & Fleming, 2003, p. 4) Because drama requires participation in group-work and interaction with sets of individuals all working toward a shared goal, text-work through dramatic readings and performances, “creates a sense of shared ownership through which children can investigate and develop characters, fill the gaps left in the text, reveal the subtext, and use their imaginations to bridge the divide between writer and reader, integrating and encompassing all aspects of literacy.

(Neelands, Baldwin, and Fleming 5) Perhaps most importantly of all, the participation in drama encourages students to engage with texts emotionally, intellectually, and with a vested interest and connection to the material which seems to be absent from traditional learning methods. “Drama creates motivation for students to participate and facilitates students’ responses in reading instruction[… ]dramatization is a source of scaffolding for emergent readers by providing rich background experiences for future reading[…

] dramatization leads students to develop symbolic representation, which is the same concept children require in order to understand the alphabetic principle. ” (Lin,2003). Other benefits certainly exist within the drama enhanced curriculum; only practice of the theoretic techniques and research will fully disclose the potential for this type of dynamic educational process. References Hertzberg, M. (1998). Theory into Practice: Using Drama to Enhance Literacy Development.

Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 21(2), 159+. Neelands, J. , Baldwin, P. , & Fleming, K. (2003). Teaching Literacy through Drama: Creative Approaches. London: RoutledgeFalmer. www. literacytrust. org. uk 3-31-07, accessed 4-9-07. http://www. literacytrust. org. uk/Database/drama. html#test Lin,Chia-Hui. “Literacy Instruction through Communicative and Visual Arts” The Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication Digest #186 12-03, Accessed 4-10-07. http://reading. indiana. edu/ieo/digests/d186. html


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