Squirrel sent me this article and I'm posting it because I think it offers some really good ideas for "activating" students. Especially relevant for summer camp where you can do more things like this, have more leeway......... I've tried many of these drama / Total physical response ideas and they work!!! Has anyone ever done full plays/skits? See this page for more ideas! Also all our videos in this category.
What can drama do for you?
by Ken Wilson
In June, I was lucky enough to join TESOL Greece members on their end-of-year visit to Santorini. While we were there, the teachers very kindly agreed to act as guinea pigs for a set of classroom drama activities, which I entitled What Can Drama Do For You?
Although the activities were ones which I have used before, this time I gave them a new slant. Many teachers are a little uncertain about drama activities, thinking that they will be difficult to do or will require lots of extra work.
I decided to show participants how drama could be a tool that makes their lives easier in the classroom. I think there are five ways in which this can happen, and I provided one or two examples to demonstrate each one.
1. Drama can make your class pay attention
In a 45-minute lesson, at least half the class will start day-dreaming after about 17 or 18 minutes. This is normal and nothing to be ashamed of for teacher or student! A quick change of focus will put this right:
(a) Standing up and breathing
You can simply ask the class to stand up. This will bring them all back to the class with a jolt! Then ask them to take some deep breaths -- some of them won't have done this since the lesson started. They can then exhale, practising a sound that you have given them. They can breathe out, and make the sound demonstrate some kind of emotion: enthusiasm, annoyance, disbelief.
(b) Door window
This is a noisy activity which helps the class wake up. Point at various simple items round the room and tell them to shout out the word. “Door! Window!” Then tell them that when you point at, for example, window, they have to shout one of the other words. Not as easy as it sounds, but safe fun. No one will be embarrassed.
2. Drama can bring coursebook material to life
(a) Coursebook dialogue
Coursebook dialogues are bland and predictable, or even worse, they try to be funny. Put a dialogue on the OHP. This way, you can show it one line at a time and get the class to predict the next line. It doesn't matter if they're wrong. Congratulate them on their imagination. Then you can get them to do the conversation in pairs (most coursebook dialogues have only two characters) and change a few words here and there. Make sure they have only a limited respect for the printed word.
(b) Isaac Newton discovers the law of gravitation
Students can do an impromptu acting out of scenes from the book to make them more memorable. The example I chose was from information about Isaac Newton from my book Prospects. One student played the tree, one played the apple and one (a girl) played Isaac Newton.
3. Drama can help your students relax and have fun
(a) What time is it?
Five students stand in a line and shout the following dialogue at each other:
What time is it?
What time is it?
I don't know!
Well, ask her!
It continues down the line and the last person says what time it is. The angry shouters have to say thank you in a big and sincere way.
(b) Doctors and nurses
I read a story which contained the following words quite often: doctor/s, nurse/s, patient/s, hospital, said, sorry. There were six groups, each one had one of these words. When they heard their word in the story, they had to stand up and sit down very quickly. Then they read the story and added their own details and acted the parts of the characters -- with no preparation time! If anyone wants a copy of the story, email me.
4. Drama can give you a break
(a) Tourist guide
The teacher hangs a series of postcards of a city (any city) on the walls. The students get into groups and visit each postcard. All you have to do is encourage one or more of them to pretend to be a tourist guide. The groups ask questions about the buildings: When was it built? etc., and the guide answers. It is not important how accurate the information is.
(b) Who's that?
The whole class imagine they are at a party where everyone is famous and successful. Working in groups, they invent high-profile lives for others. They then mingle and ask the others about their lives. An “accept and add” activity. Homework activity can revise reported speech.
5. Drama can release your students' creativity
Students write a statement, a question and an exclamation. All the items are put in a box. Two students then sit with the box between them. The rest of the class chooses roles for the two students (eg: boss and secretary, pop star and fan etc.) and a place where they are (eg: office, park etc.) and a subject for them to talk about (eg: the weather etc.). The two students then start talking. When the conversation wanes, someone in the class shouts 'Fish!' and one of the two has to pick a line of conversation out of the box. They must then incorporate the line, unchanged, into their conversation.
Three students sit in a row in front of the rest of the class. The class decides on a topic that
the three are experts about (e.g. cooking). The class then asks the 'experts' questions about cooking. The experts answer one word at a time. Student A: I ... Student B: think ...Student C:
that ...etc. Repeat with different students and a different topic.
I also believe that when it comes to mixing drama and esl, it is good to lean on the side of ad libing. Meaning, give the kids a chance to adapt and personalize the script.