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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?

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
(a) Fishbowl
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.

(b) Experts
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.

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Perfect timing with this one .... I have just found out that drama is the likely theme for the summer camp I will do at my school in this vacation ... It fits in well with a drama contest the school will hold next semester.
Likely to be either 2 hours a day over 2 weeks or 4 hours a day over 1 week ... Still being worked out ... If anyone else has any ideas / websites / names of good source booksI would be very interested in finding out ... I have some ideas but would very much welcome some more ... I have done drama at elementary level but not middle school level ... and don't have the resources I used then with me here ...I need to find some plays that have not too difficult language but are appropriate in terms of theme for middle school. If anyone knows good books I would be very interested in adding some to my library ...

Jennifer
I have another collection of skits, one pagers that are short and can be used also. I'll look for them and attach or send a link.

Another thing to think about is getting the kids to actually write the script. I know it depends on the level and also this can be very time heavy and intensive.....but 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. Even taking a cartoon (maybe even a Korean one, they all have their favourites or see my comic material in my teaching folder) and then having them adapt it into English and then dramatizing, would be a great activity for camp.

DD
I think Korean textbooks really lend themselves over to drama as native speakers are almost always given the dialogues to do. I like to take paddles (like ping pong paddles) and stick famous faces, like Britney spears on them. The kids love to pretend being famous people and you can just change the picture when you want to re-use them.

A popular book in Britain is sitautional English. This book contains useful sentences for different places such as the shop and the restaurant and the teacher is left to use them in whatever way they want. It is also very good for drama. I'll scan it and give it to Dave to put on the batcave.

You could also do the old 'whose line is it anyway' trick and play a movie with the sound turned down so the students have to create the dialouge.

Finally, my co-teacher last year used a book called do and understand which contained just pictures making up a story. The students must tell the story. That might also be good for drama. Another one to scan!
I was thinking of using short Mr Bean videos and having my high school students create a skit using similar situations (e.g. at the bus stop, in the library). Their level is pretty low, and I'm hoping that I can get three hours out of it--two classes of 1.5 hours. Should a skit/play have a language point (in this case complaints "Could you please...would you mind...") or should it be more focused on contextual dialog that spontaneously arises?
Oliver,

Yes, even with older kids, especially with those who are afraid to speak, puppets of any form are great. They need an "alter ego". I really wish I had done more drama and knew more and I am jealous of those teachers who are so good at it. Great empowering tool, both for language and just self. I taught grade 8 esl and twice a week did drama but not so successful, from what I remember :(
Here is that other file of plays I mentioned.

DD
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Speaking of Drama. Here is a neat video, I found at a site I use quite a bit to keep abreast of technology and what other teachers are doing.... http://techstories.edublogs.org Take a look, a neat inside look at one teacher's effort to bring drama to his school.
Also speaking of drama..... you won't use this in your classroom but it is really watchable. An example of real acting, storytelling. She even does a Korean American woman. Fascinating and find a lot more like this at www.ted.com

 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.

Thanks

master deepak ji

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