Drama Literacy Resource

Drama Literacy

 info@thedramastudio.com

 

After 3.5 years of tapping into childrens' love of Creative Drama to motivate and inspire them to read and write, we have produced a resource for teachers to use directly within their classrooms.

Many children struggle with Literacy, particularly writing and we found in our research that they often describe feeling overwhelmed by the technical aspects of it - the grammar, vocabulary, punctuation, spelling and content for creative work. Headteacher Ann Moore asked us if we could use Drama to help them overcome these barriers to learning and so the project began.

Our work at Canal View Primary School in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh was followed by a series of Pilot studies during 2021-2022 to enable teachers across Scotland to evaluate the resource. 

Highly positive Pilot evaluations have been returned to us and we have been further building it throughout the past year.

Schools are now implementing the lessons across the Primary stages and again we have had very positive feedback from both teachers and students.

We are Drama Studio teacher-owners Julie and Louise and we present the Drama Literacy lessons by video link.

Using in- role, improvisation and key drama techniques to introduce popular topics and screative storylines, we prompt pause points throughout the videos for an Over To You! This is the time for the students to enact the scenes for themselves, adapting them to incorporate their own ideas and to do the embedded written tasks where appropriate and to write their own stories.

They will then share their work to the class or to a partner re-engaging with the presentation and physical aspects of Drama.

IN SUMMARY THE FORMAT IS DRAMA>LITERACY EMBED >DRAMA (SHARE/PRESENT)

It is this FULL CIRCLE format that is the KEY ELEMENT that propels Literacy motivation and raises Attainment as students see Literacy tasks not simply as an Add-On but an intergral part of the lessons.  

                 

                   THE FORMAT IN PRACTICE                                  

Julie and Louise Present 

Literacy Thumbnail

 Students Watch   

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Students Enact Scenes 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Students Share Writing

Park Bench P7

*KEY TO SUCCESS*

Consistently exposing your students to the format, reinforcing their interactive skills and making sure the Literacy elements are always EMBEDS and not simply add-ons is key, even when a writing task is at the end of the Drama Lesson. 

Click here to read the views of teachers and their students who have been using the Drama Literacy Teaching Videos    

 

Submit the form below if you or your school would like to trial Drama Literacy and we will give you access to sample lessons.

Drama Literacy Trial

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 AVAILABLE NOW IN DRAMA LITERACY 

 

The Resource consists of 3 Modules for use throughout the Academic Year currently available to use with Primary 2-Primary 7. 

This year we are completing the Primary 7 Content and aiming to Pilot for Primary 1.

 

You can see what's available in each Module below.

 

READ BELOW MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT HOW THIS RESOURCE HAS BEEN CREATED AND THE STORY BEHIND IT 

Background To The Resource
 
 

The Development Of The Resource 

 

Myself and my colleague Louise Arbuckle have piloted our Drama Literacy Resource with Scottish volunteer teachers of Primary 3 and Primary 5, (years 2 and 4) in the Summer Term of 2021 and another Pilot (teachers of stages 3-7) -in the Winter Term 2021.

Prior to lockdown we had been working for 3.5 years of work at Canal View Primary School in Wester Hailes Edinburgh introducing Drama Literacy. We had been asked to tap into the students' love of Drama and to use this to help them with writing and reading elements of Literacy. 

It was an incredible learning experience for everyone involved but so dynamic that we we felt we had to share it and to trial our findings with other teachers, hence the Pilot. 

Teachers taking part in the Pilots have been  given access to Video Lessons delivered by us. The students watch the video and receive detailed instructions for their "Over To You" activities throughout. Teachers pause the video when the class has to do the activity and organise their classes to get started.

Students are also given writing tasks about the Drama lesson or to use within it. For younger students this is very often linked to drawing pictures and writing simple captions. They usually enjoy these activities, talking in pairs and to the class about their work, continuing the spoken element, adding value to it and developing a good and positive attitude towards writing.

Upper school lessons also embed writing tasks right within the activities themselves, demonstrating purpose and real reasons to write. From our work at Canal View this interactive type of written work was hugely beneficial in changing attitudes to writing and inspiring children to write.

Below you will find details and examples of the resource, pilot evaluations where you can read how teachers found using it and the reaction of their students!

Ultimately we want to build a responsive resource for students and teachers which uses classroom Drama to impact on student attainment in writing and reading as well as in talking and listening.

If you have any questions about the resource please get in touch - info@thedramastudio.com

Julie McDonald

      

 

Teacher Pilot Evaluations

Evaluations June 2022

      Upper School Evaluations      

Lower School  Evaluations 

 

 

We also asked for ongoing informal feedback which can often be just as valuable as a more formal assesssment. Her you can see the ongoing photo Tweets, comments/feedback emailed to us and photographs. Click on the links below to view:

Upper School Informal Feedback   

 Lower School Informal Feedback

Lorne Street School - Edinburgh -  Evaluation

 

You can also see video clips and photos on our Twitter page   https://twitter.com/dramastudioedin

 

Summary Of Key Points Made From Feedback On The Pilot Lessons So Far

1. It is user friendly for both teachers and students. Students have been very enthusiastic about the lessons and teachers have found the format easy to use.
 
 
2. Teachers have found that the engagement with the Drama activities has carried over into writing activities which is exactly what has been intended.  
 
 
3. Outgoing and shy students alike have responded well to the format and settled into it. It has also been reported that students with behavioural issues have coped fairly well as have mixed age groups in composite classes. It has been mentioned that after the Covid months the activity has linked well to Health and Wellbeing. Children have liked the routine and format of the presentation.
 
 
 
4. Teachers have enjoyed the opportunity of being able to observe individual students during the sessions.
 
 
 
5. Time -wise, some teachers have completed both Drama and written Literacy tasks at one sitting while others have split the lessons or re-capped on another day to do the written aspects.
 
6. Some teachers have reported internet connection issues on occasion but most people have been able to continue to complete the lessons. 
 
 
 
7. Many teachers have remarked that they have felt more confident to approach teaching Drama in the classroom for themselves and have tried out their own ideas as a result. In this way they have mentioned that format naturally embeds a teacher training element to it. 
 
 
 
 
8. Teachers have asked for more classroom games which we can provide with future lessons.
 
 
 
 
9. Teachers have asked if we can produce more Drama Literacy lessons like these.
 
 
 
While we are delighted to have received such positive and insightful responses to these Pilot lessons, the background work that preceded these is worth considering so that teachers can see how their students are likely to progress. 
 
 
THE WORK AT CANAL VIEW PRIMARY SCHOOL
 
We worked will all the classes at some point over this period and took extensive film footage. We also had a "study group class" that we worked with throughout so that we could measure progress closely with one group to chart more specifically the impact of Drama intervention and writing attainment.
 
Below is sample footage of how this went from when we started with this particular class in Primary 3 (March 2017) until Primary 6 before lockdown set in. 
 
 
Study Group Starting Spring Term 2017 - Primary 3
 
 
 
 
Study Group In Primary 4 
 
                                                               
 The Body Topic -  Skeletons 
 
    

 

**A leap in Progress Made in P4 - Look at the writing in The Old Lighthouse story just over one year after the start up Troll stories in P3  with Drama intervention.**                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 
 
 
 
   Study Group In Primary 5
 
 
 
 
Testing Our Video Lessons For The First Time With P5 Study Group and P7

 

In addition to the weekly sessions Louise and I provided at Canal View we also sent class teachers Video Lessons similar to those used in the Drama Literacy Pilot so that we could test this kind of resource and see how teachers would find it (without us actually being in the room - apart from on screen) and how it would impact on writing. Below is the writing from these video lessons from our Study group in  Primary 5 and also from another P7 class.

                           Video Example and P5 Study Group                               

      

Click here for teacher evaluations of these Video Lessons   

 

P7 Evaluation Of Park Bench Video Lesson  

Student Writing From Park Bench P7

 

Writing Case Studies From Our Work At Canal View PS

 

 

Primary 6 Drama Literacy Study Group March 2020

In March 2020 just before lockdown we did a Cold Write with the P6 Class that we have been working with as a Control Study since they were in P3 as part of assessing our Drama Literacy and Attainment implications.

We briefed the children in advance that they would be writing their own piece the following week so that they had time to think about their content.

We asked them to think about what makes a good story/account from the reader's point of view and to recall all the exercises we had been doing over the years in Drama to help with this.

We discussed good ways of using words and description, drawing the reader in, surprising them, using humour etc.

The content would be completely theirs but they could use ideas from Drama stories and from their own real life events.

The story could a personal account like a Diary or as a narrative, a letter or whatever form they choose.

We explained that the teachers would not be able to help them with ideas and could only encourage them and take a look at how they were doing.

The students were very motivated by the idea and on the day of the writing they were all excited and focused in a way that neither we nor the class teacher had expected.

We only managed to complete with some of the children as many were absent at the time due to Covid issues but here is what we got. Some of the pieces are quite dark and tell what is almost certainly a personal story.

The engagement in this task was like nothing we had seen before. They were all very committed to it, so much so that one days when Louise and I weren't there they opted to carry on with the stories rather that do other activities that would normally have seemed more appealing to them.

Click Here To View Writing From That Cold Write    (Note that some pieces were incomplete due to Covid closure)

 

Below is some video footage from that Cold Write which shows how focused the children were

 
 
 
Canal View Teacher Comments On Our Work There In The Video Below
 
 
In 2018 the Canal View teachers identified the Drama Literacy work we had been doing there over only one year was a key player in the School Improvement Plan.