Three-in-one Approach to Teaching Drama

I teach Drama; this class can be a great equalizer when it comes to student success because it is malleable to a variety of skill sets. Every student can find success in drama because it works with many different facets of learning. This is my teaching philosophy when it comes to student learning: I must provide a variety of venues for each student to learn in a way that suits them best and to find success in the class. To do this, we often read plays; we analyze them; we perform them. In this praxis, students are expected to master a variety of skills that are best learned through a utilization of three theories of knowledge, Information Processing, Sociocultural Learning, and Constructivism (H2, O2, P2).

At the start of any project the best theory of knowledge that reaches toward my teaching philosophy is Information Processing. Students must turn their minds into computers. They are asked to memorize and encode the information of the play as they study their lines and seek to understand the sequence of events in the context of the character motivations. This is a simple input and output scenario. Several methods are utilized to memorize the text; regardless of the method it is mechanical and generally reliable. Students are able to retain the information so that they can proceed to the next step.

The intermediary step of rehearsal utilizes Sociocultural Learning. Students are expected to experiment with their characters. They do this through inward speech, as they reflect on their own understanding of the character, and outer speech as they discuss their parts and the play with their peers. Also included in this theory of learning, as it applies to my work in the classroom, are the verbal observations that I give to each student. In class, we will often rehearse the play and follow it with feedback. The feedback is often verbal and often issues a challenge to each actor. These challenges build on the success of that rehearsal and offer an opportunity for each student to take their work “to the next level.” The students must work together to achieve the cooperative goal of performing in the play and are interdependent. As I will often say in rehearsal, “we succeed or fail – together.”

The final step of producing a play utilizes Constructivism. Each student must build on both knowledge from prior performance projects and their work from rehearsal. In this assimilation of knowledge students have the opportunity to move into a finished product. Leaders in the group can rise and lead from their past experience. This leadership is one prime example of how a student may organize their information into various nodes. By giving peer instruction they take students through the process as they move toward the finished product. In this final step of taking the production to final performance, I take a hands-off approach. I help, as I am needed. However, I rather that the students take on the problem-based lesson. In seeking to complete the production they must experiment with the content and discover their path to success.

Over the three steps of working on a play, students have the opportunity to learn across three theories of knowledge, Information Processing, Sociocultural Learning, and Constructivism.

Author: David Orace Kelly

International Teacher - Arts and Education Leader

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