The Benefits of Using Drama Activities in the Classroom

The Benefits of Using Drama Activities in the Classroom
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  • 0:03 Drama in the Classroom
  • 0:48 Speaking and Listening
  • 2:37 Comprehension
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Teachers can use a variety of methods to promote learning in the classroom. This lesson outlines how drama can be a tool to help students develop speaking, listening, and comprehension skills.

Drama in the Classroom

When you think of drama, what comes to mind? High schoolers gossiping in the bathroom? Or perhaps your favorite suspenseful TV series? True, both of these can be considered dramatic, but there is a much more educational type of drama. Drama is any text written with the purpose of portraying a story through dialogue and typically intended to be performed in front of an audience. In drama, the conflicts and emotions of the characters are meant to be seen through the performance.

With this in mind, teachers can promote learning in the classroom by using various drama activities, which are those that use some sort of performance. These types of activities can promote the development of speaking, listening, and comprehension skills.

Speaking and Listening

Let's first discuss how to use drama in the classroom to help develop speaking and listening skills. Having highly developed speaking skills means one has the ability to verbally express one's thoughts in a clear manner. Listening skills are those needed to be able to hear speech and process the meaning. Using activities centered on some sort of performance will directly impact the development of both of these types of skills.

For example, a high school teacher covering a unit of Shakespeare's Hamlet could have students act out specific scenes from the play. The fact that the language in such a play is difficult will actually help promote the importance of clear expression and sharp listening. But what about an elementary teacher who will not cover such a complex play? This teacher could have a reader's theater activity where students read different roles for short skits.

Both types of performances center on speaking and listening skills. When a student takes a turn as the speaker, fluency and verbal pronunciation will be developed. On the other hand, the students who are listening will be processing the speech to interpret meaning. In addition, the strong speakers can also model proper speech to other students who might struggle with those skills. Pronunciation, natural pauses, and intonation of voice can all be learned through listening to other speakers.

Lastly, drama activities also help storytelling skills. Think about the last time a 5-year-old tried to tell you something that had happened. How clear was the story? Were a lot of important pieces missing? When a student has highly developed storytelling skills, the stories they tell are very clear without leaving out information. Drama activities will help to model how to tell a complete story which accomplishes a specific goal. Students will then learn to include those elements in their own stories in the future.

Comprehension

Another benefit to drama activities has to do with comprehension, or gaining an understanding of a text. Reading teachers devote much of their time to find various methods to develop comprehension skills in their students. Watching a performance is one way to do so.

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