Electrifying drama

7th January 2005 at 00:00
To try a more kinaesthetic approach with my Year 7 students, I organised for them to put on mini plays to stimulate their creative writing. The work also linked in to the history of science.

Having learned how electricity is generated, we discussed how important this discovery was. We started by imagining what our classroom would be like without it. There would be no projector or overhead projector, computers or data-loggers, power packs and circuits, heating, lights or bell.

We considered ways in which we had already relied on electricity that day, by using alarm clocks, kettles and so on. Eventually, we chose scenarios we felt illustrated the impact electricity has had on our lives:

* a bath-time routine;

* a breakfast scene;

* communication;

* medicine;

* an evening's entertainment;

* "cops and robbers".

I split the class into groups of five, separating any "characters", and ensuring an even mix of gender and ability. Each group had a prompt sheet, which I had prepared in advance, to give them ideas about props and scene organisation. Their brief was to prepare a five-minute play reflecting a "before and after electricity" theme. They had about half an hour, during which time they also decided what to bring in from home.

During the next lesson I gave them 15 minutes to practise their scene using their props - musical instruments, rolling pins for truncheons, bin-liners for police capes, an oil lamp, and an embroidery kit. Each group then performed their play.

Their homework was to write a poem or a diary extract. The acting part was fun and done surprisingly well, but it was the creative writing that really impressed me. This ranged from imaginative accounts of maids in old country houses, presented on tea-stained, worn paper and tied with red ribbon, to rhyming verse produced using desktop-publishing software. It was a great opportunity for the students to show off their creativity and ICT skills within a science framework.

Vickie Moncrief Advanced skills teacher in science, Warden Park School, West Sussex

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