The play's the thing

23rd June 2000 at 01:00
DEVELOPING LANGUAGE AND LITERACY THROUGH DRAMA. By Suzi Clipson-Boyles

Reva Klein looks at studies on classroom seating, music appreciation and drama from a new book on putting findings into practice

Children who experience a subject through drama demonstrate a deeper understanding and write about it in a more developed way than those who cover it through discussion.

Small groups of seven to 11-year-olds were divided into two sets to measure the influence of drama on their imaginative writing. One set was involved in five drama sessions with their teacher, covering a number of different themes including litter, outsiders and adventure stories. The other set discussed the same themes. They were iven the task of writing about each session.

When the writing was evaluated, it was found that the drama group wrote nearly 25 per cent more than the discussion group. It used more descriptive vocabulary, described issues with greater complexity, expressed opinions more and, overall, met the writing task more successfully than the discussion group. In three of the writing tasks, however, the discussion group did as well or better than the drama group.

While carefully planned discussion activities are valuable, drama can be even more effective in stimulating thinking and creative writing. And, as many teachers have discovered, its flexibility offers many opportunities in the literacy hour.


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