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25th November 2005 at 00:00
Teaching Classroom Drama and Theatre: Practical Projects for Secondary Schools

By Martin Lewis and John Rainer; Taylor and Francis pound;35

Martin Lewis and John Rainer's book is an effective, practical set of projects for teachers suitable for key stage 34. This step-by-step guide successfully develops students' understanding of theatrical forms and processes through the "practical classroom tradition of drama teaching". With a clearly defined structure these two components are brought together in eight units that cover a range of topics - urban legends, displaced people, Lilliput, the White Rose and more. These units have been skilfully developed from a range of stimuli, some of which are from obscure sources, which makes this a refreshing exploration for both teacher and student.

The book has a very useful assessment framework that covers conceptual knowledge and understanding, personal and social learning and performance skills, all with clearly identified paths of progression. The range of assessment templates is very comprehensive and a useful tool for both teacher and students, as information can be gathered over time ensuring that the assessment process remains both informative and manageable. This focus on assessment is very helpful as it describes the expected outcomes for the individual and in addition outlines the roles and responsibilities for the group as a whole.

Each unit comes with lesson plans, resources and photocopiable materials and a map that identifies activities and associated resource sheets. The authors do not intend this process to be prescriptive; there is a subtle balance of teacher direction and student exploration with plenty of scope within the materials to be flexible. This is a most useful resource for planning, not only offering a very stimulating set of activities but providing a clear and effective model for developing teachers' own schemes of work.

As the units progress, students are introduced to a range of roles and situations, enabling them to explore each theme from a number of perspectives. The units encourage them to present to a range of audiences, gradually developing their theatrical skills. Storytelling, scripting for television and film, interpretation, current issues, defining the relationship between performer and audience, satire and comedy are well represented giving ample opportunity for students to practise their skills.

In addition, there is a significant amount of graduated challenge for pupils in the shape of reading, research, development of thinking skills and use of stimuli.

This book enables teachers to teach at the heart of both theatrical concepts and "the essentially student-centred, process oriented and participatory character of the best drama teaching". It offers a wealth of material, which has the potential to engage pupils with a range of abilities. The structure provides clear lesson objectives and paths for progression in a subject that is sometimes hard to assess. This publication will prove invaluable in any drama classroom.

Karen Wilson Karen Wilson is teacher adviser for drama in the Birmingham Advisory and Support Service

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