Clowne Junior School
Using Drama In The Classroom
Clowne Junior School is based in a small ex-mining town in North East Derbyshire. The school runs ages 7 to 11 and will be dealing with UK Key Stages 1, 2 and 3. Kim Glasswell is a class teacher who uses drama as a regular part of his teaching. There is no specific drama policy in the school - or any UK junior schools now - so what we are seeing here is the use of the discipline simply as a tool for learning in a range of areas.
The following are some examples of the way Kim has integrated drama into his teaching over the past year or so. It demonstrates the meaningful way it can be used to extend children's experience in many areas; not only providing richer learning experiences all round, but also keeping drama alive within the school.
Class reads the opening two scenes of a play set in Victorian times concerning two orphans and the different characters they meet on the street. People are charitable, indifferent or hostile to them. Then they are approached by a suspect character who promises them shelter and food in return for work.
Children write their own opening scenes as groups, keeping to the same basic theme. These are then discussed, worked on and then completed as small plays with endings of the children's choice.
Plays are then performed with props, generally with lines learnt, in front of the rest of the year group.
Work done on Victorian children at work in coal mines is followed up after a break. The tables in the classroom have been rearranged into a 'U' shape with certain tables on their sides to block the way forward at the corners. The curtains are shut and the lights are turned off. A helper is stationed at the end of the 'U'.
The class is lined up outside without knowing that this has been done. They are told that they are going to experience what it was like to work in the dark, cramped conditions of a Victorian coat mine. They are told to close their eyes and to use their hands to guide their way.
The teacher and a second helper guide each child into the room and get them down on hands and knees at the entrance to the 'U'. Each child then feels their way along the tunnel of table-legs, steered around the corners by the tables on their sides. When they exit they are sat quietly in the middle of the room to watch the others going through.
This experience is then used as a basis for story work.
Children make masks based on a viewing of the good and bad fairies in the animated A Midsummers Nights Dream. Suitable pieces of music are used for drama / movement work. Children are to demonstrate waking, moving, some interaction and then descending to rest again.
At the start of work on the Tudors the pyramid structure of society at the time is demonstrated by building a model using children. The monarch sits on a chair on top of a table, with a paper crown trying to look regal, barons sit around the tables edge with an air of importance whilst the lower orders stand about them with the peasants sitting on the floor.
During work on the solar system the class goes into the hall and works in groups of about six to make moving demonstrations of the Sun, Earth and the Moon. They show how the Earth goes around the Sun, the Moon goes around the Earth, and that the Earth is also spinning on its own axis. Night and day are then shown by having two children as the Earth, back to back, and as they turn, whoever is facing away from the Sun nods their head down as if asleep.
The children are encouraged to make their own models first and then good features are pointed out.