We launched e-learning at the International School of Beijing in early February and here are the top five drama lessons that kids loved.
1. Drop a Pin on Your Life (social emotional learning through Drama Education)
Middle School Drama students began their e-learning journey by dropping a “pin” on their life.
I used the following prompts:
Write your name and physical location;
Share three feelings that you are experiencing right now;
Interview your parents and ask them - “Why did we choose to stay or leave Beijing?";
List three things that you are grateful for.
This check-in practice showed students that we cared about how they felt and what they thought during a time of crisis. While some families chose to stay in Beijing, we also had families who were either displaced or were evacuated from China.
This provided a safe space for students to share and empathize with each other. It also gave me insight into their location, circumstances, and stage of their emotional, mental and social wellbeing.
They noticed that amidst the feelings of anxiety, fear and uncertainty, there were still things that they could be grateful for. They realized that this was a shared experience and it moved them from feelings of loneliness and isolation to being a part of a community. I summarized the things that the kids shared with this WORD CLOUD:
Sixth grader Maximo wrote, "In drama I really liked it when we were asked questions about what and how we are doing, it makes me comfortable when I get to tell people how I feel."
I did this "Drop a Pin" practice from time to time to give students a space to process and share their thoughts and feelings. This activity received a very high engagement from the students.
2. Physical Theater and Vocal Warm-ups
Season three sports, events and trips were cancelled during the onset of the coronavirus in China. Kids were saddened to miss out on some of the things that they were looking forward to all year.
Some students revealed that during quarantine, they stayed inside their house for several weeks to over a month. "I haven't gone out of our apartment since Chinese New Year ," shared Vicky, in one of our Zoom sessions in March. CNY was in January.
Since kids were usually indoors, I gave them short physical and vocal exercises that they could do at home.
Here are a couple of the Drama exercises that you can also share with your students.
More short drama exercises can be found on my website and youtube channel, DramaYogi.
Below is an inclusive energetic exercise highlighting cultural awareness and global proficiency. It combines different languages in a fast-paced physical theater warm-up.
Differentiating activities give kids options that provides various levels of engagement. Students need time to adjust to an e-learning platform and giving light lessons especially in the beginning gives them a soft transition to a new mode of learning.
They chose to participate through one of the following options:
1. Photograph yourself doing one of the exercises (this was helpful for kids who have identified themselves as shy); 2. Video yourself practicing the exercises; or 3. Teach other kids how to do the exercises.
Drama is about communication and expression! Kids created memes, emojis, GIFS and stickers to express their feelings .
My EdTech colleague Kim T. made this "how to padlet" as a resource to teach kids how to make fun digital images.
Here is an example of a meme by eighth grader, Angel:
4. Learn and perform an easy and fun dance to "Champion" by Carrie Underwood featuring Ludacris
Music and dance are a dynamic feel good combo. Teaching kids this simple choreography to "Champion" gave kids a daily dose of nutritious movement while ingesting positive lyrics to help them push through the tough time.
Merle, along with several other classmates, shared that learning the dance made them feel happy.
Feel free to use this simple movement and choreography in your classroom.
5. Choose Your Own Drama Adventure
How can we empower kids with voice, choice and flexibility in an asynchronous learning environment? I differentiated and gave them options based on things they have enjoyed and projects that they would like to work on.
I surveyed the kids and based on the feedback, created a "Choose Your Own Drama Adventure" project list. I gave mini-lessons for each option and shared performance exemplars that met standard-based assessment. (Check-ou the "Choose Your Own Adventure" infographics below.)
Patrick shared that this project "gives you freedom to choose what you want to do and it lets you show yourself through your choice."
Alexander added that, "From this "Choose Your Own Drama Adventure" project, I really like how we get several choices. This allows all of us students to have different styles of doing this project in creative ways which we might enjoy, instead of a standard style of doing projects in other classes."
During this chaotic time of a global pandemic, it was nice to give kids something positive to focus on. It gave them a range of projects from immersing in verbatim theater by writing a monologue based on a real person in Wuhan to creatively expressing themselves through dance, acting or memes.
Here are a few project samples from ISB student blogs.
Hi! I’m Hannah. I’m an expat working mama of two girls. I teach drama & yoga, write for WellWomen, and devour chips dipped in mango salsa. I love clothing auditions, brunches and warm tropical beaches. We've been living in Shunyi, a suburb of Beijing for eight years.