Dolen Cymru link between Ysgol Dyffryn Taf and Pokane High School
Case Study: Using Drama in the classroom
Ysgol Dyffryn Taf and Pokane High School have been partner schools since 2008. Over the last 7 years we have established a close relationship, and teachers from both schools have visited Wales and Lesotho in order to share good practice. Numerous projects have been undertaken by teachers and students in both schools and new teaching techniques have been introduced and implemented as a result.
In 2013, drama was used at Pokane High School as part of a project on the theme of oppression. The same project was undertaken by students at Ysgol Dyffryn Taf. Since then, drama has been at the heart of the projects completed at Pokane. This case study aims to highlight the work completed at Pokane High School and how drama has been implemented by its staff as a teaching and learning technique. It also aims to measure the impact it has had at the school on both students and staff.
Drama at Pokane High School
Since introducing drama as a teaching and learning technique at Pokane High School in 2013, it was evident during the visit this year that students are more confident. Drama has clearly been used and implemented over the last year by the students and staff within the classroom and has become a vital part of the extra curricular provision at the school.
There is now a drama club at the school which meets at 4pm every Tuesday and drama is also being promoted within the classroom to:
- engage students' learning
- improve confidence
- encourage students to work in pairs / groups across all subjects
- improve citizenship / friendship between students
- encourage a better relationship / respect between girls and boys
- improve problem solving skills
- encourage creative writing skills
- encourage imagination
- improve communication skills
- encourage students to express their opinions
- encourage and improve the emotional literacy of students
- improve English language competency in both written and oral work
Development and Implementation
In 2013 the students were lacking in self confidence and there was a reluctance to speak aloud in class or to express opinions. A simple project was carried out by the visiting teachers from Ysgol Dyffryn Taf with the Form D/E classes on the theme of oppression, which encouraged the students to discuss the topic in groups and to express their opinions. The project culminated in all groups creating a series of simple freeze frames depicting oppression and ways of changing those situations in which it arises. All performances were filmed. Students seem to enjoy the project and staff at Pokane were amazed by their ability to express and articulate their opinions, and their willingness to perform and work together.
In 2014 a similar project was undertaken on the theme 'I Have a Dream'. It was clear that those students from the previous project had more confidence and had been given the opportunity by some staff at Pokane to continue to use pair / group discussion and drama in the classroom. This time the students were happy to speak some dialogue which they devised themselves. Some students from Form E had been meeting to perform some drama after school since the last visit but it had not been a regular undertaking. Other students in the school were showing an interest in using drama and smaller projects were completed with other forms.
There is now a drama club at the school which regularly meets on Tuesdays after school. The students are confident expressing themselves in general (speaking to me in class and on the school grounds) and group work is being undertaken in some classes. Drama has been established as a useful teaching tool by some members of staff who have been implementing its use across all forms since the last visit. Form B students were keen to tell me on my first day that they had recently undertaken a project in English on bullying that had used drama.
The students had:
- discussed the topic in groups and fed ideas back as a class
- devised a plot for a play based on the theme
- allocated a scene for each group to devise
- devised and written scenes
- edited the scenes, concentrating on the standard of English used
- collated the script together
- blocked, rehearsed and learned lines
- worked on movement and voice to express emotion
- produced and performed the play
Neo Ponoane who was in charge of the project has worked closely with myself during past visits and has led the implementation of drama within the school. She also stated that she had been inspired by the work undertaken in drama classes at Ysgol Dyffryn Taf when she visited in July 2014.
The play was a pleasure to watch! The students were articulate, expressive and showed an understanding of the theme. It was clear that they had enjoyed the whole process which had included group work, extended writing and performing. What was interesting to witness was the new found respect and tolerance between boys and girls. This was lacking in previous visits with a refusal from girls and boys to work together. I strongly believe that group work and the use of drama has helped the students to communicate and work collaboratively together and the finished production was wonderful!
I sincerely hope that using drama as a way of learning continues at Pokane High School. Drama has always had the power to engage people in a unique way and provides a shared experience that enhances learning. It provides a safe environment for expressing opinions and a creative outlet for frustrations and worries that can be debated and resolved. It offers a chance to be collaborative and creative and encourages tolerance and patience. I firmly believe that it is a basic human experience that transcends all cultures, religions and status. My hope is that whoever visits Lesotho in the future, that they continue to encourage what has become an important and vital part of the Dolen Cymru link between Pokane High School and Ysgol Dyffryn Taf.