If you haven’t visited our Integrated Skills Through Drama page lately, you might want to check it out. We’ve added a few useful new resources for teaching communication skills and pragmatics through the medium of a play. The resources on that page are intended to act as supplements for the plays in the ISTD series, Her Own Worst Enemy and Only the Best Intentions. However, you can use the lessons and activities alone or in conjunction with a different play or script.
I’m particularly proud of our guide to doing Reader’s Theater, which tries to give a wide variety of options and ideas for doing reader’s theater from a simple staged reading to a full performance with scripts in hand. It’s a remarkably adaptable approach to working with scripts or stories. This guide co-authored by Walton Burns and Alice Savage, helps you customize the approach to your students.
There’s also a guide to doing mini-debates. Short debates are a fun way of helping students analyze and discuss the main themes of the play. A debate is also an opportunity to practice pragmatics because students must attempt to reach their audience and persuade them with a variety of rhetorical devices. While doing a debate sounds quite arduous, it doesn’t have to be. Our guide suggests ways to do it in under 30 minutes with very little prep.
We’ve also included a number of lesson plans that focus on a particular communicative goal such as: wearing someone down to agree with you or softening the blow of a brutally honest speech, such as telling someone they are bad at an activity. There’s also a very authentic activity called Wedding Party that helps students learn language to perform tasks that even native speakers struggle with: starting, carrying out, and ending small talk. This one can be added to work on Only the Best Intentions as it is ostensibly set at the marriage of Oscar and Gigi. However, it’s also a perfect standalone activity. It’s also one you can repeat without students getting bored. The list of small talk topics and strategies is bottomless. And I find this activity is really one of the most applicable. Students do get invited to parties or gatherings. And some students are even required to attend meetings as part of their scholarship or funding.
There’s a few treasures I haven’t mentioned here, including an Answer Key to Her Own Worst Enemy (follow the product link for the answer key). So please bookmark the Integrated Skills Through Drama page and revisit it occasionally to see what we’ve added. And please let us know it goes if you use these resources in your class.