Want an engaging project to do with students that teaches authentic communication skills and provides practice in teamwork skills?
Consider project-based learning with plays, using one of the Integrated Skills Through Drama books that guides your class through the process of rehearsing, performing, and producing an original short play. I always like to share resources that contain something a little different in this end of summer, back to school, period, when teachers have time to prepare something like project-based learning (PBL).
The wonderful thing about a project like a play is that students will be engaged in a great deal of authentic conversation as they work together. There’s a lot of logistics to discuss when putting on a play. And students can take charge of a lot of it. That means talking with other students about wardrobe, blocking, set design, props. Some students videotape the performance, so there’s need for a videographer. You may even have students directing each other.
One group of students who performed Her Own Worst Enemy at a local university went to the store on their own to buy props. So they ended up using their English outside of class in an authentic situation! How’s that for a real-world interaction? And student autonomy. It also gives you an idea of how motivating these drama projects can be—Students wanted to work outside class and spend their own money! But even if students chose to perform the play as reader’s theater, they still have to discuss how to play their roles and work together.
Each book has an attentive listening activity where students discuss a theme related to the play. The students practice paraphrasing or summarizing what someone else said before giving their own opinion. We’ve included this because attentive listening is a key skill in doing any kind of project work.
In fact, as students study the skills they need to perform, they are also studying the skills they need to work together as a team. Speaking clearly, persuading others to your point of view, showing you are skeptical or enthusiastic about a suggestion—these are all things that both characters in a play and people in a group project, need to be able to do. So the performance skills that students are learning throughout the book are transferable to the project itself. In fact, Alice shared a lesson plan on disagreeing using Only the Best Intentions as an example. But is there anything more needed in a group project than knowing how to express disagreement?
So if you are thinking about a class project for the new school year, I’d recommend project-based learning with plays. The books in the Integrated Skills Through Drama series also make a nice basis for an elective class, or drama club. And search our site for resources or get in touch. We always love to hear what people are doing with our resources. We’re also happy to share advice and ideas for working with our materials in the classroom!