Magazine article NATE Classroom

Drama for Writing

Magazine article NATE Classroom

Drama for Writing

Article excerpt

Close up: A girl and two boys in a Year 4 class stand facing each other, motionless for a moment. The girl and one of the boys, arms out, face the other boy standing on his own. Other children gradually move in and stand close to the pair and speak the words we would associate with a parent relieved to be reunited with their child, or stand close to the boy and speak the words of the hitherto 'lost child'.

Wider frame: The other children in the class sit in a circle around the 'parents' and 'child' they have sculpted earlier and consider whether to move into the picture and contribute lines of dialogue to the image.


Wider frame: A teacher sits on the floor just outside the circle of children sometimes indicating the next child to contribute, sometimes leaving time for children to contribute of their own volition.

Wide angle: Other teachers sit on chairs outside the circle leaning forward to observe the scene being built or to hear the oral script being created.

Birds eye view: Other groups of teachers in other classrooms nearby watch and listen attentively or discuss with the members of the class they are with and the class teacher what and how they are learning through the activity they are engaged in.

Zoom in to another part of the building: tea and cakes enough for fifty people are being prepared in the school hall and the school's headteacher is checking the PowerPoint on the huge screen occupying one wall of the room.

The slide on the huge screen reads:

The School Context:

36 languages

75% EAL

53% SEN

Highest social Deprivation area

Staff not Drama trained

The headteacher checks the next slide:


Why Drama for Writing?

* Low comprehension skills.

* Lack of context when writing.

* Low writing levels.

* Limited points progress in writing.

* Develop teaching styles.

* Develop quality teaching

* Start taking more risks.

* Develop learning styles.

* Challenge the more able.

As the teachers who have been observing classes around the school are led towards tea and cake by children acting as their 'stewards', they talk and gesticulate excitedly together over the sound of a Jack Johnson track, Better Together.

The headteacher checks another slide: Proven impact:

* Pupils' enjoyment levels raised.

* Engagement levels raised.

* Rapid staff development.

* Boys more enthused.

* SEN more access to writing.

* Positive staff ethos. 4

* Positive parent responses.

* Quality writing produced.

* Clear context for writing.

* Attainment and achievement.

Fade music:

The 50 teachers, language coordinators, head teachers, consultants and other invited guests collect a cup of tea. They are the second group to attend the launch days of 'Drama for Writing' in Northampton and they settle in front of three presenters including the school's headteacher and the huge screen, which now reads:


Cut to narrator's voice (spoken by one of the language coordinators visiting the event), We attended the launch of 'Drama for Writing Two' on February 26th, hoping that this would provide us with a vehicle for driving our children's writing forward. I had previously had experience of the original 'Drama for Writing', but had not fully explored its potential and did not feel confident about my ability to teach drama and I certainly was not confident about leading drama within school. The day was inspirational and we left feeling strongly that this was the way forward for us.

What helped us to feel like this? The day was led and organised in such a way as to give us practical experiences and opportunities to discuss not just what worked but more importantly why it worked. …

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