Dec 30, 2009

Piagets short article for psychological backup to planning for 7-12 age group

Click title above or if that does not work paste the link below to your browser.

Dec 28, 2009

Drama Games for older children

Click on the title above to bring you to a Games list which is a start. Especially in the Upper part of the school Remember the PVC

phases of the came.
The function of the game is to help your pupils concentrate on your chosen theme.


Adapt and use these to suit your theme and subject in your drama. You might change the character, the time or the place to those in your story.

Practise it first with others( put short instructions on a card if you think that would help) to give you confidence to set it up in a class.Try to imagine the game happening in the space in which you will work.

Have another up your sleeve should the first game prove complex for the age group you are working with.

Dec 3, 2009

Scarves for Drama

Click above to get directly the suppliers of scarves useful in drama.

Nov 22, 2009

Planning and Plot

Describe the story you plan to write in one sentence. If you can’t say what your drama is about in one sentence, you don’t have a clear enough idea of what you’re trying to do.

Decide what the main character wants more than anything else in life. The story will grow out of this desire.

Write a character description of the protagonist and antagonist ( if there is one) that includes appearance, likes, dislikes, fears, childhood difficulties, occupation, etc.

What groups does the main character belong to ?

The kind of experiences your main character has had in the past will determine how he behaves in the future. What he fears will affect his actions.

Make a timeline for the events of the drama . Try to get it inot six frames

Make a map that shows where all the action will take place.

Decide who, where and what happens in the final scene.

Nov 17, 2009

Books for Planning drama 7-12

Recommended texts for classroom drama aged 7-12 include the following books, although objects photos and poetry can work just as well.

Picture Books

  1. The Sea Monster by Chris Wormell
  2. The Arrival by Shaun Tan 5th/6th
  3. The Island by A. Gruder 5th/6th
  4. The Gift of the Magi by O.Henry. Illust. by PJ Lynch 3/4/5/6
  5. The Long March by Marie Louise Fitzpatrick 4/5/6
  6. When Jessie came across the Sea by Amy Hest
  7. The Green Children by Kevin Crossley Holland 3/4/5/6th
  8. The Dolphin Boy 3/4/5

Young people's novels suitable for pre-texts

  1. The Ruby Ring by Yvonne MacGrory 4/5/6th
  2. The Blue Horse by Marita Conlon McKenna 4/5/6th
  3. Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten by Bob Graham
  4. Private and Confidential by Marion Ripley 4/5/6
  5. The Watertower by Gary Crew 4/5/6th
  6. Blodin the Beast by Michael Morpurgo
  7. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo 5/6th. Esp boys 6th
  8. Blue John by Berlie Doherty
  9. The Garden by Gary Blythe
  10. Mr Bear and the Bear by Ruth Brown
  11. The Birdman by Melvin Burgess
  12. The Voyage on the Great Titanic: The diary of Margaret Ann Brady by Ellen Emerson White 4/5/6
  13. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah. The story of ayoung girl growing up in China in the 1940's and WW2. Suit 5/6. Ch. 13 is a useful pre-text.

Nov 16, 2009

Structuring a Drama

Preparing for Drama? Short video on structuring Drama

Nov 14, 2009

Planning a Drama

For examples of Classroom Drama (7-11 yrs)click:

Section one
Framing the drama

Theme: Sometimes expressed in words such as “ This drama is about the way young people have different dreams to older people,” or “How people deal with conflict of traditions in an immigrant family.” To express your theme in one word , say “Love” or” Change”, which does not really give the reader the same view of your intentions as it has a very broad focus. These words might be better described as the subject. A well-written theme gives the reader a snapshot of the sorts of human questions that might be in the writer’s mind ,which the characters will flesh out in the action of the drama. This embodiment makes the theme concrete for the pupils.

Underlying question : This develops directly out of the theme, so if we take the idea of older and younger people’s dreams, the Underlying question might be "Where do dreams come from"? What are the influences on a person’s dreams? ? How do dreams affect people’s behaviour? These questions all have the human at their heart. They develop the theme and one could almost see a scene coming out of each question, as there is a sense of the person in each of the questions above. You may use underlying questions to develop two sides of a debate. In a story of Miss Muffet, the questions might be what are the rights of people?[Should she have sat under that tree?] What are the rights of insects? [Should he make his web wherever he likes?]. These underlying questions suggest dramatic action, as above. One may work back from the dramatic questions to the underlying questions and then the theme or vice versa, if that is easier for you. Either way , one is linked directly to the other.

Source and stimulus: The source of your story may be theme like the Cost of Justice, and if so then you need an aesthetic or symbolic stimulus to bring debate to life. This usually is a poem, short story, novel, picture, musical piece, or a combination of any of these above, which
[a] Capture the imagination.
[b] Give a sense of the theme, and provoke many open questions.
[c] Has sensory appeal and lures the reader into a situation. Typically, this will focus on a person or family, often similar to the pupils in age, to facilitate empathic engagement. The place and time suggested may be utterly different to the present, though not always, especially as the class increases in age.
[d] Have sense of a person’s world, including people mentioned and unmentioned. People in the picture and those absent from it. Voices we hear and those yet unheard? Secrets to be revealed, in short a stimulus or source should be evocative for you ,then you can pass on the sense of excitement to the pupils. If the picture is being used for the sake of it, move on and choose a source, which speaks to you. We all like teaching thing s we like ourselves.
[e] Suggests tensions which may be interesting to explore. NB Emotions such as sadness are not tensions. It is the different human reaction to sad events, which cause tensions for ourselves and those around us. A sad event for someone may be release of tension for someone else in the story. For instance, emigration may be sad for those leaving, but it may be a positive for some. It is the use of the contrasts within an event that we discuss the argument from both sides. These contrasts create the tension for the pupils. The value of this is that the pupil engages with the theme and underlying questions through the contrasting characters and situations.
[f] Suggest an event which cause a life change for someone.
[g] This stimulus, or a summary of it, must be included with your assignment to help the lecturer understand your intentions.

Section Two
Focusing the drama

Place: The sense of place can ground the pupils and support their going into role. To develop a sense of Place one may think of using the five senses to create total sense of identity for the place and help pupils to suspend their disbelief and accept the fiction of place and time. Not all places will be significant but some will. Think of the concentric circles. The outside circle is the galaxy, then the universe, the world, the continent, the country, the county, the town, street, house, room. The significant ones in Ann Frank were the country, street, house, and attic room.

Existing tension of place might exist where the ownership of the land is contested. This may be significant if our main character is associated with one contested side or the other.

Time: Think of concentric circles. The outer circle contains the millennium; next circle the century, next the decade, then the year, season, month, day, and time of day. Not all of these will be significant, but some will. E.g. 1944 winter for Anne Frank.

Roles: Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey is responsible for looking after the welfare of her charges, even if it means coming into confrontation with Ms. Trunchbull. Like wise the Dursleys are responsible for Happy Potter’s life, but they do not do it well, this providing useful tensions, which we can explore in a process drama. Think of responsibility. Who in Humpty Dumpty’s life has responsibility for each of the jobs, which help look after Humpty and his friends? These will fall into the private and public spheres. Roles in the private sphere will include Parents, siblings, relatives, neighbours, helpers in the home, or farm. Visitors, The public sphere will include roes, which influence the main character. Examples of these may include guardian type roles in education, health, employment, government, religion, commerce, military, legal, social, historical. Each of these roles above will have a clear responsibility. Often their responsibility may be the source of linking your themes, character, and situation. For example, Cinderella meets a friendly servant who is responsible for delivering the invitation to the ball and is answerable to the queen . Does the servant tell Cinders that or bring them straight to the queen? How does the servant balance her conflicting loyalties to her friend Cinders and her boss, the queen? The pupil in role as the servant is put into a push /pull tension which explores this theme in a concrete way.
Other types of role that may influence the main character might be animals, imaginary heroes, or friends; even the trees and spirits of the river can have a role in children’s drama. Think of the Wizard of Oz.
Again using the concentric circle model, the central circle will be the main role, followed by family, neighbours, associates, social carers, state officials, and religious ministers, military or other.

Moments: Your drama will normally aim for a climax moment. This includes a decision made by the character; certainly, it will be a moment of significant physical, mental, or moral change for them. However, for this to work at any depth, the pupils must be invested in a number of steps along the way so that they will take responsibility for the actions of their characters. Typically, these will include moments of pretext and context. Pretext is defined here as the situation that pertained up to the start of your drama, the back story if you will. Context includes the influences and pressures on the place, time, and roles. The pretext is set by exercises in place, time, and previous history of events, which lead up to your opening. In this we understand why events happened in the way they did. The next stage is to develop the story through action. For this we need people and in drama, these are called the roles. A role may be typical and functional, e.g. the nurse, the doctor. It becomes a character over the life of the drama by being fleshed out fully beyond its functional responsibilities. Not all roles will become characters in your drama. Some will remain as types. The main roles, however , will develop into three-dimensional roles, beyond stereotype, by the addition of both teacher in role and pupil in role experiences. Here we see the various roles and how they influence the main character. This is done through action in role by the pupils and teacher, which creates empathy for the main role. The purpose of which is to invest the children so much that they will want to care about what happens to the character. Many dramas rise or fall on the amount of investment that is put into the drama in this way. The main moment will then be situated or book ended by other scenes, which develop the roles and themes in ways, which build belief in the characters and their situation.

Briefing. How to create the interest in the pupils. How to invest them in the improvisation. A necessary ingredient is tension, which is put in by the teacher, not the pupils. The tension is usually a push/pull conflict, which may be external or internal; if external then the main role is conflicted by a choice of accepting present reality or taking gamble and going on by making an alternative. There is an unknown element about this choice, however which may ironically be to his detriment, or good.
If internal, the role may be morally conflicted, but a choice of commercial gain over loyalty. Alternatively, he may be conflicted in doing an activity the absolute best he can because the king may choose him to be his personal guard if he does it well. However there are other people thinking the same thing as we speak. This tension usually depends on the qualities of the role.

Focus: This briefing will provide sharp focus the pupils on the task in hand. It must be clearly expressed in terms of “desired outcome.” This conflict of desired outcome provides very useful tensions, which provide the energy for autonomous engagement in the improvisation. Done well, it means that the teacher can hand over creative power to the pupils and simply watch the events unfold. Each pupil must have his or her own desired outcome. They need to know where they are going if they are going to get there. You provide the map, they make the journey.

Assessment: The three strands of the curriculum are

Making and exploring drama
Co-operation and communication in drama
Reflecting on drama

There should be one objective per lesson per strand. However, it is meet to note that these objectives, like all objectives must be evidence based. We must be able to assess that each pupil has achieved the stated objective in that particular lesson. This can be an educational objective, like measuring Columbus’ cabin ( Maths; Making and Exploring); a subject based objective, ( make a still image of Tiny Tim the day after Christmas); or a drama skill based objective, (carry out brief with conviction in a scene between Jack and his mum.) . Sometimes the strands will overlap, but the emphasis will suffice. For instance in the scene between Jack and his mum, the teacher is clear that whilst they must co-operate and communicate to achieve the goal, that her objective for this lesson is on Jack speaking with belief in the scene with his mother. This should clarify boundaries and make progress clearer when writing reports. Assessment is usually based on a portfolio of work kept in a folder during the year, as in art.

Section Three
Rounding off the drama

Reflection: Reflection on motives, implications, and consequences should happen regularly through discussion in role and other hot seat activities. Leave the theme in the pupils’ unconscious, which will do the work for you. To make a theme explicit can take the magic out of the drama and impede the ripple effect of authentic thinking, which is so desired in this art form. Once we say something like” So stealing is very bold isn’t it?” We deny the child the right to make up her own mind in this instance. Of course, we make it clear that we do not condone stealing, by saying that the actions refer to the story and not to our lives. It was Tom in Tom, Tom the piper’s son stole a pig, and away he ran who stole the pig and not one of us here in this classroom. Try to reflect whilst in role if possible. To talk as the family of the widow who had her pig stolen about the food implications for them is reflection, but it is done in role. This could just as easily be still image of the widow’s family three days later.

Linking: Each scene must be linked to the one before. This can be done in class by teacher telling another bit of the story, or the arrival of a message or referral to another piece of news or new character. It is important that this be thought out in advance to facilitate the maintenance of belief. An exercise given at the end of the drama such as a diary entry, picture or other empathic exercise will keep the drama narrative alive until time allows you to return to the story. This should be a drama exercise, but may also be integrated with another subject.

Finishing: This may happen sooner that you expect, should pupils change the energy or focus of the drama. Remember that it is partnership and if teacher insists on finishing a drama that has finished its shelf life, then stale food is the only fare ,and no one wants that. If the interest appears to be waning, and you feel that there is more to explore in your theme, add in another tension. A new character or new information, which confounds the present situation. If that does not work try asking the pupils” Well, I am flummoxed. I haven’t a clue what Jamie might do now…what do you think … have a chat or draw the possibilities for Jamie now. It would be great to have one realistic idea that you think might work.”

Further reading:
- Making sense of Drama by Jonothan Neelands . Esp. Ch. 9. “Planning Drama”.
- Drama- a mind of many wonders by Morgan and Saxton.

Colm Hefferon
Planning Drama

Nov 11, 2009

Ways and means of Telling stories in drama:

Improvising with Structure for Creativity
Introducing Mime: Game 1: Receptionist and foreign ( non-English speaking) guest. Modelled by teacher.The guest has a problem.Something int he domestic sphere. The class in role as receptionist have to guess what the problem being mimed by the teacher is. Stress the notion that the guest can;t speak, as the fun comes from that tension. Ask for other ideas then ask a pupil to repeat what you have done with their own ideas.
Script Cards: Small snatches of speeches . pupils Play in 2's and 3's a few times- until used to them ,shoto group then reverse status and power. Reflect on the effect of this on the scene. then change the ending to create a reversal of power.
Story cards: Tessa da Rossa.have 3 different colours.2,3 and 4, mark statements based ion a well known story( for lower groups) and with significant changes ( for higher groups). Pupils tell a story based on the cards,expanding them as they feel appropriate.
Character structure cards: based on the work of James Campbell's "Hero with thousand faces" there are a number of phases in hero story( or Hollywood film) .
There are TEN groups of cards and in each are different aspects of the drama curriculum.

Positive trait of character
Negative trait of chartacter
A problem caused by that negative trait
A suggestion as to how the positive trait may help with a solution to the problem
The crisis
The solution
The return

CH Nov 09

Oct 30, 2009

Pretexts to develop a drama for Primary School

Developing a Drama from a pretext
Colm Hefferon Nov ’09

Possibility A :A drama where the end is known. Pupils in role as officers in a court-martial in World War one.

Possibility B: We do not know what decision he will make. The end is not known.

Ireland 1917

It is 1917. Ireland has been promised Independence if she agrees to fight for England in the Great war against the German Empire.

Gerry Ryan is 13 in sixth class and lives near an army barracks He is mad about army life. He feeds the horses there after school each day and dreams of being a bandsman in the Munster Fusiliers, his dad’s regiment. Gerry’s Dad Sgt. Michael Ryan died in the battle of the Somme in 1916. Gerry has just won a scholarship to a military school, he starts soon in Aldershot.

His Mum tries to keep things going taking in sewing of uniforms ,but its never enough. She is always cheerful but worries about her son Charlie and his future. His sister works in Arnott’s half time and is going out with Tim from the Accounts department. His brother Shane and sister Eileen are very important to Gerry . Eileen has a beautiful singing voice, she won the Feis Cheoil in 1916 ,just before her Dad died and has not sung since. She has money saved to pay for lessons with the singer Count John Mc Cormack.

He adores his elder brother, Shane, who is working on the Independent Newspaper. He also adores his younger brother Charlie who has a learning disability.

Shane is going out with a girl called Máire whose father also lost his life along with the one million who died in the Somme. She does not believe the English that they will give Ireland freedom. She is learning Irish and works backstage in the Abbey theatre. Gerry sees them every evening as he walks home from Wellington Barracks. Shane and Máire walk along the Quays to her mam’s flat in Eden Place.

Newspapers are full of the losses in France. More young men are needed and Shane feels he should join up. But Máire is not so sure.
One morning on his 18th birthday, a letter arrives for Shane in the flat. In it is a white feather.

What should he do?

Ways to structure your ideas:

(1) KDS
What you KNOW
What you DON'T KNOW
What you SUSPECT
Group Roles
Mentioned and unmentioned. Private and Public
WOW Chart
WHO would have quesions to ask?
OF WHOM would they be asked?
Worst case scenario in each case( WCS)
Friends WCS/Fathers friends/Family WCS/Neighbours WCS

Suggested areas for exploration

1. Time: Before and after
2. Unexpected friends arrive- the twist

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo ( 11-14 yrs)
Its a long Way by Sebastian Barry.( Adult)
How Many miles to Babylon? Jennifer Johnston.
Other pretexts were used e.g Dolphin Boy,available in SPCD Library

Oct 16, 2009

Drama and Story: Click on page below

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Session 3 Drama for Literacy

TIR using Forest Child

Imagination abandoned by Reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the source of their wonders. Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes

Game Openers: Concentrator: Key words concentration. Rules. Step in count .if not done last week then Fizz Buzz. [1] VGI .5 senses. [2] Keeper of the Keys . [3] Trad picture examination. Small/big. Sims /diffs. Use the cover picture as base.

Read the story or, even better, tell it .
Spread out the blanket. Light the candle. Walk around the room and see each eye. Then sit and watch the candle. Start the story.
· In voice of a forest animal. Against the hunter.

· Make a list of the 5 main events: Orally
· Using the blanket: make the group into 5’s. Then ask each group to name the five main points of the story. Then ask each group to name the five most important places for the Forest child. Then each group names ONE. Write/Draw on PAPER and place it on the blanket. When each group has named one- then each person takes a slip of paper and makes the unmentioned things in the story. Unmentioned places things. Hidden things. Secret things. Like hidden or forbidden path.

In five groups.
1. Show or Make a map of the main events and where they happened. What were the special places for the FC.
2. List the Important scenes in symbol ( pics, not words)
3. Signs on the landscape: what would a traveller see as they pass through the Valley.E.g. Danger! ( where would it be put) Ask pupils to suggest others.
4. Time line with pupils drawn images cut out OR Comic strip;
5. Interior of cave ( One secret object or photo etc)
6. Man Village ( Mapping)
7. Hunters house( Mapping- character exploration)

Tableau Worst moment for the forest child: groups of 4. Building sympathy for the child. Read images as anti-hunter. Question the Child only –build up against the Hunter.

· Hot seat the hunter. Role Motivation: Concentrate on the way the hunter should or should not have behaved. Ask for questions in advance. Rehears how the participants will tackle him If he gets angry then we won’t find out-so how should we question him to not make him angry. Take suggestions: Indirectly, slowly in.

· Raise issues. Don’t reach a decision.
· How will it end? Five years time. First day at school
· Get into groups. Decide on a happy end or a sad one or a mixture.
· Make a play. Only one line each at the most two.

· Identify Themes, Underlying question, poss. other TIR’s

Oct 8, 2009

Session Two Persuasion

Session two : Role Exercise

Exercise to bring people gently into role:

Persuasion in two’s. em>

Using same partner as you had in the previous game, explain terms:



Desired outcome



Part one: A is tired and wants to watch a favourite TV show. B arrives and wants to watch a show on other channel. There is no VCR or TV channel changer in the room. Without any body contact, A must achieve their desired outcome and B also. Pupils are told " You must not give up!"

Part two: Teacher and Pupil. Same A +B ( esp. with pupils, to create real safety) ) School is having open day. Teacher has beautiful room prepared . Enter B as pupil who has been absent for some time and is not a good attender. B has a Snake in box which s/he wants to put on the nature table. Teacher is afraid of losing this child and also the benefits of having the child back at school. She also is also aware of losing her reputation if the snake should misbehave. The pupil ( B) has been told by his very strong parent that s/he must go to school or else. The difference in these two role plays is that each has something to lose and gain from the interaction.

Part three: Same A+ B( if group are happy they may change partner at this stage to create new ideas.

This time the pairs are of different status; One is a senior staff member at a Football Museum. Money has been donated by the National Lottery. The other is a new graduate form Art school. A new exhibition is happening and the two must agree to mount it in an attractive way. The senior person has their own well tried ideas whereas the junior has their own. The tension is in each wanting different approaches to presentation.,The status of the two means that the younger may have to negotiate in softer way than they might otherwise.

Play for three minutes. Then evaluate each approach with your participants-

Part ONE: Much energy and antagonism. Non solvable without one backingdown

Part TWO: Status is different. Adds tension.

Part THREE: Status , tension and roles are very different.

You have now developed from playing yourself in role ( Part one) thru' a familiar role in a scene ( Part two) to an unfamiliar role ( Part three) which is definitely not you.

Congratulations! - you have now been in role, accepted a brief, achieved( or not) a desired objective and become aware of the effect of status on a scene,especially in terms of tension. This was the Tension of differing status.

This structure was used with Setanta and Conor in conflict over whether Setanta should be sent home. You will remember we set up the Concern of each character. This was a received Brief as opposed to the given brief of the arguing flatmates earlier.

Then we set up the King by making statue of how Setanta might have first seen him int he hall of Armagh. Each person made one change,with discussion in between.Further, we created Setanta in the way that he would have been seen by Conor. This creation of characters invests the participants much more in the outcome.They now want to see how it works out.

End lesson