Expressive Arts- Exploring Drama

After our first drama session we watched a short video on a lesson plan created and run through with teachers as the pupils. It was obvious that the lesson planned was very well-structured. I think that this particular lesson plan can be adapted to cover certain Experiences and Outcomes in the Curriculum for Excellence, depending on what level the children may be working towards. This particular lesson allows each child in the class to be involved, voice their opinion and take part in a performance at the end. The evaluation part is very important because this allows the children to reflect on what can be improved on for the next drama lesson. Evaluation also lets children voice what worked well in their performance, and what they may want to achieve the next time.

At the beginning of the lesson, the ‘teachers’ were able to explain what was expected of each child, and some ‘ground rules’ that were mandatory throughout. It’s explained in the video that both teacher and the children came up with the expectations. If the children know what behaviour is acceptable and what is not, it will mean for a lesson to run more smoothly.
A warm-up is key to get everybody moving. The video describes a warm up as essential, to get the ‘mind ready and the body ready’. Compared to a maths lesson, drama may have a lot more active movement, so it is important the children can recognise this. It also prepares the children for what may come throughout the lesson – expressing yourself through movement or sound, to re-enact how certain characters may feel, and to explore their own emotions.
The next area covered was visualisation. This area could relate to another topic – for example, if in Topic the class was investigating the Egyptian Era. This can then be brought into drama. They could visualise the constructing of the pyramids. The children should be able to think creatively what this scene may have looked like, sounded like and even felt like. I thought the ‘eye’s closed and tap on the shoulder to share your ideas’ was a great technique – allowing different child to express themselves in what they imagine this particular scene to be like. Not every scene would be similar and many children would have different ideas. I thought bringing in pictures for the children to look at as well would help with their imagination to flow.
The ‘teachers’ then moved onto looking at creating the image they have visualised into an actual scene, using their bodies. This makes the lesson much more active and allows the children to keep using that imagination in what this particular scene may look like. I believe this more active part of the lesson is vital in allowing the children to explore the ideas of different characters in the scene, allowing them to take on the whole personality. It gets the children working as a team also, to create a scene which will be very different from the other groups. By working collaboratively together they will be able to develop skills in confidence, listening and communication with each other.
The short clip displays how important performance is. Even if it is just to the peers in the class, it is vital that the children are able to take pride in their work and evaluate what they think worked well, and what may need some improvement. By being able to evaluate their own work, the children are able to explore what they may want to work towards the in the next drama lesson.

The lesson is structured in a way that covers each area listed in the Experiences and Outcomes, in the Curriculum for Excellence. Those taking part in the lesson were able to use a range of stimuli – visualisation and a story – to express themselves, through sounds, facial expressions, gestures and body movements. By using the bodyscaping technique, children are able top bring everyone’s imagination together and work as a team to create their own scenes. They can further develop their confidence in performing, and communication skills with their peers – deciding what works in their scene, and what can be worked upon.
The lesson seems very well structured and relates to many of the Experiences and Outcomes. The children are able to explore how they can use their voice and their movement to create certain stories, they have freedom in what they want to create and are able to use trial and error to decide what works and what may need to be reconsidered. By accessing a range of different stimuli – photos, a story being told, visualisation – children are able to explore different ideas depending on what they are seeing/hearing. It gives them a range of ideas to consider while taking on role of different characters. By having an evaluation at the end of a lesson children are able to reflect on what they felt went well in the lesson, and what they have learned throughout. It’s always vital to reflect as this helps with further -developing confidence and the skills needed in performance and in using their imagination.

I believe that you can always bring other areas of the curriculum into drama. It is an active way of bringing children’s imaginations to life. Certain subjects, such as Topic and Literacy can be further developed into drama. IF we were exploring creative writing in Literacy, we can develop our stories and pick certain parts out to create scenes. This helps develop what the character is thinking and the children can understand the emotions displayed in each other’s stories more. Drama can also be used to link with Topic studies, such as weather, countries around the world, the rain forest, under the sea, etc. If we look at the rain forest topic, there are many visualisations that can be explored. The pitter-patter of the rain falling from the sky, the thud of animal feet on the ground, the screeches of different birds soaring through the sky, the buzzing of insects hiding in the trees, etc. Many different ideas can be explored in drama through certain topics, and allows children to visualise what it may feel like to live there and how their surroundings differ to ours.

Drama is a prominent area of the curriculum that allows children to explore their thoughts and feelings, and portray these through different scenes. It lets children explore their own imagination and use their creativity to develop their skills in communication and language, allowing them to understand other’s thoughts and emotions, build confidence and gain an understanding of the world around them.
A link to the video watched : http://archive.teachfind.com/ttv/www.teachers.tv/videos/ks1-ks2-drama-teaching-drama-a-structured-approach.html

Teaching Across the Curriculum- First Dance Workshop

I attended my first dance workshop today with Eilidh Slattery. I didn’t really know what to expect as we entered the room, because I don’t think there was a lot of dance lessons when I was in primary school. Obviously, there was Scottish country dancing (which I loved), however, I do not remember any lessons where we, as children, were able to express ourselves, create our own routines and try different genres of dance. It was explained to us how important it is for every child to be able to explore new ideas and express themselves through the arts. Throughout the session it was made clear that our group had different levels of confidence in showing our routines. Not everyone likes to present and ‘show off’ what they have created. I wasn’t the most comfortable at first, but as the lesson progressed, it was enjoyable to move around and not feel embarrassed in front of peers. Everyone was on the same boat. I will need to take this measure in to a classroom setting, as no child should be made to feel uncomfortable or forced to do something they may not want to do. However, many children love to show what skills they have developed through a dance lesson, and are happy to act silly and show their classmates their creation. Dancing, or any type of Physical Education, is a great way to have a ‘break’ between lessons in the day. Although children are still learning throughout their dance lessons, it is not like sitting and looking at worksheets and books. It allows them to explore their own thoughts and feelings through expressive arts, and to develop their skills in co-ordination and working with their classmates. Children are able to use their creativeness to choreograph their own movements. It is vital that children have choice also. Throughout our session, we were able to make our own moves up, and then watched other pairs. Eilidh allowed us to perform in front of each other, and also mentioned that if we saw a different move we liked, we were able to try it out. Having freedom within the lesson let each group express themselves, and not one move was the same. It also let us develop a move further if it maybe didn’t go right the first time.

This short session allowed me to understand that certain skills can be developed in different ways. We shouldn’t be stuck at a desk all day – it is vital to learn though being active. Children are always developing confidence and skills to be able to accept positive feedback and even ‘two stars and a wish’. It is vital that we are able to give positive feedback, but also an area or two that can be improved on, such as ‘ As a group you were really in sync and your choreography was really creative! Let’s work on our spacial awareness – and not bump into each other! Great job.’.
It is also really important that children are able to reflect on their own work, without being too harsh on one another. Being able to feel pride on the positive feedback you receive, but also developing in areas that can be improved is key.

I believe Expressive Arts in school should be accessed as much as possible because it allows every child to express themselves in a different way. Not all children are able to access these hobbies outside of the school environment. Bringing them into the curriculum is a great way of giving every child the opportunity to try something new and develop skills in that particular area.

Our session was really enjoyable and I hope I can bring a positive outlook in to the classroom setting. We can always improve on our skills and develop them further, in a positive and beneficial way. I would like children to feel comfortable in expressing themselves, whether that is through dance, creative writing, music or drama, etc. In the session, Eilidh made clear that positive feedback was key to support the children when trying something new- even if something goes wrong-  and it also gives them a sense of pride in their work. These are some main aspects I want to be able to take in to placement – to have lessons that children will enjoy and take pleasure out of doing, to allow them improve on their skills constantly – sometimes without even knowing – and to develop confidence in trying something new.

An Agency Visit to Downfield Primary School

Within our module, Working Together, an agency visit was set up for each group to attend. There were a range of different places each group could visit. My group visited Downfield Primary School, situated near Kirkton in Dundee. As soon as we walked through the door we could tell it was a very welcoming school – bright, colourful pictures on the walls and a very warm and friendly headteacher. Karen, the head teacher led us into one conference rooms. Our team were really well-prepared with a list of questions and some notepads to write down answers and thoughts. Our meeting was very well organised and we were able to speak to lots of different people throughout the professions – Karen (the headteacher), Stacey and Kirsten ( Family Support Workers), Monica and Kerrie (Social Workers), and many more friendly faces, who played a vital role in this multi-agency school.

I think my whole group would agree how interesting the visit was, and it was fascinating to speak to each of the professions involved in our course. They all had one mutual goal in the school; to get it right for every child (GIRFEC). From the information we received, the whole team seemed to work really well and their best interests were every child involved in the educational environment. It wasn’t for each child to come out on top, achieving 10 out of 10 on their maths test. It was for every child to feel nurtured and safe in the classroom, to reach their full potential and to have every opportunity possible in their short, but sweet, school life. Each child would have an amazing support system around them, which also was there to support parents too. Their ‘promise’ provided children with the knowledge that they were to be looked after, respected and included in the school environment and in the community. To know that both children and parents/carers were involved in creating Downfield Primary’s ‘Promise’ was wonderful. It seemed as if the staff had created a great way of including everyone into the school life.

The visit was very eye-opening and demonstrated how vital it is for each of the three professions (Education, Social Work and Community Education) to work together to achieve that one goal – getting it right for every child, young adult or family  that may use any of these services. If we do not work together, we cannot achieve this goal. There needs to be prominent communication and co-operation skills, positive partnership and collaborative working, and a similar mindset of each member of the professions.

Race – Will it ever disappear?

Yesterdays lecture was an eye opener. I did a bit of research when class was over to find out James Byrd JR. was murdered by three white supremacists – what could be classed as a ‘lynching’ . This man was dragged for three miles behind a truck, still alive, until they hit a curve, severing his arm and head. This happened in 1998. The year I was born. It sounds absolutely absurd that people are roaming the streets still, that have this mindset that black people are any different to us. The men that committed this horrendous crime proceeded to dump the body and drive off to a barbecue with friends.

We see it in the news all the time. A black man has been pulled over and shot by a white police officer. He went to grab something out his pocket. The police officer thinks he’s going for a gun. Yes, this happens mostly in America, but does this mean we shouldn’t care? Innocent people’s lives being taken, families broken up, husbands and wives now widowed. Do I think racism will disappear entirely? No. Unfortunately not. Should skin colour, where you are from, where you were brought up matter? Should it affect how you are treated in society? No.

This lecture made me realise that racism is something that has improved in some ways, but will never truly disappear. There are still people walking the streets believing that a ‘pure race’ is the way forward, and this really saddens me.

Has society really moved on?

Here is the link to the death of James Byrd JR.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_James_Byrd_Jr.

Structural Inequalities

Our first session was a bit nerve-wracking yet exciting. We were put in to 4 groups with around 10 people in each. We were handed an envelope per group and told to make a resource that a new student would be able to use. We were only allowed to use what was in the envelope. I’d done something similar to this before in school, so I had an idea of what this session could be about.

We introduced ourselves and opened the envelope. A piece of Blu-Tac, three paper clips, a Post-it note and a pencil fell out. We all looked at each other in question of what in the world we would be able to make that would be a useful resource that someone would feel is helpful. It didn’t take us long to notice that the group across from us had a piece of A4 paper as well as the pencil, Blu-Tac and paperclips. Another group had multi-coloured paper, pens and pencils. The group furthest away from us had multi-coloured paper, coloured pencils and pens and even sellotape! Our group felt like this was unfair as every other group had more things to use compared to us. It was very difficult to think of a resource, and we decided to use the envelope as part of it too. We made a very average looking map and the most important places had a paperclip on top. If I was a new student, I definitely wouldn’t have used our map.

Our group were in shock when we noticed what the others had made : a survival booklet, a box with essentials for uni inside, and another map that was definitely better than ours. Lina then rated each of our groups creations. We received a score of 3 out of 10, which made us laugh as out product wasn’t the best. Lina asked us how we felt about being rated low and not receiving the exact same stationary as everyone else. Most of us agreed and said we felt it was unfair and we were disappointed in our resource. The groups who scored high felt happy and it turns out that they didn’t even notice that they had more stationary to use compared to us.

We soon realised that this was the whole point of the session. People do not have the same things as others. People may feel disadvantaged as they don’t have a fancy house, loads of clothes or toys, or the newest iPhone. There are areas in this world where children are deprived and may not have the best upbringing compared to others. Lina described this as ‘baggage’. And that baggage does not get left at the school entrance. Some children may not even realise that not everyone can afford the same things as them.
This session made me think how important it is to treat everyone equally no matter what their background or situation is. Not every child will walk into the class and feel the same. We all have different thoughts, come from different places and live differently to each other. It is important, as a teacher, to treat everyone with equal respect and to understand that not one child is the same. Others may need a bit more help, but its vital that every individual feels the same level of respect in an educational environment.
Our job as future teachers is to make sure that each pupil feels included and is being treated equally, no matter what their background is.

Finding Direction

I left school not really having a clue what I wanted to do. It was quite a lonely and daunting period as all my friends were prepared and had every detail of their plan down to a T. I have always had a great interest in working with children, but as a mere 17-year-old, I didn’t want to jump into something and not enjoy it.

I left school with slightly above average grades, but not enough to get into a teaching course. I knew deep down this is what I definitely wanted to do, but it was now trying to think of ways to get around this barrier. I knew I wanted to get more experience of the world as well as improve my grades, so I attended a night class. It was strange being back in a classroom but in a more informal way. I was glad to get back in to some kind of routine; having not been in a lesson for two years.
I travelled to Thailand – a once in a lifetime experience. I helped out in schools, both mainstream and private, and saw a completely different way of life. The resources, the classrooms, the teachers and their pupils learn and interact with each other in different ways. It was an amazing and exciting feeling, to know I’d made some sort of difference to some of the pupil’s lives – even if it was just knowing their numbers up to 20 in English.
I volunteered in a primary 1 class in 2016 and primary 6 class in 2017. I got the insight to different levels of capability, children enjoying and taking pride in their work and watching them grow as a learner and a member of the school community.

All of these aspects of my life in the past two years have contributed to my enthusiasm and passion to teach and help shape young people’s minds.

Why teaching? I want to know I have had an impact in children’s lives. I want any child to feel comfortable and confident to be able to speak up and voice their opinions. I want every child to feel included no matter what background they may come from. I want children to feel proud of what they have accomplished, whether its acing a maths quiz or shooting two goals in a football match. Knowing that I am going to have a positive effect on a child’s learning and school career is going to be a great feeling.

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Teacher, Lorraine Lapthorne conducts her class in the Grade Two room at the Drouin State School, Drouin, Victoria

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