EDU 6655 Is Theater the Answer?

While reading chapter 14 of Brain Matters, Wolfe does a wonderful job recapping the main takeaways from her book. While reading over the importance of using appropriate rehearsal strategies and providing many opportunities for students to revisit information over time on page 222, I was able to connect a phenomenal new resource I received during our staff LEAP time.

Our staff was lucky enough to have a training session from BTiC: Bringing Theater into the Classroom. It is a program that teaches you ways to integrate drama into your entire curriculum. They give activities, and ice breakers to help start your year off. With those activities, comes a set up for grouping our students that you are able to pull from for the rest of the year. Looking back into chapter 11, Wolfe states, “We learn some things by experiencing them concretely, others symbolically, and still others in abstract terms (Wolfe 166).” What I loved about BTiC is this program provides methods of learning that research has proved to be most effective. During this mini workshop, we learned a lot about tableaus and how effective they can be in all subject areas and used for many purposes. This immediately excited me and got me eager to apply my new learning into my classroom. I already had an idea of where and exactly how I wanted to test out using tableaus.

In my classroom during reading workshop, the curriculum is focusing hard on oral retelling of the highlighted story from the curriculum. We are provided with a hardcopy version of this story, the story is available online, and we are given blank picture cards for students to “fill in the blank” of the story. However, no matter how many times we listen to the story (me reading the book, played online or using the blank cards) my students are still having a difficult time with going back and recreating the story in the correct order. I went back into my classroom after the workshop and immediately introduced tableaus to my students. Rather than having my whole class attempt to retell the entire story together, I divided the story out into 4 sections and grouped my students into 4 groups. Each group was given a section of the story and they had to work together to create a tableau to show the most important piece of their section of the story. Each group then watched the others mini productions! We had a quick discussion about each tableau and why they chose the stances, and gestures they chose. After this activity, we sat back down and debriefed the whole lesson. The next day I came back and revisited this same story and asked them to retell the story. The outcome was phenomenal. Every single student was able to correctly retell the story in the correct order and they were actually able to pull even more information from the story after that activity than they were able to before.

All of the reading and research from Jossey, Wolfe and the fabulous online readings that we have been able to discover have really come to life in my classroom with how students learn best. I can’t wait to continue using tableaus and theater in my classroom!

Bringing theater into the classroom. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.seattlerep.org/Programs/Education/BTIC/Default

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.221-223). Arlington, VA: ASCD.

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3 thoughts on “EDU 6655 Is Theater the Answer?

  1. I love your post! I strongly believe in the power of arts integration and think that the example you shared about your students struggling to retell a story and then trying a new method through the use of tableaux is proof that theater and the arts really do engage and support student learning in the most meaningful way! I’ve used tableaux often in literature studies and as we learn about important events in our social studies. In fact, as a part of our review tomorrow for our upcoming social studies test, I am going to put my students into groups and have them create frozen tableaux to help review the major events we learned. In my post this week, I also cited some of what I learned in our work with BTiC as a way to engage students in meaningful, hands-on learning. I LOVED our Wednesday LEAP time this week. Although I can’t go this coming summer, I am definitely going to take a BTiC summer class session in the future.

  2. What a great use of your LEAP time. I love when staff development can be directly implemented in the classroom. I have never heard of this program. Thank you for writing about it and sharing your learning. I’m definitely going to look into it. It sounds like something my first graders would love!

  3. Wow, that is great! I am doing a reader’s theatre this week in my classroom based on the book Pilgrims. I am excited to see how this helps my students to retell the story and aid in their comprehension. I like your idea better though of having them create it instead of just handing them a script. I will be looking for opportunities to incorporate this.

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