Experiential Learning in the Drama Classroom

Whichever system you work in, it’s a good idea in Drama to get student’s to be reflective about the practical exercises they are participating in in class.

As teachers, not only do we want to create great performers and play makers, we also want our student’s to be articulate, appreciative arts lovers. It’s important that student’s learn this skill as in its essence that is what Drama and Theatre is trying to do – connect you to your greater understanding of the world and your place in it and to then talk and share your thoughts.

At the conclusion of every practical activity we do in class, I try to allocate about 15-20 minutes or so for reflective writing in a logbook. You may prefer to set this as homework and use class time for additional practical tasks. You choose what works best for you. I have also just recently experimented in trying to turn the logbook digital. However that is for another time.

The logbook is a place for student’s to be reflective about the process of making, performing and appreciating Drama. It should include:

  • Resources: photocopies, pictures, articles, class notes, research material;
  • Assignments: insert them into your logbook after they’ve been marked;
  • Assessments: these provide you with vital information on what you need to do and your progress;
  • Workshop Descriptions: a lesson-by-lesson account of what you do in Drama;
  • Observations: records of reactions, observations and opinions about your work and others;
  • Experiences: a note of anything that happens outside of class. Shows you see, films you watch etc.

The key point I’d like to focus on, is that of the Workshop Descriptions. I’ve actually created a scaffolded workbook template that I get my student’s to fill out at the conclusion of every lesson. Here it is:

  • What was the purpose of the exercise? (What were you hoping to achieve? What skill or element was to be explored?)
  • Explain/Describe what happened during the exercise (number the steps if that helps).
  • What observations did you make about yourself and others? (give examples of specific scenes enacted, shapes created etc.)
  • Make a personal judgement on how successful you or your group were and what you learned.
  • How does this exercise link or relate to your purpose?

Student’s can then submit their logbook at the conclusion of a performance as part of their assessment as a way of demonstrating the process that they went through to create their performance work. I also get the student’s to fill out a self-evaluation of their own performance and that of others and include that in their logbook. Many of the descriptions and reflections can then be put into a Drama essay. I will discuss this in a future post.

Mardi Gras Readers (FRONT PAGE #1) / Graham Blackall / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

2 Comments

  1. Hi Karla, I’ve just stumbled across this post in your archives. I’m really interested in developing student drama journals/logbooks online, which you mention here. Could you talk more about this sometime? I think it’s a fascinating idea and would like to get as many insights as I can before I leap into it in my future class!

    • Hi Sam,

      Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment on the blog. I can definitely talk about logbooks in a post. They are something I’m rather passionate about. Particularly in developing quality written responses from students. I will definitely make a note and hopefully lock in a post in the next week or so. I’m a little swamped at school at the moment but will try to get to it when I can.

      K.

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