Documenting Process in Drama

A significant part of the theory aspect of drama is the documenting of process. How did the students get from this point to this point? This is an essential part of creating drama because it requires the students to be reflective of the creative decisions they have made and the way they are going to move forward to deal with potential problems.

The way in which most drama teachers assess this is through a logbook.

I’ll be honest and say that I have always struggled with the logbook.

I see its validity and perhaps it is just my students but I find I’ve had to heavily scaffold the structure of responses and constantly nag my students to make sure that they are doing it.

At one point, I attempted to get them to do it at home for homework but this discipline could just not be instilled in them. I’ve allocated significant lesson time (between 15-20minutes) to writing reflections which takes away from the practical aspects of class, which, when you only see them twice a week, is valuable time lost. Allocating class time I have found works a lot better but I just am not sure if it is really achieving anything.

What I’m asking is, what makes a valid reflection? Does it need to be a whole written page, need it only be a class discussion, can it be in video format (this is something that I have tried of recent)?

As teachers, we do need solid, physical evidence that a student has produced their own work from go to woe. In needing that I have heavily scaffolded the teaching of the logbook to the point where I have given page by page specifics of what I want in the logbook.

I guess the next thing I’m asking is, am I right to be teaching the logbook so explicitly? Am I right to be teaching how to be reflective at the end of all tasks?

I’m interested to know how you mark your logbooks, what you ask your students to include. If you don’t use a logbook, what do you get your students to do in order to document process? I recently tried video diaries with mixed success. I’m looking for other ways to make this part of my teaching a little bit more inspiring and a little less of a chore.

Suggestions?

Photo Credit: rbbaird via Compfight cc

7 Comments

  1. It sounds to me that you are not sure about the logbook, yourself. Your students are picking that up. My students have a composition book and they have 10 minutes to write a minimum of five sentences. Some will write more while some barely scrape out those five. I am relentless about these little rules.

    • I agree Jean. I am not sure about the logbook. It is good to hear that you instill some of the same practices as me in your students with the 10mins, minimum of 5 sentences expectation and that you follow through on that. I think the time when I find the logbook trickiest is when we are in the process of devising. What is your advice on this?

  2. I have found the same issues and instilled the same strategies to ensure the logbooks are completed. I personally understand the logbook process myself but I have personally experienced creating theatre and understand how essential recording the process is but for my students who do not have this out of school experience or even world/life experience they do not always see the importance or the connection.

    I find that starting in the junior years is imperative as it instils good habits early. Also I mark their logbooks at the end of each term and it is part of an assessment mark. I do the ten minutes of writing with scaffolded sentence stems they can pick and choose and start off on. I like the writing of 5 sentence minimum – will also try that. I am thinking about getting them to also blog their process when they are creating a piece. Going to do this with Year 9’s playbuilding unit in term 4 this year.

    • Hi Valerie,

      It is nice to hear that others are experiencing similar issues with the logbook. I agree, instilling habits early is important I’m just not clear how big of an expectation I should have. I agree, it should be part of the assessment and I have done this with particular sections of our workbook and performance reflections. I have blogged with my students before which I am also thinking of doing again this term for playbuilding. Any reflection is better than no reflection right?

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and read my blog. It is really appreciated.

  3. I am currently writing a Unit on Playbuilding, which will incorporate the use of a Blog for students to reflect on their process. I think that integrating technology into the process may help with engaging them in this activity. I am using Weebly as the platform for them to use as their blog. I wonder if students were given this option from Yr 7 as a way to reflect on all their learning, not just Drama, whether they would see the importance of reflection more. I think if we spoon feed them to begin with and then raise the expectations as the years go on they may become habitual reflectors and actually enjoy the process. What do you think?

    • Hi Jacqui,

      That’s fantastic that you’re incorporating technology into the Drama classroom. I agree with you that reflection skills do need to be developed earlier but at the same time sometimes I wonder if their brains a physiologically developed enough yet to be able to do it well. At other times I think it’s all about how you draw the reflection out of the students through the questioning you use. Either way, I think you are onto something by introducing it early. If you are lucky enough to have Year 7 then I really think you should give it a go. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the blog. I really appreciate.

  4. Our scene-logs have two types of entries. I have had more success implementing the first; less the second due to my own low-priority when we are in rehearsal.

    The first type is a record of prepared scenes. It has is a format: date, scene partners, assignment type, title. Then they write their feedback to the scene. I teach the best learners will also write the notes that I give other scenes.

    Example.
    March 11, 2016 – Alfonzo, Peterson, Marilla – Open Text 1 (set the environment) – “The Dentist Goes Mad”
    –Take time to establish three things in the evironment before the first line
    –Slow the reactions down into beats (Alfonzo, think thoroughly, then respond)
    –etc.

    The second type is a record of the rehearsal process because I often have several scenes being worked up at once. The loose format is this the date, accomplishment, work crew, strengths and weakness, one goal.

    Example:
    March 11, 2016 – Scene 4 (On the Boardwalk) – Alfonzo, Peterson, Marilla (props) – worked through the text and meanings of the lines. Figured out “Bobby” has just left from the fight with “Gwen” so implemented preoccupation in his thoughts. Gave “Roy” some stage business with his rubix cube. Teacher helped us use objectives. Still thinking about this. Goal: next class, work on the general blocking of the scene.

    I use these scene-logs to guide my marking. I don’t grade them because they are a pass/fail record-keeping. What I notice in them is if the actor is getting the same note “back to the audience” “project” “what’s your objective?” and not making improvement. The benefit of this is it prevents, “What are we doing today?” I like to ask them, “What are you doing today?”

    I also have a Reflection Assignment at the end of each performance. There are three categories of three choice questions. Nine total– they answer three. They are paragraph length, or bullet points, but I am grading insight and richness and depth. I have samples I provide before hand. I collect these relgiously.

Thoughts?

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