Drama: Students as Writers and Actors

Drama, as a type of video, allows students to connect with literature or history through the staging of a scene from a novel or reenactment of a historic event. A drama can also be used as a creative exercise, giving students an opportunity to write, direct, and act in their own screenplay.

The junior kindergarten students at my school act in their own dramas and have them recorded on videotape. With the help of their teacher, a designated student creates a story line, the teacher or aide taking dictation. The student then chooses classmates to be fellow actors and directs their efforts. When the stage is set, the teacher narrates the story, the students act, and a teacher's aide records the story on videotape. The students will want to watch these videos over and over and share them with their parents. The teacher also retains a copy as part of the students' portfolios.

At higher grade levels, students can be assigned to bring to life their favorite scenes from literature. There is no better way to have students experience the emotion or complexity of a story then to ask them to reenact a scene or excerpt from the book. It forces them to become the characters and walk in their shoes. The students will have to know more than just what the characters did; they will have to understand the characters' motivation, state of mind, relationship to other characters, social status, morality, and then mimic the characters' personality. Acting is a powerful way to interact with a text, and video facilitates the capture and delivery of such performances.