World Book Day Interview

As we gear up to celebrate World Book Day Eastside caught up with drama and storytelling facilitator Sarah Walcott. We asked her how she finds teaching remotely & quizzed her for some new & exciting tips on how to practically introduce set texts to students in a fun, creative way when working online …

Firstly … does drama really work for remote teaching?

The pedagogy of drama can have a huge impact on student achievement: creating community, empathy, motivation, active listening and teamwork, and it’s absolutely possible to achieve some of this online! Vocal warm-ups and concentration or observation games work really well, as well as reading and discussing texts in detail and then performing them. Breakout rooms can be really useful for students to discuss and prepare demonstrations, and we can even utilise the agony of online glitches, drawing parallels with performance: students can evaluate and discuss how to navigate and solve a potential hiccup in their performance, so just like when the computer freezes, we take a deep breath and carry on! 

How would you begin exploring characters using drama and performance online? 

There are lots of physical games you can do remotely that help bring characters to life, like Frozen Statues, where students show 3 statues representing a time in a character’s life, or their dreams, secrets, etc, or Character Moving, in which students move around with different prompts e.g. If your character were an animal how would they move? This can lead nicely into discussions about status and character traits. 

You can also play with character clothing, props, music or images, asking pupils to select items/music tracks/photos they think represent each character.

Older students could write their own monologues as the voice of a chosen character from the text and perform these. 

How do you examine settings and locations within a story when working with students remotely? 

The best thing about remote storytelling activities is that students can use what they have at home to inspire their imaginations to go wild! For example, a chair may represent something as far away as a castle.  Movement games work really well, for example instructing children to move around their space – are you walking in a city, the countryside? What is the weather like? What noises do you hear in this environment? Creating a soundscape – with students each choosing a sound to make from the setting of the story – is a fantastic way to activate imaginations and get into the world of the story.

Another fun way to explore locations is to let students have fun with Zoom or other video settings and backgrounds – displaying an appropriate one for the setting. Discuss: How important is the setting to the performance? Does it change anything about the way we imagine the story?

Any other tips you would give to teachers working remotely with their students?

Keep it fun, fun, fun!
Make sure activities are interactive.
Get students moving.
Play games.
Use the virtual world you have at your fingertips.
Experiment with how your online platform is used and how this can help us in performance. (audio/video etc).

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