Exploring issues…

Have you ever used drama to explore issues and deepen understanding in your classroom?

I don’t mean having students watch plays about the topic they are studying. Nor do I mean dramatizing what they have learned. While I believe that creating a play can be an effective way to demonstrate and even assess learning, that’s not what I am referring to either.

You can read here about how we first decided to provide opportunities for creativity through a choice of workshops, to enrich the learning during our inquiry into social inequity. I worked with the drama group because the sessions were facilitated via Skype by Mazz in Ecuador, and it was necessary to have a teacher present in the room. Not only was it a different way for kids to engage with their learning, it was a journey of discovery for me.

Drawing on the Playback style of theatre, the group explored issues relating to social inequity, through improvisation, narrative vignettes, frozen stories and fluid sculptures.

Learning included:

  • Collaborating in groups to explore issues and develop ideas.
  • Using newspaper stories, articles and powerful images to stimulate thinking.
  • Writing four sentence stories to encapsulate the big ideas.
  • Considering social inequity from other perspectives.
  • Empathising with others and portraying different aspects of their emotions.
  • Using voices and bodies to express feelings and  communicate ideas.
  • Experimenting with symbolism and metaphor to invoke emotion and provoke thinking.
  • Giving constructive feedback to peers on how to make their performances more effective.
  • Reflecting individually and collaboratively to refine their techniques.
At the opening of our PYP exhibition last year, students talked about their learning and shared some examples on stage. It was a low-key performance that focused more on process than product, but it was incredible to see these 12-year-olds pull together all their learning to create provocative, emotive pieces, in a remarkably short time.


One student commented that “I never realised that you could use drama in this way to think more deeply about issues.” Me neither. And reading a post the other day about improv and inquiry got me thinking further.

Mazz is back in Australia and currently available to facilitate such workshops for your students or to lead workshops for teachers in how to use drama this way themselves. You can contact her here:

2 thoughts on “Exploring issues…

  1. Hi Mrs. Sackson!
    I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama from the University of South Alabama. I love drama but I have never actually thought of using it in this way in the classroom with young children. I am working on my second undergraduate degree in elementary education and I am in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class this semester. I think that drama is a great way to encourage discussion in the classroom, especially for little ones because they are so physical in their learning and exploring new things. I think this allows them a chance to be more creative and innovative in the classroom and interact with their fellow students. I also think this is a great way for children to get to know each other better and find out what their peers find important in today’s world. Thanks for the post and I will definitely keep this in mind for my future students.
    Thank you-Jamie Lynn Barbour


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