An ideal activity for both teachers and students who usually avoid drama in the classroom. Low-risk fun for all ages and levels.
- Pre-teach any vocabulary necessary.
- Tell students they need a very small piece of paper.
- Ask students to write AB down the side (see right).
- Dictate dialogue (students can write or draw pictures).
- Students practise dialogue in pairs.
Wednesday’s #eltchat session on paper light classrooms prompted me to write up this Iatefl session. You’ll find the detailed version of the activity below along with my take on Colin Granger’s dramatic delivery of the session.
The catchy title was what drew my attention but ‘An easy to set up, risk –free activity for all age groups’ sold the session; I wanted something practical which I could take back to school. If I’m honest I didn’t initially connect the name Colin Granger with the 1980s series Play games with English even though it’s one of the most well-thumbed books in our resource room. (If there’s a copy in your resource room hang on to it, £63 a copy on
Tax Evaders Amazon).
After making sure we all had a partner, Colin started the session off with what he said would be a ‘brief, potted history of his relationship with drama and teaching’ which wasn’t so brief. He started by showing a photo of himself in a primary school play before moving on to stories about his first experiences of using drama in the classroom and finally telling us about his very first books.
By this time my partner and I were looking at each other wondering whether we were going to get to the activity before time ran out. Colin must have thought the same as suddenly it was all go. Everyone had to have a piece of paper which measured approximately 2cm by 8cm. At this point, Colin patroled the aisles brandishing a ruler; large pieces had to be reduced! Next, he instructed us to write AB eight times down the length of the paper. This was where we were going to write the script for our mini drama. Before dictating it he told us we could use any method we wished to record the dialogue –abbreviations, pictures etc. He then dictated the sixteen lines. Next, partners compared work and discussed what they thought was happening in the dialogue before Colin elicited ideas from the whole room. “Two burglars? Two children raiding the fridge? A husband and wife?” At this point Colin didn’t tell us, we just had to act out the dialogue with our partner in whichever characters we had chosen using our tiny little scripts. We tried it with other characters, tried swapping A and B roles and finally without the scripts. After all this he showed us the picture of what was happening – two burglars. Personally, I think this stage might be the ideal moment to do some extra language or pronunciation work.
The benefit of the mini scripts, Colin says, is that students can hide them in their hands and peek at them if they forget a line, although he says they rarely have to. The benefit of the activity, in addition to speaking practice is that students go away with some memorable chunks of language. Forgiving Colin his potted history, we went away with smiles, discussing ideas of how to exploit the activity further- as teachers do.