Gaining English Confidence through Drama at BHA

By: Tara May, MYP Drama Teacher and Sam Strozzo, IB TOK, MYP Drama and English 

As part of the MYP, students engage in dramatic arts throughout their time at Branksome Hall Asia. The current cohorts of Grade 6, Grade 7, and Grade 8 students are using process-based critical thinking skills to increase their English speaking confidence by devising scenes based on fables and the storytelling arc process. Our students also collaborate to produce a Bunraku Theater performance, and devise a Dance Drama using concepts such as the five-act linear structure. Students also draw from their learning in English and Humanities classes throughout the year to support this work in drama.

Before reaching this point in their learning, students have approached drama by practicing techniques to engage the audience. These methods include the use of eye contact, voice projection and intonation, body language in improvised scenes, formal individual speeches, and group-building drama games. With this learning practice now completed, Grade 6 students are moving into their final task for a storytelling unit, tying-together skills learned in multiple subjects to design and enact an ensemble piece in groups. Grade 7 students, as well as Grade 8 students, have both finished their performances and are preparing to begin their next units: Abstract Theater and Applied Theater, respectively.

Using methods of self-evaluation, peer feedback and a reflection model alongside filmed performances, students are able to celebrate successes and note areas for improvement in their planning and acting skills. These trans-disciplinary skills can then be applied to their other subjects.  It is wonderful to see the girls build their confidence through these activities.

This kind of project allows students to practice team work through the “5 Cs” used in MYP Drama: Cooperation, Consideration, Creativity, Concentration, and Communication. All of these "Cs" draw on prior practice in other subjects to allow students to grow in both critical thinking and confidence. As the Grade 6, Grade 7, and Grade 8 students move toward the end of the semester, it is exciting to see them all grow as young women exhibiting qualities of the IB Learner Profile, especially as risk-taking, reflective communicators.