Act Ease

Designed to build teacher capacity and ability to teach drama in primary schools.

Act Ease:

  • was created with a group of teachers, industry experts and university sector representatives to develop teacher capacity
  • features written, downloadable resources which are also captured through film
  • has video footage of many components of the resource which adds to teacher learning
  • complements the Vocal Ease music resources which support music education in schools.

Act Ease - Module 1 includes:

  • drama and literacy
  • digital drama and film
  • improvisation
  • mime and movement
  • playbuilding and role play
  • puppetry and mask.

Each unit includes:

  • extensive curriculum-based teaching and learning activities
  • footage of students and teachers engaged in these activities
  • videos of quality practice
  • interviews about drama.

To use this resource visit Act Ease - Module 1.


Julia Brennan (NSW K-6 Creative Arts Advisor) chats with Renee Adele Anton (Summer Hill Public School) about the implementation of drama group rotations at Summer Hill Public School. (11:38)

Chatting creative arts - drama groups with Renee Adele Anton

[upbeat music]

Julia Brennan

Hi my name's Julia Brennan and I’m Creative Arts Advisor for K-6 and I’m here today with the amazing Renee Adele Anton. Welcome Renee.

Renee Adele Anton

Thanks, Julia. Thanks very much for having me.

Julia Brennan

Super excited to have you. Now Renee is joining us today to talk a little bit about a fantastic drama program that she does with her students at Summer Hill Public School. So, we're really excited to hear all about it.

Now, Renee is a specialist drama teacher at Summer Hill and she takes all classes from K-6 and this particular program is called Drama Teams and Drama Teams is something that Renee does with her Stage 2 and 3 students at Summer Hill and she's just going to share with us a little bit of information about that. So, thank you so much Renee. I’m just going to share my screen so that everybody out there can see the amazing work that you have done and we'll let you talk to us all about it.

Renee Adele Anton

Excellent. Well, yes, as Julia said everyone my name is Renee Anton and I’m currently teaching at Summer Hill Public School and look I’m really excited to share some of my work with you today. I’ve spent most of my career as a primary classroom teacher finding joy in immersing myself in creative arts and I’ve tried to find some innovative and practical, I think, ways to teach drama with short bursts of time and varying learning styles that we all have to handle in our classrooms.

So, I’ve sought to create an inclusive approach in which I believe every student can succeed and I’ve called this unit Drama Teams. So, what are some of the features of the Drama Team's unit? Well, the content. We're covering all strands of drama simultaneously so the students are constantly making, performing and appreciating and they do this in every lesson.

It's flexible, so you could be including content from other KLAs and you're differentiating the tasks to meet the needs of the learners in your room. It's cross-curricular by nature with strong links to literacy and especially objectives in English such as communicating, using language, learning and reflecting and the 21st century skills are embedded there. I’d also suggest that your students are engaged in social and emotional learning when they are working in teams like this.

So, a quick explanation on how it all works. A class of 30, for example, is divided into specifically six teams of students. We begin with a whole class introduction to the task and this could be usually quite a simple task but with a particular area of focus that may change for each team. And, for example, in drama the topic that I like to look at is the elements of drama and the task is to prepare a short skit or a scene and each student involved with a clear speaking or movement part for that scene.

So, I do these rotations as five minutes per rotation. An important point, also, is that activity Station A you do… generally would say you would need a breakout space for that so we'll talk through those activity stations. As I said, Station A it takes a place in a breakout space and the team really must work independently to prepare the task there. I do find that the students really take that on and there is a sense of accountability because they know that they're coming back to share with the class.

In Station B, they present their tasks to the rest of the class and this may include some side coaching from yourself, the teacher. So, using yourself as a side coach for example just using wonderful, rich language you'd be talking to students about their facial expressions, their body language, their hand gestures.

Are they incorporating angles, levels and directions and how are they expressing their feelings as a character? Are they showing emotion? Perhaps, what are the relationship between the characters? Status or power, if you want to take it that far. And of course, the big thing for me in a drama skit or a drama scene is that the students can just quite simply give us a clear story with a beginning and an ending even if it's really, really short. So their intention is clear.

So, moving on to Station C. This is just involving sitting in the audience and participating in drama appreciation. From there, at Station D, students are watching the performance and then they are giving one to two sentences of constructive feedback and I love to model that language once again and guide them through and side coach them in that process a little bit as well. But they do love to comment on each other's work so you don't really have a lot of problem asking them to stand up or just sit down and speak. Great practice for public speaking there too.

Moving on from there, we'd go back into the audience so Station E involves just having another bit of a break sort of thing and they get to sit in the audience and watch another group performing. And then finally Station F is where the students have that all-important opportunity for a written reflection. So they're sitting with a little slip of paper that I’ve prepared for them and they're just filling in a tick box and I’m going to show you those in a minute.

They can add comments if they wish but what I feel is really important there is that it places the required skills fresh in their mind so when they next move around the rotation and go to prepare a new task in the breakout space they've got everything fresh in their mind.

You do notice that each week one group hasn't had the opportunity to prepare because that everyone has to start somewhere and we call that the spontaneous challenge. Whoever starts at Station B, so that's very exciting.

Okay, so this next slide here just gives you an example of the six-lesson rotation model that I’ve been using in my program and this is a Stage 3 unit of work. As I mentioned before, this one is the elements of drama, in particular, time, mood, focus, contrast, space and symbol and they're laid out across six lessons.

I’ve given myself a lesson at the beginning where I can organise the teams and talk them through the skills and the group work that's going to be happening and how the rotation works. And I just love that they get to do that that response task there so there's the combination really of the verbal response and then the journal activity gives you some lovely peer feedback with different modes of learning and all of that language of evaluation.

In some of my activities I have little cards and prompts that I’ve prepared but you can overlay any type of activity into each one of those stations each week. So, the next slide there is just giving you a bit of an overview of how I’ve tried to insert the learning intentions and success criteria. And in my program, I’ve matched them up to each of the activity stations.

So, the students are actually going through each one of them every week and so I’ve overlaid them to each station there. And we've got skills such as learning to collaborate with peers, we're learning to act in front of an audience, we're learning to evaluate one another's performances and to respond critically to a range of drama works and performance styles using the language of the syllabus there. But then, you know, honing in on some of those skills on voice and body and making meaning.

So, how would you use this in your classroom? Well, I mean I’d love to think that people could consider different priorities for the students and their own cohort, you know, would you be looking for collaboration? Are you wanting to focus in on your public speaking, your quick thinking and your problem solving skills? Would you want to enhance learning in another KLA? For example, if you are wanting to strengthen your literacy, further learning in literacy, you could you provide a rotational task that includes perhaps a character study or acting out parts from a book, presenting a poem, something like that.

Would you be looking at your information skills? You could, for example, you could get each group to summarise the main points of an article and then they share that article back with the class. Having those time limits really helps them to stay succinct. Would you even try perhaps giving a mathematical or a design task in a team's rotation activity and you could ask that the students present their solution and test the hypotheses with the feedback from one another.

So, whichever way you go with this I think that, you know, it's a really fast-paced activity, it's fun, you know, constantly moving, rich learning experience and I just really enjoy learning along with the kids because they have so much input and I’ve found it to be really, really valuable in the classroom. So hopefully you can take something away from that for yourself.

Julia Brennan

Thanks so much, Renee. It was lovely to hear all the fantastic work that you're doing with your students. So congratulations and thanks again for sharing with us.

Renee Adele Anton

It's really exciting to share. Thanks for having me.

[upbeat music]

[End of transcript]


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Creative Arts K–6 Syllabus (2006) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.

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