Drama Works! Teaching System – A Creative Way to Teach Across the Curriculum

by Michael Leppert

Drama is an activity with far reaching benefits.  Children develop transferable abilities such as confidence, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills ideal for job interviews and presentations.  These 21st Century skills are highly coveted by modern businesses.  Drama is also a great way to make concepts and curriculum from other subjects more understandable and fun through kinesthetic learning.  It is an ideal strategy for differentiated instruction for those students who don’t always learn best with pencil and paper.  Special needs children such as those with learning challenges, physical or emotional disabilities, or language delays can shine in drama activities.  Gifted, talented, and highly motivated students, who need challenges, can demonstrate their abilities and synthesize learning through drama.

Drama Works! Teaching System is an outstanding curriculum program that will show you how to use fun and effective drama activities for all school subjects, all ages, and all learning styles. No previous experience teaching or participating in drama is needed; the program was written for educators without any theatre training.  The 150 lesson plans are easy to follow with everything you need to know for a great learning experience.  The author, Mr. Jonas Basom, has been developing, testing, revising, and expanding the system for the past 20 years.  It combines his lifetime of experience as an actor and performer with his 25 years experience teaching theatre in private and public schools.  Mr. Basom is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University and California State University LA, where he trains teachers in arts integration and creative drama methodology.  He is a Bravo Award Winner for Outstanding Arts Educator of Southern California, and his curriculum has been adopted by school districts and universities worldwide, including the New York City Public Schools, Los Angeles USD, and Houston ISD.

The first purpose of Drama Works! Teaching System is to teach and learn about theatre arts. Develop performing and presenting skills through theatre disciplines such as acting, pantomime, improvisation, and storytelling.  Learn and apply theatrical vocabulary, skills, and concepts related to creative exploration and theatre production.  Create a performance by selecting from the 150 activities and rehearsing them for a simple, royalty-free production.  For example, learn about staging concepts in the activity Tableau, where players create a frozen picture with body poses and facial expressions that capture a key moment of a story or play.

The second purpose of Drama Works! Teaching System is to develop literacy and teach language arts.  Improve reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills with hundreds of creative drama games, strategies, lessons, and digital posters.  Develop English vocabulary by using the 500 Creativity Cards to inspire acting choices and create or explore stories. For example, in the activity Grammar Charades, players create sentences by acting and guessing selected cards being used as nouns, verbs, and adjectives.  Dramatize children’s books and explore themes from classic literature.

The third purpose of Drama Works! Teaching System is to teach arts integration – both among the arts and across the curriculum.  For example, the activity called Musical Moods combines dance, drama, and music concepts by having students explore movement and character ideas inspired by selections of classical music of different tempos and emotions.  There are literally thousands of integration ideas provided for dramatizing content in all school subjects.  Bring historical events and people to life by dramatizing them.  Make science concepts fun and memorable through kinesthetic learning as in the activity Tell and Show, in which partner A explains the stages of a process such as the water cycle (tell) while partner B acts them out in pantomime (show).  Clarify math concepts such as geometric shapes in the activity Statues, in which partner A makes a frozen pose of a shape (circle, triangle, square, rhombus, etc.) and partner B must guess the shape.

There are four digital and print components in Drama Works! Teaching SystemDrama Works! Online is an annual subscription that contains the entire curriculum in digital form.  There are 150 printable lesson plans that include 1200 total activities including the variations and 3000 integration ideas for all school subjects.  They are organized by 65 built-in indexes for skills, subjects, learning styles, and grade levels.  They can also be found by using the keyword search (e.g., antonyms, ecosystems, countries, or multiplication).  There are visual aids to project or print including posters, flash cards, and handouts.  Drama Works! Online includes a glossary of 300 theatre and literary terms with definitions and examples.  There are detailed teaching strategies for arts integration and a complete classroom management system for building group cohesion or classroom community.  Hundreds of built-in links allow the user to quickly find the perfect activity, poster, or teaching strategy, but also keep exploring to learn more and find related material.  Plus, the publisher makes annual updates to content and technology features based on user feedback, so you become part of a growing, responsive curriculum.

The three print components are high-quality versions of key portions of the online curriculum (although there is much more in Drama Works! Online than the print components).  The Companion Book of Lesson Plans contains the 150 printed lesson plans, 65 indexes, and the glossary of terms in a durable coil-bound book with customized plastic cover/back, tabs, and rear pocket.  The book is easy to hold, flip around, and photocopy completely flat.  If you can’t or don’t want to login, you still have all the lessons and indexes at your fingertips to quickly find an activity, read it and lead it.  The book also saves you the time and money of printing one lesson at a time. The Creativity Cards are a bigger, stronger, and prettier version of the digital flash cards available in Drama Works! Online.  The 500 cards are 3×5 size making them easier to see and read from distance (better for literacy).  They come in 10 color-coded categories in a durable, portable box that includes plastic tabs for easy organization and an instructions booklet with over 100 ideas for using the cards for arts education and literacy.  The print quality and colors are excellent; the box set adds a dynamic quality of fun and engagement.  Finally, the Vocabulary Cards take the 300 terms in the glossary from Drama Works! Online and turns them into 3×5 size cards in a box with tabs and an instructions booklet very similar to the Creativity Cards.  There are 75 cards in the four main categories: performance (e.g., projection, rehearsal), production (e.g., spotlight, props), literary terms (e.g., setting, protagonist), and genres (e.g., melodrama, fantasy).  The box set cards include bonus details like subcategories, pronunciation, and examples along with the definitions.

Drama Works! Teaching System is perfect for homeschool families, support groups or charter schools.  Many of the activities work great even in a small family setting for homeschool work time or evening fun and family bonding.  A family can make great use of the program for many years because it spans PreK-12 and all school subjects.  Use Drama Works! in a homeschool group to teach content across the curriculum, develop or enhance a theatre production, and develop a wide range of social skills.  There are different combinations available, but we recommend the complete system for each family or teacher because the four components work so well together, and will make it much easier to be successful with the activities and strategies.

Please visit the website, DramaEd.net for a free lesson plan, product tours, and pricing options. You can also learn about volume licensing and teacher training services available for homeschool groups or charter schools. The author, Jonas Basom, offers training in-person and/or via video conferencing for individual parents or groups of teachers.

Product Title:
Drama Works! Teaching System
Curriculum for Creative Drama, Theatre, Literacy, and Arts Integration, PreK-12
Jonas Basom
Drama Education Network
P.O. Box 484, Hawthorne, CA 90250
310-289-4410 or 1-866-88-DRAMA

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